Interviewing several potential real estate agents is key for finding the right one for you. Good agents are often just as selective when choosing their clients, since their reputation in the industry is what garners much of their business. They want to serve you to the best of their ability, and if they don't have experience with the type of home you're searching for, they are usually happy to recommend a colleague who does.
We've put together a list of the most important interview questions for you to ask your agent in order to help you find the perfect match that will lead you to your perfect house.
There's a running joke that there's nothing wrong with a new agent that a little experience won't fix. However, a newly licensed agent can be as helpful as any, given they have access to competent mentors and received a high level of training. Newer agents also tend to have more time to concentrate on you, since they are still building their reputation and clientele.
A good agent won't hesitate to answer this question and will be ready to list off several reasons why they are best for the job. Most consumers are looking for agents who say they are honest and trustworthy, good communicators, friendly, organized, assertive, excellent at negotiations, available by phone or email, and able to maintain a good sense of humor under trying circumstances.
Everyone has references, and even new agents should have references from previous employers. Ask if any of the references are related to the agent, and if you can call the references with any additional questions.
The agent's average ratio often speaks volumes about their skill. Especially in the current market, a good buyer's agent should be able to negotiate a sales price that is lower than list price for buyers. A good listing agent should hold a track record for negotiating sales prices that are very close to list prices and should therefore have higher ratios closer to 100%. Buyer's agent ratios should always fall below 99%.
As a buyer, you'll need to know how your agent will search for your new home, how many homes you're likely to see before finding a home to buy, whether you'll be competing against other buyers, how multiple offers are handled, and who presents the offers.
Making forms available for client preview is a sign of a great real estate professional. If at all possible, ask for these documents upfront: a buyer's broker agreement (and ask whether it's exclusive or non-exclusive), agency disclosures, purchase agreement, and buyer disclosures.
Ask your real estate agent to detail whom they work with and why they chose these professionals. Your agent should be able to supply you with a written list of referring vendors such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors and title companies. Be wary if you see the term "affiliated." The agent and broker could be receiving compensation from one or all of the vendors, and you could end up paying a premium for the service.
All real estate fees are negotiable. Real estate agents typically charge a commission from 1% to 4%. Don't be afraid to barter with your agent, and make sure to note their rate to compare against others you interview.
If you decide to sign a listing or buying agreement with the agent and later realize you're unhappy with the arrangement, will the agent let you cancel the agreement? Does the agent stand behind their service to you? What is their company policy about canceled agreements? Has anybody ever canceled an agreement with the agent before?
Pay close attention to the answer for this question, because there is always something you need to know. You want an agent who is willing to take time with you in order to make sure you feel comfortable and secure with their knowledge and experience. The agent should know how to listen and how to counsel you accordingly.
Didn't find the answer you wanted? Ask one of your own.