What Questions to Ask When You Interview a Real Estate Agent
Interviewing potential candidates in order to decide which one you should use to help you sell your home is a great opportunity to both get to know the candidates, and to gauge whether they are a good fit for you and your specific needs.
What you ask agents is paramount to getting the information you need – here are some questions to add to your list before you set out finding the perfect agent for you.
How Long Have You Been in the Real Estate Business?
Almost every article you’ll find online lists this question as the first you should ask the candidates you’re considering to help you sell your home. Of course, there’s good reason for this, as experience does count for a lot in the real estate industry. Experienced agents know the market they operate in like the back of their hand, and probably have a good grasp of what fluctuations are taking place in the market at any given time. With that being said, experience is an important factor in ascertaining how likely a real estate agent is to help you get your property sold fast, but it certainly isn’t the only factor.
Perhaps a better way of getting a realistic idea of how an agent performs is to enquire about the amount of real estate transactions they’ve been party to in the past year or two. Consider the following: agent A might have been in the real estate industry for most of their professional career, but might only have sold four properties in the past year. On the other hand, agent B is new to the real estate game, but their spunk and enthusiasm has made them an agent with a track record of sales over the past year – 14 in total. Who would be the best agent to help you sell your property?
Getting an idea of the agent’s transactional volume gives you more information about the agent than just asking how long they’ve been doing this, and is a great addition to the tried-and-trusted entry question most people ask real estate agents during interviews.
What is Your Average List-Price-to-Sales-Price Ratio?
The world of real estate is rife with jargon and technical terms that the average Joe doesn’t know or understand – which is why a qualified real estate agent should be your right-hand man or woman when selling your home. One term home sellers may not be so familiar with is an agent’s so-called “average list-price-to-sales-price ratio”.
In plain terms, this ratio refers to the percentage one gets when dividing the price a home ultimately sells for by the price it is advertised for, and then multiplying that amount with 100.
If a home is, for example, listed at a price of $300,000, but eventually sells for $289,000, the list-price-to-sales-price ratio on the property will be 96.3% – $289,000 divided by $300,000, multiplied by 100.
In the case of a home that is being sold, a list-price-to-sales-price ratio that is closer to 100% is what you should listen for, whilst the opposite is true when you are looking for an agent to help you buy property.
The list-price-to-sales-price ratio gives you a lot of information about the success an agent has in the real estate market.
First off, it tells you how motivated an agent is to get the best possible price for a property. If their average list-price-to-sales-price ratio is 100% and higher, you’ll know this agent goes above and beyond in his or her attempts to sell at a good price.
It also tells you about the agent’s negotiating abilities – something that is crucial to getting the best possible price. If an agent’s list-price-to-sales-price ratio drifts too far below 100%, you might want to be wary, as this may signal problems not only with their ability to negotiate with potential buyers, but also with their network and database of potential buyers, as well as with their marketing strategy.
But an agent’s list-price-to-sales-price ratio also tells you about the state of your local property market. If candidates consistently cite list-price-to-sales-price ratios lower than 100%, it may point to a buyer’s market being at play, while list-price-to-sales-price ratios of between 100% and 110% may reveal that a seller’s market could see you making bigger financial gains than you might have expected on the sale of your property.
What is Your Best Marketing Plan or Strategy For My Needs?
How your property is marketed to potential buyers has a marked influence on how quickly it ultimately sells. If a real estate agent follows the latest real estate marketing trends, chances are that the exposure your property gets may be amplified. In this regard, potential real estate agents might mention marketing strategies focused on an online audience, utilising the services of professional property photographers, as well as using things like floor plans or online virtual tours of the property.
While a modern approach to marketing is monumental in gaining the widest exposure for a given property, you’ll want to hear that an agent uses a multi-pronged marketing strategy, including marketing online, in print media, and via other more traditional channels – word-of-mouth is not dead!
The candidates competing to help you sell your property should give you a detailed marketing plan, tailored for you specific needs and property.
Can You Provide References?
As with any interview, asking for references is part and parcel of the process. Previous employers can tell you a lot about an agent’s work ethic and overall motivation to perform.
Ask the agent if they’d mind you following up to ask the people they put up as their references some questions – and then actually follow up. Real estate agents often have the gift of the gab, which might obscure any professional flaws they could have, which is exactly why it is so important to find out how they conduct their business from people who have worked with them before.
What are the Top Three Things That Separate You From Other Real Estate Agents?
Real estate agents truly are a dime a dozen – but not all real estate agents are equal. Decide in advance which qualities you value in the person who is helping you sell your property.
Do you prefer that they are honest, trustworthy and straightforward, or would you like your agent to be someone who uses creative thinking to make your property stand out from the other properties vying for the attention from buyers? Do you prefer to do business with someone who is motivated to get the greatest financial gain (both for you and for themselves) from the sale of a property? Do you want an agent to be available to communicate at any time of the day or night, or do you want someone who sticks to standard office hours?
Most real estate agents should be able to list the three characteristics that make them a better real estate agent than the next one without breaking a sweat, but exactly what they answer will determine whether they’re a good fit for you, considering what you are expecting from the sale of your property.
Can I Review Documents Ahead of Time?
Upon deciding which agent you will be using to help you sell, you will be required to sign a sales authority with the agent and the real estate agency they work for. This document sets out the commission structure you and your agent have agreed on, as well as stipulating any additional costs associated with the sale of the property, like marketing costs. This is, in essence, the contractual agreement that gives a real estate agent permission to go ahead with the marketing and sale of your property.
The sales authority is one of the documents involved in the sale of a property, but it is by no means the only document that will pertain to your property throughout this process.
In their interviews, ask agents whether you will be allowed to review documents ahead of time. This way, you will always be up to date about the information about your property that is being disseminated to the public, and will also have a say in how this is done.
While the real estate agent certainly is the expert in this regard, it gives you a sense of ownership over the way the sale of your home is being conducted when you are allowed to have a hand in the way the process takes place. Remember to also ask for copies of important documents, like the listing agreement/sales authority, the agency disclosure and the seller disclosure.
What Do You Charge?
Of course, you’ll need to confirm what financial remuneration a real estate agent will be asking for their services. Ask about the commission structure they will be using, as well as about any additional costs involved with the sale of the property, like marketing costs.
Have the potential candidates lay out exactly what is being charged, and how it is being charged. This information will also be included in the sales authority. A real estate agent’s fees are always negotiable, but keep in mind that you always get what you pay for, and that less is not necessarily more in this case.
What Haven’t I Asked You That You Think I Should Know?
You are an amateur in the real estate realm, and there is sure to be something you should have asked the candidates you’re interviewing to become your real estate agents, but forgot to.
How agents answer the question, “What haven’t I asked that you think I should know?” tells you a lot about their “bedside manner”, or the way they interact with clients. You want an agent that takes time to explain terminology you might not be familiar with, and you want someone who enquires about your exact needs. This final question will help you to decide whether this person’s personality and way of working will tie in with the goals you’ve set out for the sale of your property.
Perfect Agent’s database is filled to the brim with excellent real estate agents in your area, just waiting to help you sell you home fast. We’ll recommend a number of agents in order to help you find that perfect fit. If you’re looking for an agent that understands you, contact Perfect Agent today.