There are approximately 2 million active real estate licensees in the country, and your goal is to select the best person who is knowledgeable, trustworthy and will diligently serve you in your real estate transaction. What are the most important questions to ask a Realtor before hiring them?
There are many knowledgable and passionate Realtors that will serve you well. The hone their craft and can bring valuable real estate expertise to the table. The key for you is to recognize these industry experts from their undesirable counterparts who can waste a lot of your money and time and potentially lead you down the wrong path.
Like attorneys, doctors, plumbers or electricians, hiring the wrong agent could cost you dearly. With such an expensive ticket item and your financial well being on the line this is an important selection. You need significantly more than a nice person or a warm smile to guide you through a successful home purchase or sale. A skilled agent will be your guide from start to finish, understand the nuances of the neighborhood, analyze market conditions, negotiate and protect you in difficult situations.
Realtors and Real Estate Agents
First, lets clarify the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. An agent is licensed to sell real estate while the term Realtor is a trademark designation given to members of the National Association of Realtors. Many agents are Realtors which allows them access to the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The designation of Realtor alone is still a minimal threshold in qualifying an industry expert that will best serve and protect your interest.
Local Open Houses
A good place to start interviewing real estate agents is at open houses. Here you get to visit with an agent, in the local neighborhood you’re looking to buy or sell, prior to engaging in a committed relationship. As an attendee you have an opportunity to observe their real estate skills and expertise by asking pertinent questions and watching them interact with other attendees.
Online Ratings and Reputation
Once you’ve zoned in on a few potential agents research their online reputation. Reviews are a fantastic place to start but you can go further. Follow them on LinkedIn or Twitter to see how they market their listings and discuss real estate topics with others. Do they blog or have a YouTube channel? How often do they share their real estate expertise, and does it seem authentic? This can give you valuable insight into their personality, community involvement and local market knowledge.
Now you’re ready to get started interviewing real estate agents. These 5 Questions to ask before hiring a Realtor are the most insightful to effectively gauge the character of the individual and their real estate expertise.
1. Can you tell me about the neighborhood?
You want to know about external factors that may have a negative impact on the real estate you’re buying or selling. The Realtor should be able to identify railroad tracks, power lines, landfills or factories nearby that would put out undesirable odors or noises and explain their impact on the value of a property. This question helps qualify their real estate expertise in this neighborhood. This question works even if you’re the seller. You will want the agent to effectively describe any external obsolescence that would affect the value or marketability of your home. Does your home back up to a commercial development or does airplane noise impact your neighborhood? How will the agent over come this negative factor when listing your home?
2. What sets you apart from other Realtors?
A Realtor’s critical strength involving negotiation, valuation, technology or mediation will certainly benefit you as a seller or buyer. This question provides an opportunity for the agent to establish credibility and share their background, personality traits and character that lends itself to their real estate expertise. Maybe a flat fee structure or business model with buyer rebates can save you money and provides an incentive to sign up with them.
3. Can you provide a neighborhood market analysis?
A Comparative Market Analysis can help you realize an agent’s actual or lack of real estate expertise. Their selection of comparable properties, boundaries and market trends can be quite revealing as to their understanding of the market. You can do this even as a buyer. When interviewing Realtors, ask them for a neighborhood market analysis on a potential neighborhood you’re interested in. Having multiple CMA’s of your choice neighborhood to compare should make clear the local expert Realtor.
4. How many clients are you currently representing?
Some agents may work in teams and can handle more clients than others that work alone, however this helps you realize upfront just how much personalized attention you will potentially receive from the agent you are interviewing. Depending on your preferences a slower agent who will focus on your needs may be a better fit than someone with a significantly higher number of buyers or sellers they are currently working with.
5. What are the drawbacks of the home?
In all fairness, if you’re a potential buyer at an open house you may not get much of a response since, you’re not an actual client yet. For sellers however, this can provide solid insight into the honesty and skill set of a Realtor. Are they in tune with the market and can help point out flaws in the home that can detract from a higher value without correction prior to listing? A good Realtor will guide you to remedy factors that would turn buyers from your home.
These selective questions are the most revealing when interviewing Realtors. A rock star agent that is breezing through buyers and sellers may not serve your best interest. An agent that is responsible and studies the market with a heart to serve and protect her clients is highly valuable.
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Certified Residential Appraiser, Gynell has a diverse appraisal background covering Commercial, Residential, Rural, Complex and Luxury Properties as well as National Appraisal Review work in the secondary Market. She began her Appraisal training in Oklahoma in 2001 covering Rural and Commercial Properties. With several years as a National Review Appraiser at Fannie Mae and other big banks, Gynell has keen insight into the secondary market guidelines and requirements.