10 Tips On Interviewing Real Estate Agents

by Sundaybell on October 7, 2012

Don’t be afraid: ask real estate questions!  It’s important to know the facts before you decide to work with a real estate agent.  Here’s a top 10 list of tips and real estate questions to ask as part of the real estate agent interview process.

1. Determining which real estate agents I should interview?

First and foremost, you need to determine what real estate agents you are going to interview and how you are going to find them. There are a number of ways to determine who you are going to interview including:

  • Word-of-Mouth referrals: asking your friends and family who they recommend is a good way to get started.
  • Open houses: you could always visit an open house (or a few) on the weekend to meet some real estate agents to see how they work and to ask them questions.
  • Local advertising: real estate agents who are advertising are doing so for a reason.  They are active and are likely representing other buyers and sellers in the area.
  • Using online resources: searching the web and getting a feel for who’s out there can help.  A real estate agents website can say a lot about their business.
  • Doing an online search: there are websites can assist you with the entire process.  They can match you up with local real estate agents who can meet your needs and you can negotiate with them anonymously to ensure their offering meets your requirements before ever meeting face-to-face.
  • 2. Know who you are looking for.

    When thinking about your need for a real estate agent, it’s important to be clear with the real estate agents you are interviewing about what your needs are.  Perhaps you are a first-time homebuyer? Maybe selling your first home and also in the market to buy? Or, maybe, you are selling an investment property and you only need help on the sale end of a transaction.  Whatever the case, be sure to let your real estate prospects know if you are looking for a listing (a selling) agent, a buyer’s agent or both.

    3. Decide what type of agent you are comfortable in working with.

    In some cases, real estate agents work alone which means that they will always be the one to return your calls and answer your questions.  However, in other situations,  real estate agents work for or within a team of licensed professionals that work together to best service their clients.  These teams may have different representatives getting back to you instead of the single person you hired.  Know what you are comfortable with and ask the real estate agents you are interviewing about their specific situation.

    4. What’s a good time for you?

    Part of working with a real estate agent is having an understanding of their availability.  Most real estate agents work around the clock, however, some don’t as they have other commitments they must attend to.  While interviewing real estate agents, get an understanding of their hours, commitments and ensure they are aligned with yours. For example: if you work a night shift and you need to be able to speak with your agents at odd times of the day, this is something you should be up-front about so that there is an understanding of when you will need to be in touch.  Make sure the real estate agent you hire has the availability when you need it so that you can avoid being frustrated with an absence of returned phone-calls or communication.

    5. Be clear about your service expectations.

    When interviewing real estate agents, most of them will present a package of marketing tactics that they use to help them sell properties, or find properties if you are a homebuyer.  That said, by utilizing the internet, it’s interesting to see how other homes are being marketed and through what channels in order to help you determine what questions to ask the prospective real estate agents .  Depending on your type of property, some tools might be more relevant than others. It’s important to do your research, but it’s also just as important to listen to what the real estate agents have to say as they know your market, what potential homebuyers are looking for, and what tools will work best in your area.  In addition, being up-front about the types of tools you’d like them to use, such as open-houses, feature sheets, online advertising etc. is extremely helpful in opening up the dialogue to ensure you the agent you hire is comfortable with your requests.

    6. Do you need industry partners?

    For some, when buying a home for the first time, or selling for that matter, there are some industry partners that need to be taken into consideration.  For example: perhaps you are relocating and need assistance in finding the best moving company? Or maybe you don’t have an attorney that can fulfill the contract requirements of the home?  What about home appraisers or mortgage brokers?  Let the real estate agent you are interviewing understand where you might be looking for help.  Someone with connections in the industry might be a better option if you need good contacts.

    7. Commissions!

    It’s dreadful to think that this has to be part of the interview process.  But the reality is, it’s your money and you need to know that the real estate agent you eventually hire can fulfill your needs as a homebuyer or home seller and your commission requirements.  Be up-front about commissions and be fair too!  If you are looking for special services, a full spectrum of marketing tools and 24/7 hands on customer service, it’s only realistic that the real estate agent you will hire will likely expect a full commission rate.  However, when selling your home, in a “hot-market” for instance, all these tools might not be necessary.  When interviewing the potential real estate agent ask them their opinion on what will be necessary and what commission they are willing to work for if all the typical services aren’t necessary.  And, if you are a first-time-homebuyer, or even a second time buyer, don’t be afraid to ask about buyer’s rebates.  This is something that you should have an understanding of as well before you sign any contracts.

    8. Special Requests.

    If you have any special requests, requirements, or information that could help prospective real estate agents get a better feel for what you are looking for, don’t be afraid to ask.  This could be a wide array of items from relocation, to having or wanting a pool property, looking at properties that could have rooms for rent, wheelchair access requirements, proximity to public transit and more .  The more a real estate agent can understand about you at the beginning of the interview process, the better they will be able to service you in the long-run.

    9. Be Realistic!

    During the interview process, whether you are selling your property, or looking to buy a property, you need to remain realistic.  This comes down to budget.  What are you looking to sell your property for? How much do you think it is worth?  These days, everyone has a sense of what they think they’d like to sell their property for based on either what they see on the internet, or by simply having an understanding of what other homes in the area are selling for. Talk to the real estate agents about your expectations and have them give you their expert opinions.  After all, this is their area of expertise.  As well, if you are buying a property, ask the real estate agent about their thoughts on what your expectations should be. Be clear about the types of homes you are looking for and be up-front about your budget.  A good real estate agent should be able to advise you on areas that might work for you, or if you need to re-think your situation based on budget.

    10. Be courteous

    Like everyone else, real estate agents are hired to do a job.  They work hard on your behalf to either present you with offers on your home, or to help you find the best fit for the house you are looking to buy.  They, the real estate agents, will rely on you for information.  It’s important to be courteous with the agent you finally choose to represent you and to ensure you are providing them with the information they need in order to get the job done.  If you’ve interviewed correctly, you will have chosen the best agent for you and you should be well on your way to either selling your property, buying one or both.

    If you’d like to meet and interview real estate agents in your area, but you don’t necessarily have the time to spend visiting open houses or having agents come to your house for interviews, you should consider Sundaybell.  Sundaybell will walk you through the necessary steps, provide you with tips along the way and help you find real estate agents that match your profile, service and commission requirements.

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