Whether you’re planning to buy or sell property this summer, you should work with a real estate agent to guide you through the process. While you may have a neighbor or cousin who works in real estate, it’s a good idea to vet potential agents to ensure the best fit for your needs, since it’s hardly a one-size-fits-all proposition. Here’s a look at questions to ask.
What locations and types of properties do you specialize in?
Neighborhood: For buyers’ and sellers’ agents, neighborhood expertise is key, because neighborhood markets can have “quirks”. For instance, country homes tend to have rules on livestock, wells, sewage systems, where residential is hooked up to city utilities. Condos and townhomes may have HOAs, and HOAs have rules, regulations and possible fees.
Ask about other types of expertise, too. If you’re a veteran or active duty military member, you may want to work with someone who has special training to understand how Veterans Affairs financing works and the challenges of frequently relocating. If you’re a first-time buyer, you may want to find someone who works with lots of first-time buyers and has the patience to do some hand-holding.
What training have you had recently? Do you have a mentor or does your company work as a team?
Most people initially want to ask, “How long have you been in the business?” although it seems valid, the more important thing you want to know is if your agent is current on Real Estate Law and Real Estate Contracts. Because there are constant legal issues that come up around the world, Real Estate Law is always changing. When someone wins, or loses a case, contracts tend to be updated to include the recent law change.
Just because an agent is new does not mean they cannot get the job done well. But, you do want to make sure that they have a mentor helping them learn the ropes or a team of helpers behind them making sure your transaction is smooth.
How will you communicate with me? What’s your availability?
Do they like to communicate via text, email or phone call. More importantly confirm the most comfortable way YOU would like to communicate.
Some agents are full-time and others are part-time. Find out what their hours are and if you will be happy with that.
What types of technology do you use for marketing and transaction management?
When listing in this day in age, your primary audience is going to be found via the internet. Is your agent as “tech savvy” as you would like them to be? Do they have the capability to market through various programs such as: Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram, LinkedIn etc.?
When coordinating your purchase or sale, sometimes you are not readily available to meet with your agent to sign a document. Nowadays you can sign digitally via email. There are all kinds of products available to agents that allow them to keep in touch with their clients digitally. You can even have meetings digitally!
This is my goal, how will you help me get there and will you keep me on track?
Both buyers and sellers have goals they would like to achieve when buying and selling. Buyers may be qualified for a large amount but want to stay in a lower price-range to avoid a high payment. Express this to your agent and make sure they understand your “whys” so they can keep you on track.
Sellers may want to make a certain amount of money from the sale of their home. Have the potential agents bring you a list of comparable homes and tell you what they think yours can sell for. If two agents have extremely different prices on your home value, you will need look at the comparable homes in detail, taking in the location, size, age and whether its updated or not. (Remember: If you overprice your home, it will sit on the market until you reduce to the correct market value.)
Ask yourself: Do I like this agent?
Questions 1 thru 5 will give you a sense of the agent’s process and personality. Ultimately you want to go with your gut. If the agent doesn’t sound confident or if they sound too slick, go on to the next interview. You will ultimately be talking with and spending a lot of time with this person, it’s a good idea to be comfortable.