It doesn’t matter what you’re entering the housing market for, be it buying or selling, hiring a realtor is the most important step. Your agent is going to be your go-to person if you have any questions along the way! If you’re buying, they’ll present you with houses that meet your needs, and if you’re selling, they’ll market your property to reach the largest pool of buyers, they’ll negotiate on your behalf, and so much more.
There are a lot of questions you’ll want to ask the real estate agent when you’re interviewing them on the phone, but here are the top 5 questions you should ask first.
1. “How long have you been an agent?”
As with any other profession, the longer you’re in it, the more knowledgeable you’ll be and that’s particularly true when you’re trying to find a top-rated real estate agent to work with. It’s true that not all agents who have been in the business for a long time are going to be the ones you’d like to work with – sometimes they are too busy to dedicate a lot of time to you.
Also, if the agent is still relatively new to the profession, they may not know everything about the business, but they’re likely to work harder to make sure you’re a happy client. A happy client means referrals and more business!
2. “Can you share your listing price vs. sales price ratio?”
If you’re selling your house, this is an excellent question to ask because you want an agent who has a record of selling houses at or above the listing price – never below! On the buyer’s side, you’ll want the ratio to be reversed, meaning they were able to negotiate the price of the home lower than asking, thus saving their clients money.
Note: You can always use a home affordability calculator to get an idea of how much house you can buy with your budget. If you find a house that you love but it’s slightly above what you can afford, a top-rated agent may be able to negotiate the price in your favor.
3. “Do you have any previous clients I can contact?”
Part of interviewing an agent is asking if the agent had any references or testimonials you could look at – speaking to a previous client is even better! The point of asking for testimonials or references that you could reach out to is so that you can get a real client’s insight about their experience with that particular agent.
4. “How do you plan on marketing my property?”
COVID has made showing houses more challenging because of the social distancing orders. Agents had to adopt new techniques to market houses. They’d use video conferencing, virtual open houses, and 3D tours. When you’re interviewing the agents, ask them what tools they plan on using to show off your digs. You’ll also want to ask them how often they’ll market your home. The more exposure your property gets, the faster it’s likely to be sold.
5. “Do I have time to review documents before signing them?”
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, buying or selling, you’re going to have to go over a lot of documents and you don’t want to put your John Hancock on anything you didn’t read or understand in its entirety. You should ask the agent how long do you have to review and sign documents. If the agent doesn’t give you a straight answer or if they aren’t willing to let you take the documents home to review, steer clear!
Hiring a top-rated real estate agent should be your top priority
Hiring a top-rated real estate agent is the most important step in your real estate adventure, so you want to make sure that you’re working with the best fit for you. Interviewing a realtor on the phone is a great starting point and if you feel like the interview went well, ask to meet in person. An in-person meeting will help you gauge how well your personalities mesh and it’s easier to get a sense if the agent is trustworthy for such a huge investment. Always trust your gut because it will never steer you wrong.