Dear Claire: What Questions Should I Ask a Real Estate Agent?
How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent: Key Questions to Ask
My answer is both for buyers and for sellers. You know, most agents, and this is nationwide, typically only do six transactions a year.
As you can imagine, that is not a full-time job and, in this position and this career, it is very complicated. There’s a lot to know and things change pretty rapidly.
I would say some of the most important initial questions are:
“Do you do this for a living?”
“Is this your primary occupation?”
“How long have you been doing this?”
Of course, everyone’s got to start somewhere, but especially in this market where it’s very difficult to get things into a contract and it’s much more complicated, you’re going to want someone with good experience.
Let’s see … #2: “Can I have some personal testimonials”?
For us personally, we have a bunch of reviews online on Homelight, Zillow, and our website. They are available everywhere. I’ve even had clients in the past say, “Hey, can I talk to somebody? Would you mind passing on their contact info so I can talk to them?”
I am happy to provide you with a client’s contact information, of course, with their permission. I’m not going to be giving away people’s contact information without their permission. I’ve provided information before and it actually works out really well. It’s nice to talk to another human and know there is someone else alive who’s worked with you recently and can vouch for you.
“What does the process look like?” Mostly you’re going to find all kinds of things about the process. You’re going to want someone who understands the process specific to that area. So that means you know weird property tax information for Oregon since it’s got weird property and tax stuff. And Washington’s got reconveyance fees. There’s all kinds of things that are specific to an area so you’re going to want someone again with good experience and with knowledge that they can help you navigate all the pitfalls that you normally would have.
“What is the pre-approval process?” Usually, most agents on the buying side are going to have a lender that they recommend that you should work with and that person should be competent. Typically, I give three different lenders just because you know some people jive differently with different people as far as personality goes you know, and the pattern of speech and all of that. You should feel comfortable – that’s going to be the primary thing – you want to feel comfortable and that you can ask questions and not feel put out by the questions that you ask.
Another good one: “How many people have you helped or how many transactions have you done?” Again, most of this is going to have to do with how long they’ve been in the business and how successful they’ve been. You know, you could have somebody that’s been in business for 10 years and has done 10 transactions. That’s not very good.
And there is the one thing from a career standpoint for real estate that’s pretty cool. Because there are a lot of people that just do one or two transactions a year and maybe they do it so that their family gets more of a discount or they just like doing it on the side. I’m not knocking those people at all. But in a market that’s this difficult to navigate, ideally you’re going to want a professional that’s been in it for a long time and understands what’s going on.
I know on the buyer side and on the seller side both of those often ask, “How long is this going to take?” You’re going to want somebody that has that data for you both in the market specifically and then also for them personally. So they’re typically going to be able to give you an average days on market and average list, list price to sale price ratio and all that fun stuff on the selling side. And then on the buyer side, I actually keep track of my data so I know how many offers it usually takes to get somebody in contract or how long it typically takes them to find a home. My timeline is usually between three and six months, so it just depends on the agent and how well-versed they are and how much data they keep on themselves.
That’s it in a nutshell. These are some good simple questions to give you a clear picture of who you’re going to be working with. I’d be happy to answer any of your questions for you. I feel like I have answered them for you, but if you have any additional questions, I’m always happy to engage in the conversation and let you know anything else you might wonder about real estate. I’m always here. I hope you have a great afternoon. Talk to you soon.