If buying or selling a home will rank among the biggest transaction you’ll ever make, shouldn’t you be hiring the best real estate agent possible? It seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do their due diligence and end up hiring the wrong agent. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap by doing your research and interviewing several agents that serve your neighbourhood. It’s highly recommended to get face-to-face with at least two agents before making a choice, as you’ll get a chance to ask them valuable questions and get a feel for how they operate. You won’t get a real picture of who you’re hiring unless you interview.
That being said, it isn’t quite as simple as that. Just because you shake someone’s hand doesn’t mean you’ll know if they’re a good real estate agent or not. To begin figuring it out you’ll need to ask the right questions, and lots of them, to see if the agent knows his or her stuff and if they are a good fit for your situation. Don’t worry about seeming like a stickler as any top agent will be accustomed to the interview process and should be happy to showcase their knowledge and skills.
What questions should I ask a real estate agent?
After interviewing many of our past clients, we noticed that there was often a concern about not knowing which questions to ask during the interview process. Unless you are well versed in real estate you might find it difficult to come up with a list of things to ask a potential real estate agent before deciding to hire them. That’s why we’re going to share with you the best questions to ask a real estate agent. Keep reading.
Questions for a sellers agent
Experience & track record
You should ask questions that will help your agent demonstrate their level of experience in your area and at your price point. Forget about asking how long they’ve been in business, instead inquire how many clients they’ve helped in the last 12 months. Ask to see the results of those transactions so you can verify they were closed successfully.
Ask to see a list-to-price ratio
It’s important to know how your agents listing prices compare to the actual sales prices. Good numbers will sit above 90% of listing price while anything too far below should raise some red flags.
What is your sales history in my neighbourhood?
The local market in different communities can vary greatly in terms of the types of homes for sale, what buyers want, appropriate listing prices and more. When an agent sells a home they are also selling the neighbourhood and what it has to offer. An agent with local experience can make a huge difference to the success of your sale.
What is the average days on market for your listings?
Asking to see how long your agents’ listings sit on the market can help you determine if they are in line with the other agents you interview. If their number is higher than usual and the agent doesn’t offer a reasonable explanation, you should move onto another agent.
Do you have experience selling homes in my price range?
What it takes to sell could be very different depending on the price of your home, and your agent should understand exactly what your price range requires.
What’s your marketing strategy for my home?
A well thought out marketing plan is necessary to sell your home quickly. A good marketing strategy should include online, print media and in-person advertising. Many agents will also help stage your home, take listing photos and have a list of potential buyers already lined up. If your agent is vague about outlining a plan, or one of these aspects is missing – it might mean you should move onto another agent.
What is your commission breakdown?
As the seller, you will typically be responsible for the buyer’s agent fees as well as your own sellers agent’s commission. It is important to have a clear understanding about your agent’s fees and what services are included. This will put both of you on the same page and you’ll know exactly what to expect.
How do you typically follow up with buyers who attended your open houses?
A good agent should be keeping track and following up with every potential buyer that visited your open house. Even if those buyers don’t end up being interested in your home, they can still be a source of useful information. Asking them questions about what they thought of your property and the listing can help your agent fine tune your offer. An agent that doesn’t go the extra mile isn’t the right person to sell your home.
Do you have partnerships with other real estate and home service professionals?
Experienced agents should have a list of real estate related professionals they regularly enlist for their clients. This means a real estate lawyer, mortgage advisor, home inspector, home stager, photographer, cleaning service, moving companies and so on. If you trust your real estate agent, you can rely on their judgement in hiring these associated professionals if they’re needed and save yourself the hassle of finding them on your own.
Questions for a buyers agent
What are the terms of the buyer’s agency agreement?
A buyers agent will have your best interests at heart and be working exclusively for you. You might be asked to sign a contract giving the agent exclusive rights to show you homes for an agreed period – usually from 3 to 12 months. These agreements are common, but you’ll definitely want to know the details beforehand.
Do you require a pre-approval?
Clients often spend a lot of time looking at homes without knowing if they are qualified to buy. This wastes everyone’s time so many agents will require a pre-approval before taking on clients and spending energy showing them homes. After all, you want your agent to seek out and research homes that fit your needs and not simply show you homes based on convenience.
Do you have experience helping buyers like me?
Purchasing a home can involve a lot of considerations that your agent should be experienced with. Transactions with first-time buyers, real estate investors, clients moving from one city to another, those upsizing to fit a growing family or downsizing due to a divorce all benefit from a unique approach. It’s important that your agent understands what’s required and has experience successfully completing deals for clients like you.
General questions for both buyers and sellers agents
Are you a full-time real estate agent?
This is a good opening questions because hearing “no” for an answer will quickly let you know that you should move onto the next agent on your list.
If you’re a buyer, the best deals on the market are often sold within days, if not hours of listing, which means your agent will always need to be on the ball and be ready to act quickly.
As a seller, you need an agent that will go the extra mile to find a buyer for your home. Selling a home is a lot of work – from choosing the listing price and creating the marketing plan to showing, negotiating and getting a sale across the line.
It is not recommended to hire someone who isn’t going to provide a full-time effort on your deal.
Do you represent both buyers and sellers during a single transaction?
When an agent represents both buyer and seller on the same deal it is referred to as dual agency. This scenario has the potential to cause a conflict of interest, and your interests may not be best represented. This type of agent is generally not recommended.
Are you familiar and experienced in my neighbourhood?
This is a big transaction with a significant amount of cash involved so you’ll want to know you’re in capable hands. You can ask to see your agents sales history to get a better idea of how successful their transactions have been. You’ll want an agent who buys or sells homes in your area regularly because this shows they will be up-to-date with the local market.
For sellers, an agent who is well versed in your neighbourhood will be able to price your home more accurately while showcasing it more effectively to buyers.
An agent with local experience and a history of success is much preferred to someone who doesn’t specialize in your area..
How will we communicate during the process?
Do you prefer phone calls, text messaging, emails or face-to-face meetings? It’s vital that you are able to communicate properly with your agent throughout your transaction. Voice your expectations so you both know what to expect.
What if I’m not satisfied with your service?
If for some reason you aren’t happy with the service your agent is providing you should be allowed the opportunity to seek out someone else. While it’s often overlooked this is a must ask question because you should know your options in case you need to terminate your contract.
Always communicate any concerns to your agent and give them the opportunity to set things right. If not, let your agent know you’ve chosen to move in a different direction.
Ask for the agents credentials
On top of having experience and a positive track record in your neighbourhood, it is important to make sure your agent is properly licensed.
Do you have a list of referrals from past clients?
Any agent worth his or her salt will be able to provide you with a list of previous clients as referrals. We recommend taking advantage of the wealth of information previous clients can give you and actually reach out for their opinions.
How many clients are you currently representing?
Having an agent that is busy can mean that they are successful and they have experience, but you’ll also want them to be focused on your transaction. It’s a fine line and you’ll have to use your judgement, but speaking to your agent about this issue can help. A red flag could be that they were difficult to get a hold of or you had a tough time scheduling an interview with them.
Do you have a support team to assist you?
There’s a lot of things to take care of during a real estate transaction, so an agent with a support team is great. You don’t want to see a new face at every meeting but you also need your agent to have time to work for you. A small team is ideal and you can ask to be introduced to everyone working on your transaction so you feel comfortable. If your agent doesn’t have support, make sure they don’t have too many other deals on the go.
Do you attend home inspections for your client?
You rely on your agent to advise you properly, which means they need to fully understand the home they are helping you buy or sell. There is no better time to get detailed information about a home then when the home inspector is present. If your agent doesn’t attend inspections personally, or at least have a team member do so, you should consider moving onto another agent.
What is your negotiation style?
This question might seem vague because every negotiation is different, but it’s important to know your agent has this skill set in his or her bag. The best agents strive to create a win-win situation for all parties involved and knowing how to be accommodating while getting things is a real asset.
Things to consider after interviewing a real estate agent
You’ve interviewed an agent and asked the questions on your list, but now what. The next step is to ask yourself how you feel about the interview and the agent, and then ultimately make a choice.
You can consider the following as a starting point:
Do you like and trust your agent?
Do you feel comfortable that you are in good hands?
Do you see yourself working well together until your transaction is closed?
Do they understand your wants, needs and concerns?
Do you feel they will put your interests first?
Do you feel they have the necessary skills and experience to be successful?
Keasy can provide help finding a real estate agent
Looking for a real estate agent to represent you? Check out the Keasy Unlock program and get connected with the best agents for your particular transaction. Unlock analyzes millions of transactions in Canada to compare all the agents in your area and highlight the ones that suit you best. Let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll find you a local real estate agent that has experience and a successful track record closing deals just like yours. Keasy is always unbiased, fast, easy and free so you can skip some of the hassles involved in finding the right agent.
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