How To Vet A Real Estate Agent

Everyone knows a Realtor, or 8 of them, but is just knowing and liking one enough when it comes to one of the largest financial decisions of your life? While it can be a very enjoyable, fun experience, it is very much a business decision and should be treated as such, which starts with the team you assemble to help you through this journey.  Choosing a Realtor should be as much about knowing they have the experience, knowledge, and overall competence to help you make great decisions as it is about “liking” them, which is also important.  Here are a handful of questions to help you KNOW, not guess, that who you’re working with is who you deserve.

Knowledge (How can an agent best position you in the market if they don’t know truly know where the market is?):

  • How is the market performing?
  • Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market?
  • Has the pace of home sales sped up or slowed down over the past 6-12 months?
  • What experience do you have selling homes in the area(s) that I’m looking in? Do you know the area?

Experience (Does the agent have a track record of putting buyer clients in a desirable position of saving money?):

  • How long have you been in real estate?
  • How many first time home buyers have you worked with in the past year?
  • How many buyers are you working with currently?
  • What is your personal sale-to-list price % of homes you’ve helped buyers purchase over the last year? (**This is a sales performance indicator)
  • On average, how much seller paid closing expenses have you helped the buyers you’ve worked with to get over the past 12 months? (**Another sales performance indicator)

Communication and Competence (Does the agent have the capacity to help you the way you deserve and on the same page with the single most important part of buying a home, communicating?):

  • Are you full-time or part-time?  Is real estate your only career/job?
  • Do you work independently or with a team?  Who else might I be communicating with?
  • What’s your schedule and availability?  How would I schedule homes to go see to ensure I don’t miss any opportunities?
  • What’s your preferred way of communicating?  How often will we communicate?
  • How do you determine which homes will match most, or all, of my/our wants and needs?
  • What agreements and/or contracts should I know about?  Why is a buyer agency agreement important?
  • Describe a recent challenge you had where emotions with the buying party ran high. How did you handle it? What was the end result?
  • If the other agent is handling things in a clearly emotional/heated state, how do you handle/diffuse the situation?
  • Can you provide past clients’ that would be willing to talk with me about their experience?

Some of the answers to these questions will be relative to the current market conditions, but their sales performance numbers should be compared to the local market’s numbers for a baseline, so make sure you ask for those too, and any other agents’ you might talk to. Doing your due diligence seems like overkill, especially if you know and like an agent already, but, remember, this is a business decision throughout and misaligning yourself from the start can cost you money and/or opportunities. 

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