Are you thinking about hiring a real estate agent to sell your home but not sure where to start? You’re not alone. Selling a home is one of the most emotional processes you’ll undergo in your lifetime — “home is where the heart is,” as they say — so it’s crucial to have someone you trust walking alongside of you every step of the way.
If you’re considering hiring a real estate agent to represent you, make sure you ask the right questions before hiring “just anyone.” Here are 12 questions sellers should ask when choosing a realtor to represent them in the sale of their home.
- How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job? While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate — like many other professions — is mostly learned on the job.
- What designations do you hold? Designations such as GRI and CRS, which require that agents take additional, specialized real estate training, are held only by about one-quarter of real estate agents.
- How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year? By asking this question, you’ll get a good idea of how much experience the agent has.
- How many days does it take you to sell the average home? How does that compare to the overall market? The REALTOR® you interview should have these facts on hand, and be able to present market statistics from the local MLS to provide a comparison. As an example, we have many prospective clients ask us this question, and our answer is this: “On average, we sell a home 12 days faster than our town’s average, and here’s the data to back it up.”
- How close were the final sale prices of the homes you sold to the initial asking prices? This is one indication of how skilled the REALTOR® is at pricing homes and marketing to suitable buyers. Of course, other factors may also be at play, including an exceptionally hot or cool real estate market.
- What types of specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home? It’s easy for someone to throw a ‘For Sale’ sign in the yard and hope for the best — but that’s not the kind of realtor you want on your side. Instead, find someone with an innovative and aggressive approach, and who knows how to market your property competitively online. Today’s buyers want information — and they want it fast — so it’s imperative that your REALTOR® is responsive and on top of their marketing game.
- Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction? While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it’s important to understand where his or her obligations lie. Your REALTOR® should explain his or her agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party.
- Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and assist with other tasks? Because REALTORS® are immersed in the industry, they’re wonderful resources as you seek lenders, home improvement companies, and other home service providers. Real estate agents should generally recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with or receive compensation from any of the providers.
- What type of support and supervision does your brokerage provide to you? Having resources such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney, and assistance with technology can help an agent sell your home.
- What’s your business philosophy? While there’s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what’s important to the agent and determine how closely the agent’s goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.
- How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently? Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but how you judge the response will reflect your own desires. Do you want updates twice a week or do you prefer not to be bothered unless there’s a hot prospect? Do you prefer phone, e-mail, text, or an in-person visit?
- Could you provide the names and phone numbers of your three most recent clients? Ask recent clients if they would work with this REALTOR® again. Find out whether they were pleased with the communication style, follow-up, and work ethic of the REALTOR®.
So, how do you find agents to start interviewing? Your first step should involve researching agents in your local market to find accredited professionals. There are several advantages to using a local real estate agent — such as area knowledge, availability, robust network and a relationship that continues after the closing — so finding someone local may be your best bet when it comes to your selling experience.
Luckily, much of this info can be found online, or you could talk to one of our real estate agent experts.
Once you have a solid list of top agents in your area, the interview process can begin, and you’ll be well on your way to emerging with a listing agent you can trust.