When it comes time to buy or sell a property, I always recommend interviewing a few prospective Realtors before just settling on the first one that comes through the door. Contrary to popular belief, WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME. Every Realtor has a different set of skills so it is best to pick the one who has the skills that matter most to YOU. Treat it like you are a company hiring someone for a job. You are going to pay them a good amount of money to get the job done and you want to know that they will be the right person to get the job done. Don’t just settle, keep interviewing until you find the right one.
It Starts With You…
Before you get started, you need to be honest with yourself. The process begins by asking yourself some important questions.
- What is your goal for this transaction? (If it is a BUY it may be to find an expert who can help you weigh all the options and come up with a decision that makes the most sense to your situation whereas with a SELL you probably just want to get the most money)
- What are my strengths with this transaction? (If you are an interior designer for example, you are probably going to stage the house better than most real estate agents).
- How much work do I want to do myself? (Selling a house isn’t rocket science, but there are a lot of steps involved to get highest possible price. If you are willing to take some of those on yourself then you shouldn’t pay someone to do them)
- What is my timeline? (What is the deadline where you want to have this process completed?)
- What does a successful experience look like to you? (The more you understand WHAT YOU WANT, the easier it will be to find it)
Finding A Buyer’s Agent
Looking for a buyer’s agent and a seller’s agent are completely different. Most top agents don’t even want to deal with buyers and just end up handing them off to people in their team. I remember the first time I researched for an agent when I bought my place, I found one that I thought knew the market well so I set up an interview. At the interview he just passed me off to one of his people and to say the least it wasn’t a very pleasant experience and they never ended up finding me what I was looking for and I ended up having to fire them.
Here are some questions I recommend asking when interviewing a buyer’s agent:
- Will you be doing the showings yourself? (When buying a condo it is best to see the properties with someone who knows the market, not just their assistant)
- How is the market? (I think this is a great indicator to see how knowledgeable they can speak to what is currently going on)
- Once we have established my price and budget, how long do you think it will take to find the type of property that I am looking for?
- What areas do you focus on, or what is your area of expertise? (There are thousands of agents that try to do everything, some agents know specific areas, and others who may specialize on a type of property (for example me and condos))
- Have you ever bought a property of your own? (I always learn the most when I buy my own properties and I think it is important that all Realtors go through this before using other’s money to transact)
- What makes you different than all the other real estate agents?
- Do I have to sign an agreement before seeing how you work? (I personally don’t sign agreements with anyone until we have had a few chances to go out and see if it is a good fit. Never sign a contract until you know what you are getting)
- What experience outside of real estate do they have that may be relevant to the transaction?
- Do you have any industry designations? (Some of the most common ones on the buying side are ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) and CNE (Certified Negotiation Expert))
- What do you do to keep your skills and market knowledge up to date?
- Do you have any references?
- How many buyers do you work with at a time? (if they have too many on the go, you may not get the level of service you need)
Finding a Seller’s Agent
Selling properties requires a completely different skill set than a buyer’s agent. With buying property, market knowledge is probably the MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR, but when it comes to selling, MARKETING IS MOST IMPORTANT. Because you have so much more to lose on the sales side, it is so important to find a real estate agent who knows what they are doing and is going to get you the most money for the property.
Unfortunately when it comes to listing a home, too many sellers get hung up on the commission number or the list price but don’t find out exactly what those numbers mean. Every agent is going to offer different “add-ons” to the standard MLS listing, so it is important to determine what matters most for your property. If you are in a hot area, your home has already been updated by an interior designer then why hire an agent charging you full commission that does staging if you don’t need it. At least get a discount or find someone who can bring different value to the listing.
Here are some questions you can ask to a realtor you are interviewing to sell your home:
- Who do you feel is going to be the buyer for my property? (ie. age, financial status, sometimes even ethnic background due to proximity to a religious center, etc.)
- How are you going to reach them?
- How much do you typically spend on each listing?
- Do I have to reimburse you for those expenses if my property doesn’t sell or I change my mind and no longer want to sell?
- What do you spend money on in terms of marketing the property?
- Where will my home appear online? (Everyone has a Facebook and Instagram account these days, but will they be running targetted campaigns, submitting the listing to sites which wouldn’t normally show your property, etc.)
- What is your experience with marketing online outside of real estate?
- How big is your social following and do you get a lot of engagement? (Sadly some people buy followers so number of followers isn’t always a good indicator, but look close if people are interacting with their content)
- How long do you think it will take to sell my property?
- What do you offer that other Realtors do not offer?
- What is your minimum listing term and how long will I be contracted to sell my property with you?
- What do you know about our area?
- Do you offer a discount if I buy my next property through you also?
At the end of the day, you should be comfortable with whoever you chose to help you buy or sell real estate, so don’t be afraid to interview a few people until you find a good fit. They should really listen to you and their goals should align with your goals so it is not just a one of transaction, but you are finding a Realtor who can help you for years to come.