According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 66% of all buyers hired and interviewed only one agent. There’s nothing wrong with hiring the first agent you meet, but make sure you ask the right questions and more importantly, that you get the right answers. We’ve compiled a list of questions to ask any potential real estate suitor to help get the conversation started.
Why Are You in Real Estate?
It has been proven time and time again that to be good at what you do you have to love what you do. This is a great conversation starter, and it lets you get to know the agent and their background that led them to their real estate career. If the agent deflects and just wants to ask his or her questions about your price range, number of bedrooms, location, etc., then they probably think they have you in the bag. Business is about relationships, you will be spending a lot of time in person and on the phone with this agent over the next several months. Personality conflicts will add a barrier to effective communication and can make it hard to respect the real estate advice that you receive.
Are You Full-Time or Part-Time?
You don’t hire a part time lawyer, surgeon, dentist, or pilot so why would you hire a part time real estate agent? To be great at a trade you need to be 100% invested in that trade and practice it day in and day out. When was the last time you re-programed your all-in-one TV remote from memory? Chances are if you don’t do it multiple times a week you will have to reference someone for help.
Do You Do Many Deals?
I’m surprised that I rarely ever get this question when I meet with new clients. If I were getting a titanium knee installed, this would be on the top of my list to the doctor who would be performing the surgery. If the answer was one to three a year, I probably would shop around and see what the industry average is before I committed to a doctor. The same theory should be applied to real estate. The NAR says the average number of transactions a real estate agent does a year is 12. Use this statistic as a benchmark while interviewing agents.
What’s Your Closing Rate?
A closer in professional baseball is a pitcher who comes in during the 8th or 9th inning while their team is ahead by a few runs and retires the remaining batters for the save. Think of your real estate agent as a closer in baseball. When your agent gets your property under contract, you want them to do everything to facilitate the closing. Ask the potential agent how many of their under contract sales have fallen though over the last year? What was the most challenging closing they have done, and what was required to get the home sale to go through? You want to hire a problem solver and someone who can think outside the box to get the transaction completed.
When are You Available?
If you are a buyer in a fast paced market, when you need to see a home, you need to see it quickly. It is important to know how the agent sets up showings. Are they the only one that will be showing properties or do they have an assistant or partner to help? How do they prioritize showings when scheduling conflicts exist? What is an expected response time to emails, phone calls, and showing requests?
What Do You Do for Fun?
What?! Buying or selling real estate is stressful enough. You want to have some commonality with your agent so that you can chat about non-business related things from time to time. If you are complete opposites and have very little in common, it may make for some awkward moments during conversation.
Making the Call
For most, buying or selling a home will be the largest purchase/sale they experience in their lifetime. It is critical that you hire the best agent who will help you succeed in your real estate objectives. Asking the right questions on the front end will save you time and frustration during the transaction which will hopefully lead to a pleasant home buying or selling experience.