Seven in 10 real estate consumers work with the first real estate agent they interview, according to studies by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
I don’t know about you, but I find that statistic shocking. Whether buying or selling a home, you’re dealing with one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime.
Why wouldn’t you take the time to ensure that the person that assists you in this transaction is experienced, knowledgeable and equipped with the skills required to get you where you want to be both financially and personally?
Even more surprising, according to the NAR, sellers typically ask real estate agents only two questions before hiring them — they want to know how much their home is worth and how much they will have to pay in commissions. That’s it; they ask no further questions.
So, this month, we’ll take a look at some answers to the tough questions you should ask before trusting any real estate agent to represent you in the purchase or sale of real estate.
This is a job interview
When you interview agents to assist you in the sale or purchase of a home you are, in essence, conducting a job interview and you should approach it as such.
Be aware of how the agent presents herself (or himself, as the case may be) and his or her business.
Are listing presentation materials professionally formatted and presented? Remember, if any of the agents can’t or won’t market themselves effectively, how can they possibly market your home?
Ask the right questions
Ah, the internet – what would we do without it? Homebuyers, by and large, begin their home searches online and many sellers use the internet to size up the competition. The web also happens to be the ideal place to help you narrow your choices when it comes to choosing a real estate agent.
More than 70 percent of Americans seek online product reviews before making a purchase, according to researchers at Northwestern University.
While service reviews aren’t quite as prevalent, you can find agent reviews and testimonials from clients online. So, once you have your list of agents to interview, it’s your turn to seek out reviews.
Real estate consumer success stories, in their own words, are powerful proof of an agent’s effectiveness. You can typically find testimonials on agent websites, but the best are unsolicited by the agent and you’ll find those on yelp.com and some of the large real estate platforms.
OK, here’s question number one to ask in agent interviews: “May I have the name and telephone numbers of some past clients?” Then, don’t be afraid to call them and probe for details about the agent’s skills, strong points and work ethic.
Additional questions you should ask each agent include:
- Length of time in the industry – Even more important, or perhaps it goes hand-in-hand, is the number of “deals” the agent has participated in. The best agents have enough experience to where they can handle whatever a transaction throws their way.
- Marketing – It’s a listing agent’s primary job and therefore an important question to ask is how he or she plans on marketing your home.
The agent should have a visible and robust online presence as well as access to the many online real estate marketing platforms.
Ask to see examples of past marketing campaigns. Home descriptions should be compelling and the photos should be clear.
If a virtual or 3D tour is important to you, ask for examples that the agent has created for past clients. Finally, it takes money to effectively market a home so ensure that the agent you hire has a marketing budget to back up the plan.
- Ask the agents for their list-to-sales price ratio. This represents how close to list price the agent’s listings have sold.
Each agent should be able to tell you the average days a home remains on the market in our area so ask. Then, inquire as to how long the agent’s listings remain on the market.
Just as in any other industry, not all real estate agents are alike. To assume they are sets you up for wasted time and money.
Interview at least three agents and be prepared to ask the tough questions.