Here Are 11 Powerful and Insightful Questions You Should Ask a Real Estate Agent BEFORE You Sign Anything!
Real Estate Agents Are NOT All The Same!
Hiring the wrong agent can mean the difference between making or losing money, selling or buying quickly…or taking a long time, a trouble-free transaction or a living nightmare. Unless you have experience interviewing people (and real estate agents in particular), you won’t always know what questions to ask. Further, you won’t always know what answer will best suit your needs for buying or selling. So here’s a list of important and insightful questions you should ask ANY Real estate agent BEFORE you sign anything.
Question #1: How Long Have You Been Practicing Real Estate?
This question will reveal more than just years practicing. You want to delve down into the number of transactions, average price range, specialized areas and types of homes they’ve purchased or sold. You also want to know how productive they’ve been in each year in practice. Some agents in business less than five years may have more experience than other agents in business 10 years or more! You want to know how many brokers they’ve worked for, and what kind of experience they have that will apply directly to your real estate situation.
Question #2: What Qualifications Do You Have To Sell Real Estate?
This question looks for their overall commitment and dedication to building his/her personal skills. If they’re not willing to commit to improving themselves, they may not commit to your needs and satisfaction either. First, look at their overall education. Did they go to college? Do they have any Realtor or professional designations? How often do they invest in improving their skills and keeping up with technology and other industry trends? Experience should also carry over to negotiating and financial skills. And don’t forget the ancillary experience required for real estate.
Question #3: Tell Me About Your Personal Real Estate Operation?
This is an open-ended question designed to get your real estate agent talking about his or her business. You want to know how much they’ve invested into their business as it relates to giving you competent and quality service. Do they have technology that allows you to easily reach them? Do they have a private office either with the broker or are they on their own? (This is a telltale sign of a top producing agent.)
Here’s what you’re looking for: The more an agent invests into his or her own success, office, and systems the more he/she will be able to commit to you.
Question #4: Can You Give Me A List Of Client References To Call?
An agent who doesn’t accumulate a list of satisfied references either doesn’t do much business, or isn’t providing the kind of service or follow-through you need. References don’t always need to be past clients. Ask for the names of their past three clients they have served. Then YES! you had better call them. Don't get into the transaction and look back; it's easier now rather than later. Get professional references as well: bankers, mortgage lenders, appraisers, attorneys, etc.
Question #5: Do You Have A Marketing Plan For Selling Homes?
This question applies more to sellers than buyers. Your agent’s marketing plan needs to be extensive – not just holding open houses, entering your home on MLS or running classified ads. The key to selling a home is CONSISTENCY. Your home must be consistently marketed to those people capable of buying. This cannot be accomplished if an agent doesn’t have a diversified arsenal of marketing strategies. Look for special ideas, consistency and persistence in his or her marketing plan.
Question #6: What Systems Do You Have For Tracking The Home Market (Buyers)/ or Tracking My Home Listing (Sellers) On A Regular Basis?
This is a very important question. If you’re a buyer, you want to know his or her competence in understanding values of certain areas. They also need systems to keep you continually up-to-date with opportunities in the market. You want them to have more than “access to Multiple Listing Service.” If you’re a seller, you want to price your home correctly and be regularly updated with important buyer activity. How many calls did you get on your home this week? What marketing strategies did you use? How many home visits from other agents did you have (and what were their comments)? How many people visited your open house?
If an agent does not have specific systems for measuring and reporting these items, perhaps you should consider someone else.
Question #7: Can You Refer Me To A Reputable Mortgage Lender, Appraiser or Real Estate Lawyer?
This question reveals how active the agent is and how well connected they are professionally. At some point in the buying or selling process, you will need the services of a reputable, competent lender, appraiser, title company, etc. If your agent is active, committed, and diligent with their practice, he or she will be able to give you a few names of each right on the spot.
Question #8: What Percentage Of Your Business Comes By Referral?
Here’s the “$64,000 question!” Competent, well-known agents get a large part of their business from satisfied past clients and members of their sphere of influence. If an agent gets less than 25% of new business through referrals, it may be because: 1) The quality of service they offer is not up to standard (hence, people don’t feel compelled to refer to them after a transaction); 2) They lack the marketing experience or skills required to market for referrals (which means they may not bring strong skills to your transaction); or 3) They don’t cultivate contacts in their business (which means they won’t have many people to speak with about your home).
Clearly, the best way past clients show their gratitude for outstanding service is by referring their family, friends and associates.
Question #9: How Many People Do You Speak With Each Day About Real Estate?
This question will tell you how connected an agent is, and how active they’ll “talk-up” your home to buyers, or find a home for you by talking to other agents. Hopefully, your agent talks to at least 40 people a day about real estate. If not, they may not be very active.
Question #10: Do You Personally Spend Money Advertising Your Services Or Homes For Sale?
This question pertains more to listings, but it’s also a question a buyer should ask to determine an agent’s commitment to invest in the successful outcome of their client. There are two situations to identify here:
1) Agents who are very busy and who produce a lot of income for their broker will frequently receive advertising allowances from their broker. If your agent receives allowances, that’s generally a good sign.
Question #11: Will You Personally Handle Contract Negotiations For Us?
Surprisingly, many agents simply submit or receive offers, and act as a conduit between you and the buyer (or seller). That’s not good enough. You want an agent who has reasonable negotiation skills. You want an agent who’s committed to your interests. They’ll need to represent you to other agents and buyers/sellers. It’s a good idea to follow-up the above question by investigating specifically HOW their negotiation skills saved other clients money, hassles, or help a deal come together.
There Are “Real Estate Agents”…And Then There Are Committed Professionals. Which One Do YOU Want Representing Your Interests?
The answers to the above questions should give you a good feel for the commitment and competency of the real estate agent you’re thinking about using. Remember, all agents are not the same!
Over the past ten years, I have recognized this fact, which is why I wrote this special report and structured my practice to give the most competent service possible. There’s a difference between agents who simply sell real estate, and those who COMMIT to whatever it takes to serve clients beyond their expectations. I’ve been in real estate over 11 years. But more importantly, I’ve closed over $60 million in home sales. I am a full-time REALTOR®. I have a college education and a complete resume for your review. This may appear to be bragging, but it's to show you that more than likely there won't be a situation I have not faced maybe 50 to 75 times before. I have experience and I know how to act in any given situation to safeguard you from the financial bumps in real estate.
I also make it a priority to educate you on every aspect of buying or selling a home. I have a long list of past clients and professional references you can call at any time to discuss the quality of my service and follow-up. I have an unprecedented (and EXCLUSIVE!) multi-step marketing plan that is unequalled by anyone in the industry. I have specifically designed marketing tracking systems for buying markets, and for homes I list and sell. And I have a reporting system so that every client is regularly updated and informed.
I feel certain you will be completely satisfied with the services I provide. I also have references for reputable people in mortgage lending, appraisals, title companies, tax specialists and attorneys. These are people I have used in other transactions.
Each day, I speak with at least 50 people directly related to buying or selling real estate. And I receive over 90% of my new clients through referrals and repeat business. My personal marketing involves such outstanding and continued service to my existing clients and personal network that they’re inclined to share my services with family and friends.