Before You List: Questions to Ask Prospective Real Estate Agents
It’s always a
good idea to ensure you’re getting someone that’s going
to go the extra mile to sell your home or help you find a new one.
After all, that’s what you’re paying them to do.
When it comes time
to select an agent, most people don’t have a clue where to
start, and often it comes down to referrals or word-of-mouth from
folks you know. In essence, when you initially meet with agents,
they’re interviewing for the job of selling your house. And,
just like a job interview, you should have a list of questions to ask
every agent you meet with, regardless of how you heard about them.
If you need a little
help with what kinds of questions to ask, here are a few that will
get you started.
How long have you been in
residential real estate in our area, and how many transactions to
you average per year? First, this question qualifies the agent
as a residential real estate professional, and helps to establish
how well they know the area and market they serve. Don’t knock
newbies though – they may not have the years behind them, but
that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re
doing. Newer agents will bring a fresh approach to the process
(including using new technology), and still have a great enthusiasm
for the job, whereas some of the more seasoned agents may have
become somewhat complacent and resistant to the changing industry.
The agent’s yearly transactions will give you a very good
picture of whether they’re a go-getter, or prefer to let the
business come to them.
What’s your procedure
for assisting your clients from beginning to closing? The agent
should have a detailed presentation to show you that clearly
explains how they work, their marketing and advertising activities,
and how they’ll best represent you and your interests.
What experience do you have
with financing alternatives, and what might be good for my
situation? While real estate agents aren’t mortgage
specialists, they can usually make some good recommendations when it
comes to financing. Because laws pertaining to what agents can and
cannot do or say with regards to financing differ in each province
or state, the agent may need to refer you to a mortgage specialist
or lender they have a relationship with.
How do you determine my
financing qualifications and when? Again, mortgage pre-approvals
aren’t handled by all agents, so find out what they can do for
you in your area. In any case, it’s a good idea to get
pre-approved by a lender prior to making an offer on any property.
This will ensure you know what price range you can afford, and give
you the chance to make a strong offer at a moment’s notice on
your dream home.
How will you update me on
new homes for sale? The agent should have some kind of system
that will automatically send you new listings that meet your
your negotiating philosophy, and how will you apply it to me? If
you’ve paid attention to how many transactions the agent
averages per year (a higher number is better), you’ll have a
good idea how experienced a negotiator they are.
How will you find the best
value for me? Agents should be able to answer how they’ll
do this for you clearly and concisely, explaining the systems they
have in place that will make sure you’re getting a good value.
Do you have relationships
with industry professionals that will help me save on some of the
costs involved with buying a home? Everyone involved with a real
estate transaction gets a piece of the proverbial pie, and the list
of fees ranges includes lenders, lawyers, home inspectors, and
others. While these are all normal fees, the agent should have an
idea of these closing costs, and may have a relationship with some
of these folks to offer you some kind of discount.
Are you able to sell us a
new, resale or foreclosed home? Again, because laws governing
real estate and the professionals in the industry differ from region
to region, it’s a good idea to find out if there are any
restrictions on the types of property that the agent can sell you.
This is just a
sampling of questions you can ask real estate professionals during
the screening process. You may have others you’d like to add to
the list, which you can ask us now. We welcome your questions and