Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Interviewing prospective real estate agents before deciding which agent to hire is a smart thing to do. While you’re talking to a prospective agent to gauge whether they are a good fit, be aware that the agent is also interviewing you. Beware of agents who don’t ask questions to determine your goals. You wouldn’t want to sign just anybody, and good agents are just as picky with the people they take on as clients.
Below are some of the questions you should ask when interviewing a real estate agent:
1. How many years have you been in sales?
Notice the question was not, how long have you been an agent?  This is because there is no reason why a newbie agent is not as good as an agent who has been in the industry for a long time.  The reason being that a good agent may have been selling another product or item, have an impeccable sales history and more than capable of adapting to selling homes where some agents who have been in the industry for a long time have become complacent and not kept up with new trends in marketing.   There’s nothing wrong with a freshly licensed agent as long as they have had access to good mentors and they’ve attained a high level of training, just the same as a seasoned agent. Another advantage of hiring a newbie agent is that they have more time to focus on you.
2. What is your average list-price-to-sales-price ratio?
A good listing agent is not necessarily a good selling agent.  This is there the ratios play a very important part because it allows you to anticipate the results.  Many agents will provide you with a high appraisal price but end up selling for a much lower price.  Beware of these agents as they are just trying to get you signed up!!

3. What is the best marketing plan that would fit my needs?
Here are some things you need to know as a seller:

  • Does a direct mail campaign suit my needs? Why or why not?
  •  Where do you place ads and how often?
  •  Do you offer professional photography?
  •  What is your marketing strategy online?
  • What is the method you recommend using to sell my home and why?

4. Can you provide references?
All agents have references, whether they are new or experienced. Ask for references and ask whether any of the people on the list is related to the agent. Ask if it is okay to call the references for additional information.
You may not need any references if the agent has numerous reviews online. 
5. What distinguishes you from other agents?
A good agent will have a ready answer to this question. Each seller’s standards are unique, so know what is important to you but above all make sure that their answers include something about how they market your property and negotiate with the buyers.
6. May I see the papers that I would need to sign beforehand?
A good agent will have no objection to you reviewing the documents prior to signing and will always explain every component of the paperwork at the time of signing. 
These include:

  • Selling Agency Agreement
  • Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Questionnaire
  • Material Fact Sheet
  • Proof of Identity Checklist &
  • Department of Fair Trading Fact Sheet

7. How much is your fee?
No need to ask if fees are negotiable because they are. Normally, the fee is a percentage, from 1% to 3%, to represent the selling side of a transaction.  You get what you pay for in the real estate industry. Thus, expect a higher fee for top agents.  After all, the agents charging a lower fee are usually doing so because they have to to get a listing then often can’t or don’t know how to provide the service.
8. Do you offer a guarantee? If so, what kind?
If you find yourself unhappy with the agent you hired and you have some kind of guarantee in pace, will you be able to use it?  What are the company’s rules on cancelled contracts? Has a past client terminated an agreement with him/her before?
9. What are the things that I haven’t asked that I need to know?
Focus on the agent’s responses to your questions because you may glimpse something else that you need to ask. You would want an agent who takes his/her time with you to allow you to get comfortable and really determine their skills and knowledge. He/she should be a good listener and be able to offer advice, and able to ask the right questions to find out the things he/she needs to serve you better.

10.  Secret shop your potential agent.
The best way to gauge how an agent will treat your buyers is to act like one!  Go to a couple of their open homes or enquire on a listing they have.  

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