20 Best Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent… and the Answers You Want to Hear
Looking to hire a real estate agent to sell your home? Play 20 Questions.
Ask these questions of real estate agents before you hire one. Compare as many agents as you need until you feel comfortable and confident with one:
1. Do you work full or part-time as a real estate agent?
Full-time agents are likely to give you (and your potential home buyers) more time and attention.
2. How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood in the past year or two?
Ideally, you want someone with a track record in your neighborhood and preferably in your price range. If you live in a town that has different property types (e.g. co-op, condo) see how much experience they have selling what you have.
The more stats and data the agent is willing to provide (houses sold, prices, average sale to list price ratio, average days on the market, etc.), the more confident they are in sharing their expertise and their ability to sell your home.
3. How many sellers are you representing now?
This can cut two ways; a busy agent may be too busy and an agent with no clients may have more time to market your home. You should try to read the situation and consider how they answer your other questions.
4. What aspects of the transaction will you personally handle and which will be delegated to others?
You want to know the extent of your agent’s work and involvement in the process. While some delegate – and that’s not necessarily bad – others are hands-on and take you through the process from beginning to end.
This question ultimately tests the agent’s knowledge of the process; marketing/advertising / signage, open houses, negotiation of price and terms, qualification of buyers, contract negotiation, title, home inspections, closing.
5. Are your fees negotiable?
Most real estate agent compensation is negotiable. There are many ways to go, from a flat fee to a traditional percentage of the sales price. Business models are continually evolving. If you are the creative type and have an idea on compensation, run it by the agent.
6. At what price do you think my house will sell in the current market? And why?
This will give you an understanding of the agent’s knowledge of the market and their thought process in pricing your home, the most important decision you’ll have to make.
An experienced Realtor will refer to the recent market data, the current pool of comparable homes on the market, and your home’s condition and amenities in giving you an answer. If they rely solely on a value based on Zillow or any computer generated home value … run!
7. Can you give me a written CMA and a list of homes currently on the market?
All agents should give you a written comparative market analysis (CMA). The detail (or lack thereof) of the report will tell you a lot about the agent and their knowledge of the market. If there are comps in there you know are crappy, play it cool and ask the agent why so-and-so’s home is comparable. Their answer will be revealing.
8. What is your advertising and marketing plan for my house?
A blend of online and offline marketing will reach a broader spectrum of buyers. Know the manner and frequency of advertising and any open houses. The issue of open houses is hotly debated by professionals, many who feel they do not produce buyers. There should at least be brokers’ open.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Getting Your Home Sold! Your 25-Point Marketing Plan
Photos: The more photos a listing has, the more attention the home will get. Ask how many will be taken and by whom. A professional photographer is preferable. There is an ongoing debate whether video is necessary for a listing to sell. A video of the home and/or neighborhood, done by a professional videographer will make your home stand out – so ask.
Ask to see sample marketing materials. All agents will list your home in the local MLS and on their website (make sure they have one) so that’s a given. You want to know what else will be done. Compare it to the marketing plan and materials of other agents.
9. How long must I list my house with you?
Most consumer experts say a three month or less listing period is preferable. In this market, that may not be enough time to evaluate the abilities of your agent but you can always renew the listing agreement. If you have the free right to cancel the listing agreement (if you are unhappy with the agent), the term is not that important.
10. How long have you been a real estate agent?
Generally an agent with at least four years’ experience shows a dedication to the profession and an ample opportunity to acquire a good sense of the market. As far as education goes, by law, agents are required to take classes to keep their license in good standing — so look for education that goes above and beyond their minimum requirements. Ask what kind of ongoing coaching they receive in-house at their brokerage.
11. Is your real estate license in good standing and have you ever been subject to a client complaint?
There are websites to check an agent’s license. Ask the agent to provide it to you.
TIP: Check the New Jersey Real Estate License Search
Enter the name or the agent and select “Actively Licensed” from the Select License Status dropdown menu. You should not need Ref Number or License Type. If you liked the agent you met with but were unable to find them, ask why, it may be an issue with the full name they are licensed under, or a Ref Number of License Type can help.
12. Can you provide me the names and phone numbers of past clients as references?
Ask if any of the references are relatives. Check out the references.
TIP: Another option is to check New Jersey Real Estate Agent Reviews on sites such as Zillow
These are often unsolicited, unbiased and show a client’s interest in sharing their experience with others… this says a lot about that experience.
13. Do you work with stagers or will you stage my home?
In this market, your house has to be dressed to sell. Home staging truly is a must. It is one thing to take a listing and market it and quite another to sell it. Ask the agent to make suggestions to improve the salability of your home – it will probably involve your kitchen and baths, the most common areas of buyer interest and generally the best home improvement return on investment (ROI).
Don’t be offended if an agent asks you to remove personal items. We know it is your home, we know these items are sentimental, but you really want prospective buyers to see themselves in your home. And your home in their future. Their future does not include the family photos you are so proud of. It is hard, but try and think like the buyer on this one.
RELATED: The Importance of Home Staging
14. How often will you communicate with me?
Ideally, your Realtor should communicate with you regularly, updating you with any new information/concerns. They must inform you of all offers. They should have email and be reachable most of the time should you have a question or concern. Ask when they are not reachable.
Another good question to ask is their preferred communication method. Everybody has one, even you. Perhaps you’ll get a quicker response via text than you will via email. It is helpful to know these things.
15. Why should I hire you over your competition?
The agent should have a ready answer. Most sellers are looking for a real estate agent who is:
– Experienced in the local market
– Excellent negotiators
– Readily available by phone or e-mail
– Good communicators
– Quick to return calls or emails
– Successful in getting results
16. May I see the documents I will have to sign?
These should include, of course, the listing agreement and sales contract. If the listing agreement does not have a cancellation clause, ask if you can cancel if you are unhappy with the services. Again, if you have the free right to cancel, the length of the listing agreement does not matter much. Read all documents and ask questions if you don’t understand anything. There are several types of listing agreements. Like any legal document, you can run it by an attorney.
17. What will be my closing costs?
A feel for closing costs helps sellers understand the process more completely. And understanding removes anxiety.
RELATED: How Does the Closing Process Work?
18. Can you explain the process to me?
This will give you all the steps involved in selling a home and why an agent is a valuable expert to have on your side.
RELATED: The Home Selling Process
19. Do you have a website and/or blog?
Virtually all agents have a website. Visit it to get a sense of the agent and the brand. Not many agents have blogs – though if you’re reading this you know Patrick Parker Realty does. Visit and read Real Estate Blog Posts. You will not only get a feel for the expertise of the Agent and their team, but blogging is a critical aspect to overall marketing these days… content of value pulls qualified buyers inward toward your Listing!
20. What haven’t I asked you that I need to know?
This catch-all can prevent surprises later on.
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