The Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent Before Hiring
The process of buying or selling a home can be overwhelming. Doing so is one of the largest financial transactions of your life and it can be difficult to navigate the market without the help of a professional. Due to the complications that are involved with buying or selling a home, it’s always a good idea to find a real estate agent that you can trust and that you feel comfortable working with. Unfortunately, that isn’t always easy. To help you weed through your options, here are the top 10 questions to ask your real estate agent before hiring.
1. How Much Experience Do You Have as a Realtor?
Many people begin their search for realtors by looking for agents who have been in the business for decades. However, time is not always the best testament for experience. While you want a seasoned real estate agent that has a strong network of professionals, you should also look at how many homes they help close each year. On average, real estate agents close about 12 homes per year, so numbers that are below this could indicate a lack of experience or success as an agent. Higher closing rates indicate more successful realtors, with some closing up to 35 homes per year. In terms of time spent in the industry, working with real estate agents who have been full-time for at least four years is recommended.
You’ll also want to know whether or not your agent works full-time or part-time. Those that work full-time are going to be more devoted to your overall experience in the home buying or selling process and likely have better, more substantiated, experience under their belts. Part-time real estate agents may have too much on their plate to give you their full, undivided attention.
Finally, include location in your experience questions. While a real estate agent may have been working full-time for 10 years, if they’ve just moved to another state, they may not have the specialized experience of your desired location.
2. Are You Independent or Do You Work with a Team?
Real estate agents that work with a team are preferred as it means that details are less likely to be overlooked and your agent won’t be continually tied up with paperwork or administrative duties. This gives you more time to work together to buy or sell your home. Realtors that work with a team tend to be more accessible and have stronger communication with their clients. To confirm this, you should also inquire about their overall availability.
Make sure that you feel that you’ll be properly cared for prior to signing any contracts and fully understand who your point of contact will be.
3. Do You Work with Buyers, Sellers, or Both?
While many seasoned real estate agents work with both buyers and sellers, some specialize on one end. Make sure that you know this detail before moving forward. If you end up working with a realtor who only sells homes, you’ll need to find someone else to purchase your new home. Luckily, most real estate agents work with both, as it allows them to simultaneously match buyers with sellers that they’re working with. This streamlines the process for everyone and makes the commission aspect of the transaction more simplified.
4. What Sets You Apart from Other Real Estate Agents?
Searching for the right real estate agent can become redundant, so it’s important to ask each prospect what they bring to the table. Don’t be afraid to ask your realtor what sets them apart from other agents. Ask for information on referrals and always check to see what their credentials are. There are a lot of different certifications in the real estate industry. Some of these credentials include membership in the National Association of Realtors (Realtor®), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®), Accredited Seller Representative (SRS), Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®), and more.
5. How Do You Get Paid?
Understanding how your real estate agent will get paid is more important when you’re selling a home, as the commission tends to depend on the final sale price. On average, realtors charge about 6% commission, which is due at closing. If there are two different real estate agents involved in the process, this number is split between them both. However, commission is not something that’s set-in stone—it often varies and is dependent on circumstances of the transaction. Make sure that you’re open about commission ahead of time so that you avoid any surprises. You should also avoid trying to cut corners and hire an agent with the lowest fees, as this can result in poor service and even reduce your overall net amount.
6. What’s Your Marketing Plan?
Knowing how your real estate agent is going to market your home will make you feel more secure in the selling process. Experienced agents tend to come prepared with a plan already in place, so they should be able to answer this question easily. Some good marketing plans include having professional photographers come in to take pictures of your home, putting up a virtual tour online, and making sure that your home is up on all of the popular listing websites. Other marketing strategies include direct mail campaigns, email marketing, and utilizing social media platforms to increase overall visibility. If you plan to host open houses, make sure that you know what the details are and how your agent plans to handle them safely and efficiently.
7. How Can You Help Me Sell or Buy a Home in a Competitive Market?
The market is hot right now and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. To make sure that you’re able to find the home of your dreams or sell your existing one for the maximum listing price, ask prospective realtors about their strategy. Discuss the current state of the market in your area including how many offers sellers are getting, whether or not people are putting up cash offers, and how fast listings usually last on the market. When there are multiple offers, cash offers, and near immediate selling turnover, the market is competitive. This means you will need a real estate agent that can help you get ahead of the competition and negotiate appropriately. Ask them how they plan to do this and what their sale-to-list ratio is.
8. How Do You Determine Listing Price?
It’s not uncommon for homes to be overvalued when they’re on the market. Try not to focus on the listing prices directly, but instead ask your real estate agent why the price is listed at that. This will help you get insight as to what the local market data is and whether or not a home is listed too far above market value. You want to find a realtor who uses a competitive pricing strategy to avoid overpaying for a home you’re buying and not getting the appropriate amount for a home you’re selling.
9. How Are Home Prices Being Impacted Right Now?
Real estate is a volatile market. Things can change rapidly and without any notice, especially when the market is hot. Discuss this with your real estate agent alongside anything else that’s happening in the community that could impact home prices. Sometimes, new constructions or developments can inflate or deflate home prices based on the perceived value that they will add to a neighborhood. Stay current with this information to better understand your options.
10. What’s Your Communication Style?
Before you finalize your real estate agent, make sure that you understand how he or she communicates. If you’re someone who prefers calls, but your real estate agent is a strict texter, you’re going to get frustrated fast. Make sure that you find someone who is on the same page as you in terms of effective communication. Before working together, you should agree on what your primary method of communication will be so that you can begin the relationship on the right foot.
When you’re looking for a real estate agent who is going to put your needs first and give you the best service possible, First Star Realty is here. Our philosophy is simple: clients come first. We pledge to be in constant communication with our clients to keep them fully informed throughout the entire buying or selling process. We believe that if you don’t have an amazing experience with our realty services, we haven’t done our job. If you’re ready to buy or sell a home in Northwest Arkansas, contact First Star Realty. Our highly seasoned real estate professionals are dedicated to providing exceptional, personalized service to all of our clients. Call us at 479-267-1600 or fill out a contact form today.