Have you decided to sell your home and wondering whether to do a sale-by-owner transaction or hire a real estate agent? Sure, you could save money from an agent’s commission, but have you thought about what that commission saves you in time and getting the best price for your property?
Are you looking for the perfect home to buy and becoming frustrated with the amount of time you’re spending on searching listings? Looking for a home is time-consuming. If you’re lucky enough to find one on your own, is it worth it to have an agent or broker that can assist with all the necessary paperwork?
According to The National Association of Realtors (NAR), 88% of homebuyers bought their home through a real estate agent or broker in 2020. Why? A real estate agent has the technological tools and market knowledge to assist both sellers and buyers in getting the best price for their real estate transaction quickly and professionally.
We’ve compiled 12 of the most important questions to ask a real estate agent before you hire them in this article. Read further for information that can assist you in finding the best agent for you.
Table of Contents
1. May I See Your Real Estate License?
Real estate agents often have business cards with their license numbers on them. Ask to see the actual license anyway. Any reputable realtor will be more than happy to show you their license.
Why is the license important? Real estate transactions are big moneymakers. Criminals are savvy and have upgraded their game for real estate scams over the last year.
2. How Long Have You Been a Real Estate Agent?
Let’s agree. Experience matters. And a real estate agent that has been in business for a few years has been having some success, or they would not continue to do it.
It takes time to become familiar with geographic areas, staging techniques, and troubleshooting with complex paperwork. An experienced agent comes with communication skills that are necessary when negotiating offers.
Listening skills come with lots of practice. Your best choice for a real estate agent is one who listens carefully for details about your needs as a buyer or seller.
When interviewing a potential real estate broker, pay attention to see if they can recall your requests and if suggestions are made. This shows that the agent is actively engaged and ready to take action.
3. How Does Your Commission Work?
Did you know that real estate commissions are negotiable? Typically, the asking rate is 6%. If you have a property in a location that is in high demand, you may be able to get a lower commission rate.
Yet, keep in mind that the commission paid covers both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent.
On top of that, each agent has to pay out fees to a brokerage. Add in the costs for office space, advertising, photography, MLS membership, travel, and the many hours with clients. You have to decide for yourself if negotiating a lower commission is worth potentially losing a great agent.
4. Do You Work Full-time or Part-time as a Real Estate Agent?
A real estate agent that works full-time has their work routines down to an automatic science. They seem to answer complex questions effortlessly and can quickly find solutions and resources for you.
You may find a great part-time agent with a great track record, too. When interviewing, hire a real estate agent that they have set hours and will have enough time to devote to your needs.
5. What Makes You Different From Other Agents?
A local real estate agent that has been working in your location for a while is a great asset. They have networked and made connections with other businesses such as home inspectors, mortgage professionals, home insurance providers, and reliable home improvement contractors.
Top-performing real estate agents understand that they must constantly learn about state and municipal regulations that affect real estate. Many go through additional training to gain specialization certifications.
There are also real estate brokers that pay their real estate agents a salary rather than commission. This can be beneficial to both sellers and buyers because the agent is focused on getting you exactly what you want rather than worrying about higher offers for increased commission.
6. How Many Homes Did You Help Buyers Close in the Past Year?
The average amount of homes a real estate agent will sell in a year is 10 to 12. Depending on the location, some agents will sell more or less. Supply and demand for homes in your area plays a key role.
However, ask the agent for data for all homes sold in your location. This will give you an idea of how well the market is doing. Then compare with the real estate agent’s average home sales.
7. How Long Does it Typically Take Buyers You’ve Worked with to Find and Purchase a Home?
Both home buyers and home sellers want results that are timely. A real estate agent that is working hard for you should be able to bring results within 6 months.
Listing agents and buyer agents will often work under contract for a specific period of time. Ask about the length of the contract and any termination fees that you will owe.
Agents incur advertising fees to market your home and seek reimbursement should you decide to go with another agency or take your home off the market. Read contracts thoroughly.
8. How Will Agents Market your Home?
Your real estate agent will have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) network. Sellers cannot list their homes on this database without a listing agent.
In addition to MLS, a seller’s agent will use some or all of the following to advertise your home:
- Professional photographers
- Videographers for virtual tours
- Website advertisement for open house
- Printing for direct mail marketing
- Social media advertising
- Email marketing
If your potential real estate agent cannot answer questions about these areas of marketing, consider it a red flag. Many home buyers begin their home search on websites and social media outlets. A good agent already has a plan in place for your home that includes best marketing practices.
9. Will Agents Help you Stage your Home Prior to Listing It?
If you’re looking to sell your home quickly and for the highest bid, staging a home properly is important. Buyers need to be able to visualize what the home could look like when furnished. Tasteful furnishings that give a clean and fresh appearance work well.
Ask what furniture companies are used for staging and the rental costs. A real estate agent experienced with staging a home for sale will already have a network of professionals they are working with.
Expect to hear advice on trending styles that will work for your home. If you have priceless antiques and furnishings, your real estate agent may want to incorporate them in the staging design. Review your home insurance policy to make sure these items have adequate coverage.
10. How Many Clients are you Currently Working With?
This question goes back to whether the agent works full-time or part-time. If this is their primary career, expect that a successful real estate agent has numerous clients.
What you are looking for in this question is reassurance that your agent is going to have the time to devote to your needs.
11. Will the Agent Provide Reviews and References from Past Sales or Purchases?
A reputable agent will pride themselves in offering references. They may be able to direct you to reviews from past clients on their website.
Don’t hesitate in asking for testimonials. You are interviewing this person for a job. A real estate professional knows that they are competing for the work and will be prepared.
12. What Neighborhoods Do You Specialize In?
This is a very important question because, in real estate transactions, time is critical. Look for a buyer’s agent that knows the area in which you want to find a home.
Be wary of agents that immediately want to steer you to particular housing developments and seem uninterested in showing homes in your requested neighborhoods. This is a waste of your time.
A listing agent that knows your neighborhood and others that are comparable will be able to highlight the best features of your community when marketing your home. Ask the agent what they like about your neighborhood.
After You Hire the Perfect Real Estate Agent for You
The questions in this article are meant to assist you in finding the best real estate agent, whether you are a seller or home buyer. Make qualified agents compete for your listing or home buying experience.
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