7 Questions to Ask When Interviewing A Real Estate Agent
Regardless of whether you are ready to buy a home or sell a home, there are specific questions you should ask a real estate agent before hiring them. After all, you want an agent who will make the buying or selling process smooth, beneficial for your wallet, and as stress-free as possible. To have a great experience, you first need to find the perfect real estate agent. This is why the elite team at Jim Westerfield Real Estate in Southwest Florida compiled a list of the top 7 questions you should ask every potential real estate agent. Let’s get started!
1. What neighborhoods do you specialize in?
Just like doctors, real estate agents usually specialize in certain neighborhoods. You want an agent who knows the areas you want to buy (or sell in) inside and out.
Pro Tip: Confirm your potential agent knows what they’re talking about by asking them to give you some key information about the neighborhood, like safety, schools, public transportation, and general home prices in the area.
2. What does communication mean to you?
Asking your potential agent what communication means to them will give you an idea of how they view communication and what you can expect from them. For example, do they say things like, “Communication means responding to emails within 24 hours and time-sensitive texts within 3-5 hours during the day.” Or do they give a generic answer like, “I’m a great communicator!” Of course, everyone likes to think they are an effective communicator – you want someone who actually is!
Pro Tip: Ask a follow-up question about how the agent likes to stay in touch – phone, email, or text. Ensure their preferred method of communication will work well for you. Also, confirm beforehand how often you’d like to hear from them (once a day, once a week, etc.). In a fast-moving market, you want an agent to touch base with you daily, so you don’t miss out on buying a potential home or selling your home.
3. How long have you worked as a real estate agent?
You want an agent who knows what they’re talking about and will make the process of buying or selling your home easy. Someone with less experience isn’t necessarily a wrong choice (we all have to start somewhere). However, building the knowledge and connections to be a truly effective real estate agent takes years.
Pro Tip: Look for someone who hasn’t just been a real estate agent for years but someone who has worked as an agent in your specific area of interest for years.
4. How many clients do you work with at a time?
This question will give you a solid understanding of how much time an agent will dedicate to each client. If an agent takes on 20 clients at a time, you know there isn’t going to be very much time in the day for you. However, an agent with no clients isn’t necessarily a good thing either. A good sweet spot for an experienced agent is no more than ten clients at a time.
Pro Tip: Ask the following follow-up question: “How many clients are you currently working with?” Given their current workload, this will give you an idea of how much special attention you will receive from this agent.
5. What Are the Terms of Your Contract?
Working with an agent means signing a contract. Naturally, you want to know exactly what you’re signing before you scrawl your name down on the line. While agent contracts are more common when selling a home, there are also buyer’s contracts.
The contracts ensure that if an agent invests the time scanning the market for you, scheduling walk-throughs, negotiating on your behalf, and helping you navigate the process, you won’t then complete the deal with, say, a random great-nephew of yours who just got their real estate license. Basically, no one wants to get screwed over!
When selling a home, you will typically sign a document agreeing that the agent will handle the sale. Once signed, you are usually locked into working with them unless they agree to release you.
Pro Tip: Look at how long the listing agreement will last (typical agreements are 3-6 months). It is better to look for shorter contracts so you don’t feel trapped if you end up disliking your agent’s services.
6. How many transactions did you close last year?
While knowing how many clients an agent worked with is good, that doesn’t tell you how successful they are at closing deals. The number of sales closed is the number to gauge success. This gives you a good idea of an agent’s success rate and the number of transactions they handle.
Pro Tip: According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a real estate agent’s average number of residential transactions was 12 per year in 2021. Remember that a transaction counts as either helping a buyer or helping a seller. If you’re interviewing an agent hitting well below that number, it may mean they aren’t successfully closing deals. On the other hand, if their number is much higher, it may mean you won’t get as much attention as you would with another less busy agent.
7. What fees do you charge?
Before you fall in love with your agent and sign on the dotted line, discuss money. What are you liable for? How does it change hands? Real estate agents usually work on commission, which means they only get paid when they close a deal (an incentive for them to work hard for you). So what you’ll pay and when you’ll pay depends on whether you’re the seller or buyer.
If you’re the buyer, the seller usually pays the commission fees to both their agent and yours. However, you will cover both parties’ agent’s costs if you’re the seller. The fees are typically deducted from the proceeds of your home’s sale.
Most agents’ commission is 5-6% of the home’s sale price. The seller and the buyer’s agent will evenly split the fee. So a $200,000 home would yield a $10,000 to $12,000 commission.
Pro Tip: Ensure you know who is paying whose fees before you enter into a deal! You don’t want to discover that the seller refuses to pay your agent’s fee, and now you’re stuck footing the bill.
Final Piece of Advice
We recommend interviewing at least three agents before deciding who to go with. Each agent you talk to will have different connections, areas of expertise, and different personalities. See who best meets your needs and makes you feel most at ease.
If you’re looking for a team of honest, experienced agents with a proven record of client satisfaction, look no further than Jim Westerfield’s team. We’ve been helping people buy and sell homes in Southwest Florida for years. So call us today and learn how we can help you.
See what we are selling on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep updated on the latest and greatest in luxury living!