Since 80% of clients interview multiple Real Estate Agents before choosing one, I know some must be wondering, ‘What should I ask?’ I’d love to help you with that.
As a REALTOR® I have a unique behind-the-scenes view that clients wish for. After all, how do you sift through interview answers to find the truth? I posted about that here, and highly recommend reading it before choosing an agent. As for what to ask during the interview, there are questions to ask and also questions that, while some say they are ‘must-asks’, I think they’re a waste of time.
What To Ask:
- What are the top 3 things that separate you from your competitors?
- What marketing do you plan for my property? (if you’re selling) Ask how many open houses they plan, where and when they plan to advertise, and how often. What kind of online marketing do they do?
- Do you have references? (ask if references are related and if you can call them with additional questions)
- How much do you charge? Commissions are negotiable, but starting off with negotiating is poor form for either of you. For more on commission negotiation, check out my post on it here.
- How available are you during the process? Some agents work with a team, and clients are sometimes surprised to find their calls fielded by the team members rather than the agent themselves. Knowing ahead of time will minimize confusion.
- How will you help me find other professionals needed for this process? The agent should have available a list of people to recommend for various services. Mortgage brokers, lawyers, or home staging for example. Also, the agent will hopefully be working with a professional photographer, and may have staff to assist with administration.
- What else do I need to know? Pay attention here, because there is always more you need to know. The agent should have something helpful to say at this point.
Questions That Don’t Matter
Article after article advises the following questions be asked. Some articles even advise it and in the same breath say, “Don’t put too much emphasis on it.” Here are some of those highly-recommended questions whose answers really don’t matter.
- How long have you been in the business? Veterans can be highly skilled and connected. They can also be complacent or lazy. Newbies can be eager to serve and have time to dedicate to you. They can also have few resources to invest in marketing for you. This question reveals nothing of the agent, though it may reveal the assumptions of the one asking.
- What is your listing price to sales price ratio? Pricing properties is an art, and markets vary based on countless factors. To boil an agent’s value down to a single number is inaccurate and not useful. To quote the writer advising people to ask this exact question, “Sometimes market value has no bearing on the asking price and, in that that event, ratios are meaningless. Don’t put too much emphasis on ratios.”
Once you’ve interviewed the agents (hopefully you do this individually; all-at-once can create a less helpful cat-fight environment), it’s time to sift through their answers. My post on how to choose an agent helps you uncover who the agent really is behind their smile.