Not once, but twice this week I got to be someone’s rebound REALTOR®. Which is great. I love working with new clients and to be honest, the first REALTOR® set the bar so low, it was almost guaranteed that I’d make them happy. And happy clients are the best clients! (See my Ovations page – I have testimonials from both of these clients there.)
So how do you choose the right REALTOR® to work with when you’re thinking of buying or selling a home? Smart consumers interview potential agents before deciding which agent to hire. If you’re trying to find the perfect match with the right REALTOR®, use the following interview questions to ensure your success.
- Do they have experience?
Has the agent you’re interviewing actually sold any homes? Have they sold any homes recently? Remember that while some agents are full time, they might only sell a couple of homes a year. These contracts are complex and I would want a professional that reads and deals with them regularly to be representing me in a transaction.
- Are they a full-time agent?
I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to go to a part time doctor who just noodles around with medicine in the evening and on weekends. Real estate transactions are complex and could potentially be costly if you don’t have the right agent.
- Are they professional?
Is the REALTOR® you’re meeting with dressed professionally? Do they care about their image? Do they speak professionally or are they using slang terms? Do they have a well thought out professional presentation? You always hear the saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but sometimes the cover is a good indicator of the quality of person you’ll be working with.
- Do you like them?
This is more important than you think. I think everyone’s gut gives them good idea of who to work with and who not to. Even if the agent you’re interviewing is the #1 REALTOR® in the market, if you don’t like them or get a bad feeling about them, it’s probably best you don’t sign a contract with them. You’ll most likely regret it. There’s enough stress in a real estate transaction – no need to feel any more because you’re not getting along with your agent.
- What are the top 3 things that separate them from their competition?
What are three things that they can do for you that no one else can? What is superior about their offerings? If they tell you they have the best service, ask for specific examples of why their service is better than the rest.
- What is their marketing plan?
They’ve gotta have a plan. This is 99% of the job. The #1 responsibility of a listing agent is getting your house out to the masses to find a qualified buyer quickly. In 2017 a fully-formed real estate marketing plan should go far beyond entering your home into the MLS and putting a sign in your yard. If they don’t say the words “my additional online exposure includes…” or “Facebook”, you should terminate the conversation immediately.
- Who will you be working with for the majority of the transaction?
Will you be working with the agent themselves, their assistant or a team member? If you won’t be working directly with the agent you’re interviewing, can you meet with their staff?
- Can they explain a contract to you?
Speaking of contracts, the agent you’re interviewing should have a good knowledge of all of the forms and contracts they’re using. They should be able to easily explain any part of a contract to you.
- What do they charge and why? All real estate fees are negotiable and commission structures can be complex. Ask if they charge a net or gross commission and make sure you know how much they will be paying out to a buyer’s agent. Find out what is included in their commission. Are they going to use professional photography and/or offer staging assistance in the sale of your home? If it’s recommended, is that included or extra? If it’s extra and you’re asked to pay, will it be reimbursed upon the sale of your home? Or are these services completely beyond the scope of the agent?
- How are they going to communicate with you? I always ask what the preferred method of communication is for my clients and then try to communicate with them that way. It’ll make your relationship feel more natural.
- How do they use technology?
Does your agent using an online e-sign program? Are they posting your listing everywhere they possibly can? Do they have a smart phone so they can respond to a call/text/email quickly? I’ve found that my clients love e-signing documents. It makes the process so much more convenient for everyone.
- When are they available?
I think it’s assumed that all agents work evenings and weekends but that’s not always the case. Some agents only work during the day and will ask you to accommodate their schedule.
- If I am not completely satisfied, can I terminate my contract?
I saved the best question for last. I’d be uber wary of anyone that tells you that you can’t terminate a contract if they’re receiving what they agreed upon.
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