How to Interview a Real Estate Agent

How to Interview a Real Estate Agent

2014 is a big year of transition for me and the husband. A lot of change is ahead and to top it all off, we’re looking to sell our downtown San Diego condo and upsize to some more space both indoors and out. Selling and / or buying a home is a huge undertaking that can come with a lot of confusion and questions. We recently ventured down the path of finding a realtor we work well with and had our list of questions armed and ready as we powered through some interviews. If you’re in the market for a real estate agent, below are some questions to have on hand when finding your best fit:

  • What experience do you have / How long have you been in business?

It’s important to know how long your agent has been in business, whether this is a full or part-time job and if they specialize in your neighborhood or area of town (depending on the size of the area you live in). Ask about average length of time the agent’s homes sit on the market, their list-price-to-selling-price ratio and types of properties the agent has experience with.

  • How will you keep me updated?

Communication is a key factor in any successful relationship. Understand the frequency and form of updates you’ll receive. Indicate the level of information you expect in terms of buyer interest, new property listings, open house feedback and more.

  • What are the drawbacks of my home?

Your agent is there to give you honest feedback in order to set appropriate expectations for the home buying / selling process. If you’re selling, your agent should be able to identify any items that may be an issue and affect the value of the home.

  • What is your strategy?

Whether it’s a for sale sign on your front lawn, a direct mail campaign, or open houses and online marketing – make sure you’re aware of what each agent’s strategy would be before signing on – and more importantly, that you’re comfortable with it. For buying – it’s important to know what type of competing buyers are in your market, how the agent will assist in searching for a new home, how they’ll handle multiple offers, and the level of activity in terms of driving to homes or just sending you listings via e-mail.

  • Do you work alone or with a team?

Understand if your agent handles all details solo or if they leverage a team environment to ensure efficiency. If a team environment is the case, find out what areas your agent specializes in and who you may be working with aside from them and in what capacity.

  • How many clients are you currently representing?

This will help you to gauge how much of your agent’s time you may receive. Are they spread too thin or perhaps not representing many clients at all? This one will be a personal preference as to what matters most to you – time or experience (preferably, a healthy blend of both).

  • Can I see your references?

Typically you can find these on Yelp these days. If not, ask for at least 3 references from satisfied clients. When screening references, be sure to ask about accessibility, personality, professionalism, communication and satisfaction with the agent.

  • How much do you charge?

Most real estate fees are negotiable. Agents will typically charge a percentage averaging 2-4% on each side of the transaction. Percentages vary by agent, but commissions tend to be around 6%. Check out what’s average for your area before going into talks. Make sure you understand the agent’s cancellation policy and any other fees involved with the sell or purchase of a home.

  • What should I ask that I haven’t?

Ensure your agent takes the time to educate you and make you feel comfortable. This isn’t a decision or relationship you want to rush in to. Note the agent’s observations about your home, their effort to explain key terms and refrain from using industry lingo and their genuine interest in helping you reach your goals.

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