Far too many buyers and sellers hire the very first real estate agent they contact. But real estate transactions are a big deal, and you deserve the best possible representation. Before you choose your real estate agent, invest some time in researching multiple agents and finding the agent that best suits you.
First, do your homework! You should be able to learn a lot about your agent candidates online. Including things like:
- Online presence: Having a professional website and social media presence indicates that the agents are keeping current.
- Sales records: Make sure the list of recently sold properties includes properties in your neighborhood.
- Testimonials: What do the agents’ clients have to say about them?
With your own research complete, it’s time to interview the agents and ask the hard-hitting questions.
How soon will you reply to my emails/calls/texts?
You can’t expect your real estate agent to be available to you 24/7. But you deserve a prompt reply when you reach out to your agent. Just asking this question forces the agent to make a mental note of their explicit commitment to replying to you within a specified time frame.
Generally speaking, the shorter the promised response time, the better. Most agents should be able to commit to replying to all messages within 12 hours.
What is your average list-price-to-sale-price ratio?
The list-price-to-sale-price ratio is an indicator of a savvy agent. It shows how close your agent gets the final sale price to the original listing price.
If you’re selling, you want this number to be as close to 100% as possible to show that the agent knows how to price homes and knows how to negotiate to get full value.
If you’re buying, you want this number to be as low as possible to show that your agent knows how to negotiate a lower price and get you a good deal.
Your agent should be tracking their seller’s agent average and buyer’s agent average separately so that they can show you how well they perform for each group.
Is your commission negotiable?
In fact, all real estate agent commissions are negotiable. However, a good agent will explain to you that they are not willing to reduce their commission.
Remember, your agent will be negotiating on your behalf. How can you expect them to navigate tough negotiations on your behalf if they are unable to stand firm on their own commission?
Where’s the best […] in this neighborhood?
Your real estate agent should know your neighborhood inside and out! Asking where the best pizza, hardware store, or hotel is will give the agent a chance to show how well they know your neighborhood.
Their actual answer doesn’t matter as much as how they answer. Do they know places off the top of their heads? Or do they hem and haw and eventually tell you about a place in another neighborhood?
How can I get in touch with your references?
Your agent should have at least three references ready for you to contact. Make sure the references include at least two former clients (one buyer and one seller).
Reach out to those references before you make your decision. Ask questions like what was your experience like with this agent? andwould you hire this agent again?
Don’t make the mistake of hiring the first agent you come across or assuming that the agent in your extended family is the best person for the job. Do your homework, ask the hard questions and find an agent you trust to represent you and your best interests.