Do you know what questions to ask when hiring a Realtor? This is something you have to consider, whether you’re getting ready to sell your home or buy a new one–or both.
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, chances are you’re going to be working with a real estate professional during the transaction. According to the National Association of Realtors, 54 percent of buyers and 64 percent of sellers use a Realtor. In most cases they worked with a real estate agent someone they knew referred. Or, they used an agent they had worked with before to sell or buy a home.
Our family has sold and bought eight homes. In fact, the number just increased to eight with our decision to help our older daughter buy her first condo.
Interview a real estate agent or broker
When it comes to interviewing the real estate agents we’ve used, I have to be honest: we often did not do a thorough job of vetting the person. Sometimes we simply defaulted to a friend’s recommendation. Probably not the smartest move.
Or, in the case of the home we bought at the Jersey Shore, we didn’t have a Realtor. So, when we found a house we liked and called about it, the seller’s real estate agent simply flipped us over to a Realtor in her office. And that person became our buyer’s agent. We never got the chance to ask her any questions before hiring her. Turns out she was an excellent Realtor anyway.
We lucked out. Don’t take any chances when you hire a Realtor, though.
What questions to ask when hiring a Realtor
Even if a Realtor comes highly recommended, it’s important that you interview that person before signing on the dotted line. In doing so it’s key to know which questions to ask. You want to make sure that this Realtor is really on the same page that you are, with regards to you home sale or purchase.
Here are six questions you should always ask when hiring a Realtor
Question 1 to Ask: Are you a Full Time Agent?
Based on my own experience and the agents I’ve worked with over the years, you don’t want to work with someone who just dabbles in real estate part time. You want someone for whom real estate is a full-time profession.
For example, when we moved to Western Pennsylvania and were buying a home, our mortgage company recommended three real estate agents for us to use. Two of them put right in their bios that they were full time teachers who did real estate on the side. The third was clearly a full-time Realtor, not educator. Can you guess which one we went with?
You want an agent with flexibility
Buying a home or selling a home is a huge financial commitment. You want to work with someone who is available to help you during business hours and on weekends. If your Realtor has another full-time job and you run into an issue, you should have to wait hours, if not days, to get it resolved.
Too many things can go wrong if a buyer or seller is working with a part-time agent. It doesn’t matter if that person happens to be a family member, co-worker, or a friend. If that person has limited availability, it’s possible they also have limited knowledge to handle the details of your transaction.
Question 2 to Ask: Will You Be Staging My House?
Used to be that you could stick a “For Sale” sign on your lawn, and a house would sell itself. But these days, nearly every potential buyer looks at homes online.
Because of that, you want one of the questions you ask when hiring a Realtor to be about staging. That’s because you want your home to look HGTV-worthy in pictures. Therefore, you want to make sure that your Realtor is going to hire a stager or walk you through staging it yourself.
Question 3 to Ask: How Will You Be Marketing My Home
Ask your Realtor what kind of marketing they plan to do. Will they be hiring a professional photographer or stager (as asked in the previous question)? How will they be getting the word out about your home? Do they plan to have any open houses?
In addition, many Realtors are using social media to market homes as well. Ask if they have a presence on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and more.
Question 4 to Ask: Have You Ever Sold a House in My Area?
General real estate knowledge and experience are important, to be sure. However, familiarity with the area where you want to buy a house or where you are selling a home is key. We learned this the hard way when we bought on of our homes during what’s called a seller’s market.
Our Realtor primarily worked with buyers in another part of the state. When we wanted to look an hour south of her comfort zone–my words, not hers–we quickly discovered her shortcomings.
Familiarity with an area is key
She was not familiar with the market or the comps during the seller’s market situation, and her advice on making an offer ended up not netting us the home we wanted. In retrospect we should have asked if she had a colleague in an office closer to where we ended up buying that we could have hired. That person may have had better knowledge of how homes were selling in the area, and maybe we wouldn’t have lost out on bidding war offers.
Question 5 to Ask: What Percentage of Your Listings Actually Sell?
Sometimes, you put a home on the market and it doesn’t sell. Or, it doesn’t sell the first time you list it.
This was the case with one of our homes in Pennsylvania. We listed it with an agent who couldn’t sell it. In retrospect, she allowed us to price it too high and didn’t push us on staging.
The next year, we hired a different Realtor and worked with a professional stager. The first weekend it was on the market we had multiple offers. In the end, the home ended up selling quickly and for over asking.
Ask about list-to-sale ratios
This is a cautionary tale in finding an agent with a higher list-to-sale ratio. That means that more of this agent’s homes are selling. It’s usually reflective of a home that’s priced correctly when it goes on the market and is properly stage.
An agent with a higher list-to-sale ratio likely has their the pulse of appropriate comparable sales in the market. That person knows what the market will bear, and prices the home to sell in current market conditions–all good qualities to look for in a real estate agent.
Question 6 to Ask: Are You a Licensed Realtor
Anyone can call themselves a real estate agent or broker. But only those that have gone through certain training and are licensed in their state can call themselves a Realtor. The National Association of Realtors controls that title of Realtor.
Here’s why you want to work with someone who is a legit Realtor: the National Association of Realtors has a certain Code of Ethics and holds its members to higher level of service. If ethics are as important to you as they are to me, the choice is easy–always work with a Realtor.