10 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Real Estate Agent
""It's critical that you make the right decision about
who will handle what is probably the single largest financial investment you
will ever make.""Not all real estate agents are the same. If you decide to
seek the help of an agent when selling or buying your home, you need some good
information before you make any moves.
An agent can cost or save you thousands of dollars
Picking an agent is one of those critical issues that can cost
or save you thousands of dollars. There are very specific questions you should
be asking to ensure that you get the best representation for your needs. Some
agents may prefer that you don't ask these questions, since the knowledge
you'll gain from their honest answers will give you a very good idea about
what outcome you can expect from using them as an agent. And let's face it - in real
estate, as in life - not all things are created equal. Hiring a real estate agent is just like any hiring process -
with you on the boss's side of the desk. It's critical that you make the
right decision about who will handle what since this is probably the single largest
financial investment you will ever make.
1.What makes you different? Why should I list my home with you?
It's a much tougher real estate market than it was a decade
ago. What unique marketing plans and programs does this agent have in place to
make sure that your home stands out favorably versus other competing homes? What
things does this agent offer you that others don't to help you sell your home
in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle and for the most
amount of money?
2. What is your company's track record and reputation in the
It may seem like everywhere you look, real estate agents are
boasting about being #1 for this or that, or quoting you the number of homes
they've sold. If you're like many homeowners, you've probably become
immune to much of this information. After all, you ask, ""Why should I care
about how many homes one agent sold over another. The only thing I care about is
whether they can sell my home quickly for the most amount of money."" Well, because you want your home sold fast and for top
dollar, you should be asking the agents you interview how many homes they have
sold. I'm sure you will agree that success in real estate is selling homes. If
one agent is selling a lot of homes where another is selling only a handful, ask
yourself why this might be? What things are these two agents doing differently? You may be surprised to know that many agents sell fewer than 10
homes a year. This volume makes it difficult for them to do full impact
marketing on your home, because they can't raise the money it takes to afford
the advertising and special programs to give your home a high profile. Also, at
this low level, they probably can't afford to hire an assistant, which means
that they're running around trying to do all the components of the job
themselves. Bottom line, their service to you may suffer.
3. What are your marketing plans for my home?
How much money does this agent spend in advertising the homes
s/he lists versus the other agents you are interviewing? In what media
(newspaper, magazine, TV etc.) does this agent advertise? What does s/he know
about the effectiveness of one medium over the other?
4. What has your company sold in my area?
Agents should bring you a complete listing of both their own,
and other comparable sales in your area.
5. Does your Broker control your advertising or do you?
If your agent is not in control of their own advertising, then
your home will be competing for advertising space not only with this agent's
other listings, but also with the listings of every other agent in the
6. On average, when your listings sell, how close is the
selling price to the asking price?
This information is available from the Real Estate Board. Is
this agent's performance higher or lower than the board average? Their
performance on this measurement will help you predict how high a price you will
get for the sale of your home.
7. On average, how long does it take for your listings to sell?
This information is also available from the Real Estate Board.
Does this agent tend to sell faster or slower than the board average? Their
performance on this measurement will help you predict how long your home will be
on the market before it sells.
8. How many Buyers are you currently working with?
Obviously, the more buyers your agent is working with, the
better your chances are of selling your home quickly. It will also impact price
because an agent with many buyers can set up an auction-like atmosphere where
many buyers bid on your home at the same time. Ask them to describe the system
they have for attracting buyers.
9. Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact?
Ask to see this list, and then proceed to spot check some of the
10. What happens if I'm not happy with the job you are doing
to get my home sold?
Can I cancel my listing contract? Be wary of agents that lock
you into a lengthy listing contract where they can get out of (by ceasing to
effectively market your home) but you can't. There are usually penalties and
broker protection periods which safeguard the agent's interests, but not
yours. How confident is your agent in the service s/he will provide you? Will
s/he allow you to cancel your contract without penalty if you're not satisfied
with the service provided? Evaluate each agent's responses to these 10 questions
carefully and objectively. Who will do the best job for you? These questions
will help you decide.
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