Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran of real estate transactions, it is beneficial to have the right real estate agent working on your behalf. But with hundreds of agents to choose from, how can you pick the right one?
You can begin by asking friends or family for names in your specific area. Hopefully, there will be names that would crop up more than once. When you have picked a couple of names, call the agent and set up a meeting where you can ask a few basic, but important questions.
Here are the 10 important questions that need to ask your agent:
1. How long have you been a real estate agent?
The response could be much more than a number of years. Yes, it is true that experience doesn’t always equate to success, but real estate agents get paid by commission and it would not be easy for an agent to survive for so many years by providing bad service. An experienced agent would have gone through many difficult situations and is less likely to be flustered should problems arise.
2. What is the average number of clients you serve?
The reason you’d want to know how many clients your agent has is you want to make sure they have enough time to attend to your needs. If your agent has many clients, ask how they plan to allot time to you in case you need more support. Find out if your agent has other team members or a licensed assistant who can help you if necessary.
3. What is your ratio of buyers to sellers?
Many agents specialise on either buyers or sellers. While it’s good to be skilled in one thing, this could also result in a narrow perspective. Would your agent be able to know what a seller is thinking if he or she has been working with buyers for most of his/her career and vice versa? Aside from that, if you were looking to sell your house and purchase a new one, the transaction would proceed much more smoothly if your agent has the experience to oversee the whole process.
4. What area do you cover?
While there are agents who are neighbourhood experts, there are also those who will travel a long distance. Don’t rule these agents out. It may be because they are a mobile office and only deal with repeat and referred clients. With the internet, it’s now easy to become more familiar with a larger territory and wouldn’t you prefer an agent with diverse knowledge? The risk with hiring a “neighbourhood expert” is that they may try to fit you in a particular area that doesn’t suit you. Work with someone who covers the inside and outside of your primary area of interest.
5. Do you work with a team?
There are many benefits to being in a team, but you have to clarify what your relationship will be with the other members from the start. Find out if you will be talking to many people or will be working with a specific agent throughout the process. Don’t expect to work with just one agent, but you need to know if you will be passed around from one step to the next.
6. Do you have the skill to deal with my particular circumstances?
You’ll want an agent who has experience in your particular situation, whether you’re a long-term investor, first home buyer, house flipper or selling an estate. Don’t be easily swayed by someone who replies with, “Don’t worry, I’ve handled this before.” Ask what unique problems could come up and how they would resolve it. Roll play!
7. What kinds of communications should I expect to get from you?
At this stage, you should be able to tell how you and your agent communicate with each other. Similarly essentially, this should be the stage where both of you set expectations on the frequency of updates, the most effective ways to utilise and who are the people who should be kept informed. You as a client should determine which of these things you feel most comfortable with.
8. Can you present a recommended vendors list?
A seasoned agent will have cultivated reliable relationships with lenders, title companies, contractors and other industry professionals. Your agent should be able to recommend to you names of professionals who will do the best job for you. But remember that these are just recommendations – the law gives you the right to choose who you want to work with throughout the process.
9. Can you provide the contact details for three references?
No one can judge the customer service provided by your agent better than past clients. Of course, agents are not expected to provide information on clients who disliked them, so don’t take what they say hook, line and sinker. Ask questions that are specific and open-ended based on your needs.
10. Do you have questions to want to ask to me?
This is the most critical question you will ask because it will determine the agent’s mindset and priorities. It gives the agent an opportunity to discuss marketing which is the most important factor. Any agent can provide an appraisal and ask what your selling price is but most are unfamiliar and have limited knowledge about how to attract buyers to view your home in the the first place. It doesn’t matter how good the agent is or how many ticks they got on the above 9 questions, if there are no buyers viewing your home it’s all for nothing.
Choose an agent who knows and understands all facets of marketing plus all the other attributes.