Not all real estate agents are the same. If you decide to seek the help of an agent when selling or buying your home, you need some good information before you make any moves.
An agent can cost or save you thousands of dollars!
Picking an agent is one of those critical issues that can cost or save you thousands of dollars. There are very specific questions you should be asking to ensure that you get the best representation for your needs. Some agents may prefer that you don’t ask these questions, since the knowledge you’ll gain from their honest answers will give you a very good idea about what outcome you can expect from using them as an agent. And let’s face it - in real estate, as in life - not all things are created equal. Hiring a real estate agent is just like any hiring process - with you on the boss’s side of the desk. It’s critical that you make the right decision about who will handle what since this is probably the single largest financial investment you will ever make.
1. What Makes You Different? Why Should I List My Home With You?
It’s a much tougher real estate market than it was a decade ago, even a year ago. What unique marketing plans and programs does this agent have in place to make sure that your home stands out favorably versus the multitudes of other competing homes? What does this agent offer you that others don’t to help you market your home in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle and for the most amount of money?
2. What Is Your Company’s Track Record and Reputation in The Market Place?
It may seem like everywhere you look, real estate agents are boasting about being #1 for this or that, or quoting you the number of homes they’ve sold. If you’re like many homeowners, you’ve probably become immune to much of this information. After all, you ask, “Why should I care about how many homes one agent sold over another. The only thing I care about is whether they can sell my home quickly for the most amount of money.” Well, because you want your home sold fast and for top dollar, you should be asking the agents you interview how many homes they have sold. I’m sure you will agree that success in real estate is selling homes. If one agent is selling a lot of homes where another is selling only a handful, ask yourself why this might be? What things are these two agents doing differently? You may be surprised to know that many agents sell fewer than 5 homes a year. Industry insiders have long recognized that 10% of the agents do 90% of the transactions. The less experienced agent’s lower volume makes it difficult for them to do full impact marketing on your home because they can’t raise the money it takes to afford the advertising and special programs to give your home a high profile. Also, at this low level, they probably can’t afford to hire an assistant, which means that they’re running around trying to do all the components of the job themselves. Bottom line, their service to you may suffer.
3. What Are Your Marketing Plans For My Home?
How much money does this agent spend in advertising their listed homes versus the other agents you are interviewing? In what media does this agent advertise? What do they know about the effectiveness of one medium over the other? Considering how over 85% of consumers use the internet for their real estate information, does this agent have a meaningful internet presence?
4. What Homes Have Sold in My Area?
The agents should bring you a complete list of comparable sales in your area. What happens if you have 3 full baths and central a/c but all the comparable properties have only 2 full baths and no a/c? The agent should have the expertise to demonstrate how your home compares to the comparable sales and make appropriate adjustments.
5. Does Your Broker Control Your Advertising or Do You?
If your agent is not in control of their own advertising, then your home will be competing for advertising space not only with this agent’s other listings, but also with the listings of every other agent in the brokerage.
6. On Average, When Your Listings Sell, How Close Is The Selling Price To The Asking Price?
This information is available from the Real Estate Board. Is this agent’s performance higher or lower than the board average? Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how high a price you will get for the sale of your home.
7. On Average, How Long Does It Take For Your Listings To Sell?
This information is also available from the Real Estate Board. Does this agent tend to sell faster or slower than the board average? Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how long your home will be on the market before it sells.
8. Which Real Estate Certifications/Designations Has The Agent Earned?
Most agents do not make the effort to acquire these certifications/designations. Some of the certifications/designations take over 2 years to achieve and cost more than $10,000. Others are not as intense but never-the-less increase the agent’s knowledge level. Bottom line is certifications/designations increase the agent’s competence and are an indicator of their commitment as a real estate professional.
9. Do You Have a Reference List of Clients I Could Contact?
Ask to see this list and then proceed to spot check some of the names.
10. What Happens If I’m Not Happy With The Job You Are Doing To Get My Home Sold?
Can I cancel my listing contract? Be wary of agents that lock you into a lengthy listing contract which they can get out of (by ceasing to effectively market your home) but you can’t. There are usually penalties and broker protection periods which safeguard the agent’s interests, but not yours. How confident is your agent in the service they will provide you? Will they allow you to cancel your contract without penalty if you’re not satisfied with the service provided?
Evaluate each agent’s responses to these 10 questions carefully and objectively. Who will do the best job for you? These questions will help you decide.