Buying or selling a home is stressful and, with our current real estate boom, the market is saturated with players. A capable real estate agent acts as a guide to help you navigate through the complex process. Your agent is also a liaison between you and buyers or potential buyers and their experience, local knowledge and negotiation skills can go a long way in saving you time and money. But with so many realtors to choose from, how do you know which to choose?
There’s value in asking friends, neighbors, and acquaintances for recommendations on local realtors. However, it’s wise to interview potential realtors before making a decision. Here are eight questions you must ask every potential real estate agent before doing business with them.
1. How Many Homes Did You Sell Last Year?
Experience counts. Though most real estate agents will be diligent about meeting your needs and requirements, prior experience helps in overcoming challenges and avoiding common mistakes. However, the number of years in the field doesn’t always translate into expertise. Asking this question helps you get a sense of their actual selling experience.
2. Is Real Estate Your Full or Part-Time Job?
If your prospective realtor works another job, it may be hard to reach them with questions or to schedule meetings. They may not be available to work on your deal during regular business hours, which may hold up the process. Asking this question before you sign the contract will give you clarity on the amount of time the realtor will dedicate to your work depending on his/her availability.
3. Which Neighborhoods Have You Worked In?
Many realtors specialize in specific locations or neighborhoods. Asking this question will help to ensure your prospective realtor is familiar with your area. If you’re selling your Green Valley Ranch home, an agent familiar with the area will have connections that facilitate faster and more advantageous deals versus an agent who is based in another part of the city.
4. Do You Have Support Staff or Do You Work on Your Own?
If the prospective realtor works with support staff, you should be clear on who will manage your project so that you have a sole point of contact. On the other hand, if the realtor is working independently, you want to make sure they have enough bandwidth to give your deal proper attention. Also ask which tools and technology they use. Mobile apps, electronic signatures, and social media or email marketing help in making the process of buying and selling property faster.
5. Are You Licensed by the National Association of Realtors?
Only an agent who is a member of The National Association of Realtors is allowed to use the title ‘Realtor.’ When awarded with this title, the agent agrees to abide by the organization’s Code of Ethics and to undergo ongoing education in the field. Receiving a realtor’s license requires a series of stringent testing, education, and a decent understanding of the real-estate business. Asking this question will help you understand the realtor’s membership status. Moreover, this license will also help you check for any lawsuits or complaints filed against him/her. In most states in the U.S., the license number can be entered online to check whether or not the realtor is in good standing.
6. How Many Clients Are You Currently Representing?
Realtors who have numerous clients are typically thought to be more experienced in handling multiple cases effectively and enjoy a sound reputation in the market. However, apart from checking the clientele count, make sure you ask about the number of deals closed successfully. This will be an accurate indicator of their efficiency.
7. How Often Will We Communicate?
Ideally, a realtor is expected to keep you posted about the latest updates pertaining to your property on a regular basis. They must inform you of the latest deals (if you are a buyer) and of prospective customers (if you are a seller). You should be able to easily reach the agent via a phone call or an email.
8. Can I Contact Your References?
This is the best way to measure the confidence of your realtor in handling your property matter. If the agent has had a long history of managing deals successfully, they will have a list of satisfied clients. Ask for names and contact details of at least two recent clients. Follow up by contacting the clients and asking about their experiences dealing with the realtor and the support received during the process.
Choosing the right real estate professional is an important first step when deciding to buy or sell a home. Make sure to always interview your realtor before signing on to avoid trouble later on. The above questions will help you find a responsible realtor who will seamlessly lead you through your property investment decisions.