Whether you’re buying or selling a home, choosing the right realtor to partner with will be a critical decision towards a successful real estate transaction. And why is that, you ask? Well, first of all, a home represents a substantial investment–for most, the largest financial investment of their lives– and the realtor you choose will protect your interest and help you make savvy, informed decisions about your investment.
So, before signing with your prospective agent, it’s wise to treat the process like a job interview and ask important questions to ensure that he is not only great at their job but can help you accomplish your goals as a buyer or seller. Here are nine key questions to ask a real estate agent to determine if he is the right fit for your real estate investing needs.
Are you a full-time agent?
Part-time agents are common in the world of real estate. While working with them may still lead to a successful transaction, having a real estate agent who’s juggling another career or enjoying semi-retirement can become frustrating or add unnecessary risk to your home sale or purchase.
If you can, make sure that the person you choose to work with is a full-time agent. Not only will they have more up-to-date knowledge of the market, but they’re also more likely to respond to you promptly and without distractions.
How long have you been an agent?
Real estate agents vary in depth of experience, and it’s best to consider whether you’d want someone starting in the field to help you through one of the largest financial transactions of your life– especially if it’s your first time buying or selling a home.
Get to know your agent’s background and training and see if he’s knowledgeable and experienced enough to point out problems you might have overlooked and protect you through a complex process. If he’s a new agent, check his portfolio and customer feedbacks (if any) to help you make an informed decision.
Do you typically represent buyers or sellers?
Many real estate agents do both buying and selling transactions, taking in whatever clients they can get. While this may seem like an advantage, especially if you’re working with a reputable agent, it may pose a problem later on as it creates a conflict when they have a fiduciary duty to both parties.
Always remember that real estate transactions are complex, and there’ll be a lot on the line if something goes wrong. If you choose to sign with a specialist, they’d have already honed the unique skills needed for your type of transaction and may help you move faster to your real estate goal.
Do you have any referrals from past clients?
Asking for a referral from past clients is a great way to better understand how your chosen real estate agent works, their strengths, and their potential weaknesses. It also doesn’t hurt to check an agent’s online reviews before getting in touch with them to get a more unfiltered view of what sort of agent they are and whether most of their clients are left truly satisfied.
Do you work with a team?
Established agents, most often than not, choose to work with a team. Having spare hands help ensure that no details are overlooked and that communication is timely even if the realtor is temporarily tied up. Be sure to get this vital information to help you understand who you’re working with before signing up with anyone.
What’s your availability like?
Communication with your realtor is vital whether you’re buying or selling a home. Determine whether you’ll be a great match with an agent by asking their preferred contact method and their availability. If they’re willing to work around your preferences, you’re sure to breeze through the whole transaction. Similarly, you’ll want to work with an agent who can respond fairly quickly to your questions and concerns – no one likes waiting multiple days for a reply to an urgent question.
Do you have a list of trusted resources?
You’ll know you’re working with a great agent if they have a network of trusted resources they can vouch for, whether it’s a home inspector who always does a thorough job or a lender that provides competitive financing rates. Having access to a reputable network of resources will make things easier for you as a buyer or seller and ensure lesser problems to deal with as you go through the whole process (and even AFTER the transaction ends).
What’s your proposed marketing plan? (Sellers)
A seasoned agent will already have a proposed marketing plan ready to sell your home even before your first meeting. Don’t be afraid to ask your prospective realtor questions on how they plan to walk you through the whole process with ease and determine whether it’s the most optimal strategy for your situation.
What is your average list-price-to-sales-price ratio? (Buyers)
In general, homes sell for slightly less than their listing price. Ask about your buyer agent’s list-price-to-sales-price ratio and get a sense of their overall aptitude for negotiation. Keep in mind, though, that a hot seller’s market can throw this number off completely – especially in areas where bidding wars are common.
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