Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling your home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your life and it is important that you choose an agent that works in your best interest at all times. Below are questions to ask any real estate agents you are considering representing you either as a buyer or a seller. First general questions and then we will get into buyer/seller specifics:

General Questions:

Are you a full-time professional real estate agent? How long have you worked full time in real estate?
Knowing whether or not your agent practices full time can help you determine potential scheduling conflicts and his or her commitment to your transaction. As with any profession, the number of years a person has been in the business does not necessarily reflect the level of service you can expect, but it is a good starting point for your discussion.
What professional designations do you have?
A designation represents a commitment to ongoing education and improvement. If you are a particular niche of buyer or seller such as a senior, luxury property holder, international client, etc., finding an agent who is specially trained in providing expertise to you is important.
Will you give me names of past clients?
Interviewing an agent can be similar to interviewing someone to work in your office. Contacting references can be a reliable way for you to understand how he or she works, and whether or not this style is compatible with your own.
Do you have a personal assistant, team or staff to handle different parts of the purchase or sale?
What are their names and how will each of them help me in my transaction? How do I communicate with them?
It is not uncommon for agents who sell a lot of houses to hire people to work with them. As their businesses grow, they must be able to deliver the same or higher quality service to more people.
You may want to know who on the team will take part in your transaction, and what role each person will play. You may even want to meet the other team members before you decide to work with the team. If you have a question about fees on your closing statement, who would handle that? Who will show up to your closing? It is okay to have expectations when you are selling your home. 
How are your fees structured? May I have that in writing?
Around here, the seller usually pays all agent commissions. Sometimes, agents will have other small fees, such as administrative or special service fees, that are charged to clients, regardless of whether they are buying or selling. Be aware of the big picture before you sign any agreements. Ask for an estimate of costs from any agent you contemplate employing.
How will you keep me informed?
This is a great question because you’ll be surprised at how many agents don’t have a good answer for it.  The correct answer is, “How do you want to be kept informed?”  A good agent will communicate with you based on your preferences, not theirs.

Buyer Questions:

How long have you been representing buyers in this area?
Neighborhood knowledge is invaluable. Nuances such as knowing about neighborhood parks, schools, proximity to local amenities, drive times, etc, is extremely important information buyers need to make an informed decision about their real estate investment.
How many buyers have you completed transactions for and what is your average per year?
This is an interesting question because on the one hand, an agent who works with many buyers every year may be juggling too much. But on the other hand, each transaction represents problems that have been solved and relationships that have been forged with people who may be enlisted to help with YOUR transaction. 
What specific search systems do you have in place to help in my home search?
Anyone can put their name into a search listing function and send you new listings. You need an agent who actively searches for what you want based on your specific requests. If a property that meets your needs is not available, a determined agent will scour expired or cancelled listings and even put out the call to homeowners in areas you are interested in. You may also want an agent who will preview the properties before sending them to you depending on how fast properties are selling and if time allows.
How will you help me know a good price to offer and make sure I am not overpaying?
That is always a dilemma isn’t it – finding the sweet spot. Your agent should provide you with a clear plan for determining market value and then you can make your decision on an offer price based on the relationship between market value and list price. We can discuss your custom offer strategy. 

Seller Questions:

Do you have a Website that will list my home?
Most buyers prefer to search online for homes because it’s available 24 hours a day and can be done at home. When your home is listed it is imperative that it be found on websites that buyers are searching. It should also be listed on the agent’s website as well as their company’s website. By searching your agent’s Website you will get a clear picture of how much information is available online.
How will you keep in contact with me during the selling process, and how often?
Some agents may email, text, or call you daily to tell you that visitors have toured your home, while others will keep in touch weekly. Asking this question can help you to reconcile your needs with your agent’s systems.
What do you do that other agents don’t that ensures I’m getting top dollar for my home? What is your average market time versus other agents’ average market time?
Marketing skills are learned, and sometimes a real estate professional’s unique method of research and delivery makes the difference. For example, an agent might research the demographics of your neighborhood and present you a target market list for direct marketing purposes.
How do you develop a pricing strategy for our home?
Although location and condition affect the selling process, price is the primary factor in determining if a home sells quickly, or at all. Access to current property information is essential, and sometimes a pre-appraisal will help. Ask your agent how they created the market analysis, and whether your agent included For Sale by Owner homes, foreclosed homes and bank-owned sales in that list.
What will you do to sell my home? Who determines where and when my home is marketed/ promoted? Who pays for your advertising?
Ask your real estate agent to present to you a clear plan of how marketing and advertising dollars will be spent. If there are other forms of marketing available but not specified in the plan ask who pays for those. Request samples or case studies of the types of marketing strategies that your agent proposes (such as websites and social media, print magazines, open houses, and local publications).
I look forward to answering these questions for you and outlining what I can do for you!