Questions You Should Ask a Realtor® in an Interview
Buying or selling a home is not an easy task, and it can be complicated at best. For this reason, many people turn to real estate agents and Realtors® to help them with the workload involved and negotiate a better deal. Home purchases are significant though, so it is completely reasonable to be very picky about the agent that you hire to get the job done. In order to find the one who is the best fit for you, we’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask an agent or Realtor® during an interview so that you can have a better idea of who you will be working with.
1. Can you give me your references?
As we all would do if we were asked this question during an interview, agents are most likely to provide glowing reviews reflecting all of their positive qualities. So whether you are selling your home or buying a new one, make sure you contact several references to ask about what it is really like to work with that specific agent and if they were satisfied with the work the agent did.
Make sure that the references if they are at all related to the agent as well, because you will find more balanced and unbiased reviews from previous clients who are not family members or close friends with them.
2. Do you work on your own or with a team?
Real estate teams are not unusual nowadays, and there are advantages and disadvantages that come with them. Sometimes the main agent has support staff and other times teams consist of a group of agents all working together. If your agent is part of a team, this could mean that some of the agent’s workload behind the scenes is reduced, resulting in more time to answer any questions you have and personalized focus on your interests and needs. On the other hand, if the agent is part of a team, you might not always interact with that agent consistently. If they are unavailable at the time, you might end up talking with a secretary or another agent.
If the agent is on a team, asking them what their personal responsibilities are can give you a good idea of how often you will be able to communicate and if you have direct access to the agent rather than going through a secretary or another agent first.
3. How many clients do you represent currently?
This is a challenging question because you have to come prepared with an idea of what a good or bad number of clients is. On the one hand, you don’t want your agent’s attention to be so divided that they are difficult to reach when you have questions. If they mention they currently handle 40 listings or represent 15 buyers, you might never get a phone call through to them, or they might be so busy they accidentally rush the process of selling your home by listing it at a price that is too low. On the flip side, if the agent doesn’t have very many clients it could be because they lack experience or positive reviews from previous clients. Or it could mean that being an agent is more of a side job and their main focus is elsewhere.
You will want to avoid both of these scenarios and accept the fact that most agents and Realtors® who are excellent at what they do will have plenty of clients. At the same time though, you want to make sure that your home and your needs gets the right amount of attention and personalized service.
4. Can I have this area’s CMA?
No real estate agent should have a problem providing a comparative market analysis (also referred to as a CMA), which lists the homes that were recently sold and homes that are for sale in the local area. This way you can compare factors like the number of bedrooms, price, and square footage of similar homes in the market around you to give you a listing price idea for your own home as well as its sales potential. Agents with experience know how important this process is and will make it a priority. With a CMA you can also compare your agent’s advice to the local market trends to confirm everything is on track.
5. How will you go about marketing my home?
There is a lot more to marketing a home than a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. One of the great benefits of hiring a Realtor® is the direct access you get to their marketing resources. This usually involves posting your home on the Multiple Listing Service (or MLS) as soon as possible as well as putting ads in several other places online and in print.
6. What is your experience?
This can be a broad question so it’s good to come prepared with the specific information you want to get. While knowing how many years the agent has been in the business is good, you will also want to know their listing-price-to-selling-price ratio (which is the price the home was originally listed for compared to the price the home actually sold for). Agents should always be prepared to answer that question, and the closer to 100% their ratio is, the better. Even if that number happens to be high, you will want to know about their strategy to get it that way. Do they leave houses on the market for extended periods of time so that the home sells for its listing price? If the number is low, is it because they consider time to be a more valuable commodity and will take a lower price?
It’s also important to ask if his years of experience in real estate include selling homes similar to yours because all agents will have expertise in different areas. If the agent has been in the business for 20 years, but specializes in commercial real estate rather than residential, the market knowledge and advertising strategy won’t be the same as someone who has sold dozens of homes just like yours.
7. How will we communicate?
Knowing in advance how your agent will communicate with you is essential. You will want to find out what kinds of updates they will tell you about, how often you will be updated, and their preferred form of communication. For example: Will they tell you about every potential buyer or only the qualified and/or serious ones? Will they keep you on a need-to-know basis, or update you on each step of the process including paperwork, title insurance, home inspections, and more?
This is one of the most important questions you can ask an agent in an interview because you will want to know if they will accommodate your preferences or not as well as how accessible they will be. Do they prefer emails, calls, or texts? Will they answer emails quickly? Is the agent okay with answering questions outside of business hours?
8. What are my home’s drawbacks?
Asking about your home’s flaws can be a great way to learn about a Realtor®. Seasoned and honest Realtors® aren’t afraid to acknowledge the drawbacks of homes because these are important to keep in mind during the selling process. Recognizing flaws early on will give you the chance to fix them if possible and set a realistic listing price. Agents who don’t mention what you know to be flaws in your home might be trying to get you to sign a contract with nothing but positive things to say but only half-hearted dedication.