Searching for a real estate agent is an essential part of the home buying or selling process. Knowing which questions to ask your real estate agent will help you find the one best suited for your personal situation. Your agent is your confidant, adviser, and advocate in the sale or purchase of your home. It is important for you to trust and feel comfortable with the person you are working with in your transaction. Before you make a decision, ask friends and family about their experiences buying a home, and then interview at least three real estate agents, asking the following questions:
- What Is Your Area of Expertise?
Some agents work exclusively with buyers. Others are experts at marketing and selling homes. These two areas require different skill sets. Choose an agent who knows his or her strengths and has chosen to specialize in one area. When buying a home, you need a shrewd negotiator who provides you with a valuable broker price opinion on the home you wish to purchase. When selling, you need someone skilled with social media marketing who will put your home in front of as many potential buyers as possible.
- How Often Do You Communicate?
One of the top complaints by home sellers about their real estate agents is a lack of communication and follow-up after their homes are listed. Some of the most experienced and successful agents juggle numerous clients at any given time. Whether choosing a buying or a selling agent, ask how often you two will communicate. If they are vague about communication, it might be an indication you could easily get lost in the shuffle of various clients and transactions.
- How Are You Paid?
Several options are available to pay for the services of a real estate agent. Some listing companies offer a-la-carte pricing based on the level of service you prefer. Some agents work for a flat fee. Some companies have established price structures for all their agents, while other companies allow agents to set their own prices. There are more choices available to you than just paying a percentage of the sales price at closing. Be sure you understand and are comfortable with how your agent is paid before you sign any agreement.
- What is the Price Range You Work Within?
This question ties in with the agent's area of expertise. If you are working with an agent who gets paid a percentage of the sales price, you can be sure he or she has already calculated how much he or she will make from your transaction. If your price range is less than that of other clients, how can you be assured you will receive the same level of attention and care? The market varies for different price ranges of homes. Some houses have a small pool of potential buyers, while others appeal to many people. You want an agent who understands all aspects of your price range and provides you with valuable insight during the negotiation process.
- Who Else Is Involved?
It is understandable that the best agents are in high demand and have numerous clients. Some agents may be a mentor to newer agents, while others may have several assistants. Find out specifically which aspects of your transaction will be delegated to someone else, and ask to meet that person. An agent who makes client service a top priority will most likely initiate these introductions without being asked, but by asking about this matter up front, you prevent any confusion and frustration as your transaction progresses.
While these questions to ask your real estate agent provide a solid outline for interviewing potential agents, you ultimately need to trust your own instinct. Choose a real estate agent who is a good fit for your personality. You want someone who respects you and will give you an honest opinion, even if it isn't what you want to hear. The right agent will keep you grounded and help make this business transaction easier.