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  • Writer's pictureColleen

21 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a New REALTOR®

Updated: Mar 20

Anytime we are talking about the sale of real estate we are talking about a big decision, and anytime you are making big- maybe even life changing decision- you want to make sure you have the right people in your corner, and that includes who your REALTOR® is going to be.

Here are a couple General Questions to ask when first interviewing a REALTOR®

Can I see your real estate license?

This simple question ensures you’re working with a trained, accredited professional. No reputable REALTOR® will have an issue showing you proof of their license to sell in your area, in fact they are required to keep a copy of it at their Brokers office, displayed at all times. If they can’t deliver, feel free to move on.

Is your fee negotiable?

If this answer is not yes, then you need to walk away right now. Fees are always negotiable in real estate.

Most REALTORS® have a base they cannot go below due to two reasons. 1 When you sign a contract with a REALTOR® you're actually signing a contract with the Broker that your REALTOR® works for, and the Broker needs to collect a fee from each transaction in order to run an effective business and support all of us REALTORS®, and 2 there are plenty of flat fees paid for filing, listing, and marketing which a good REALTOR® will have factored into the commission they are asking for.

You can always negotiate and ask for something else, but if what you are asking for is not reasonable, the REALTOR® can walk away from a bad deal as easily as you can.

What are your hours?

Make sure you are working with someone whose schedule matches yours. REALTORS® make their own hours so it's a good idea to make sure that your REALTOR® is able to work with you when you are available.

Many REALTORS® Have fixed office hours that they advertise about on their website or business cards, but that doesn’t always include the hours they work open houses, or go on showings with clients, so make sure you check and know ahead of time.

Do you have references?

Getting references is a great way to get to know your REALTOR® without having to ask them a lot of personal questions. References will let you know what kinds of people do your REALTOR® typically work with, what types of properties do they have good experiences with, the geographical location they specialize in and of course what your REALTORS® past clients thought of the overall experience. This is also a great option if you are working a with a new REALTOR® because they may not be able to show you a long and steady track record but we all know quality is way more important than quantity.

May I have my Consumer notice? Always Always Always make sure you get your consumer notice at the first meeting.

If by the time you meet in person your REALTOR® hasn't even mentioned the consumer notice, leave. Walk away.

The consumer notice looks scary, because it looks like a contract, but it's not scary at all, and it's not a contract. In fact, at the very top of your consumer notice it should read "This is not a contract". So why do you want this paper so badly? Because it outlines all of your rights as a client, and what your REALTOR® is responsible for. Not only should your REALTOR® provide you with this, but they should be going over it with you first and foremost.

Does this contract include a cancellation clause?

Yes. So knowing a little bit about contract law and real estate law will help you out here. Luckily, REALTORS® have to learn this, so they should be able to go over this with you when you ask. There are a few things that will always terminate your contract and other things that will terminate your agency, but necessarily your contract. Now that I'm actually writing it out I feel like this question could get its own blog foreal- so I will leave you with this. Yes, there already in place a few things that will automatically terminate your contract and or your agency with your REALTOR®.

A few more things to note here are that in PA real estate contracts cannot last for longer than 1 year. The length of the contract is also negotiable. So when you are writing up or going over the agency agreement with your REALTOR® not only should you be able to choose how long the agency will last, but you can also negotiate for a cancelation clause that is not already a part of the contract.

Will I be working with you directly or a team?

Team or Individual? Working with team may be what you need to help you manage a busy schedule while an individual may be able to offer you a more one on one personal connection. Whatever you choose, make sure you know what you're in for ahead of time. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting comfortable with an agent and then seeing someone new at every meeting. If you are going to work with a team, ask for introductions to everyone upfront.

How many homes have you helped clients buy or sell in the past 12 months?

It's good to know how efficiently your R works by checking their recent track record. REALTORS® have been assisting in real estate transactions throughout every market and you want someone who is going to know what to do and anticipate how to best help you.

If you are working with a newer agent, this won't be a great indicator of how well they, work, or how dedicated they will be to you, and in that case, you can ask for references from previous employment or from their current Broker.

Do you have _______ in your network?

One of the benefits of working with a REALTOR® is access to their vast network. If you need to make repairs but also need a quick close, a good REALTOR® can always give you the names of reputable trusted companies. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you could need to call quite a few professionals. Experienced REALTORS® should, at a minimum, be able to recommend the following: mortgage advisor, insurance agent, contractor, home stager, house cleaners, and moving companies.

Your REALTOR® should never force the use of one company over another on you. Your REALTOR® should always disclose any relation to any person or company. Your REALTOR® should never receive financial gain from the recommendations provided to you.

How do your fees work?

Both listing and buyers agents have their own fees because both have fees they have to pay per transaction and also a salary to make. A listing agent typically will ask for a split commission or a co-broke. This is when the seller pays the listing agent a commission, and that agent splits it with the agent who brought the buyer to the home. Offering the split commission offers you more marketing opportunities because it shows cooperation which certain real estate marketing options only allow cooperative marketing.

If you’re a buyer, your REALTOR® and you will discuss the commission that your REALTOR® will receive, but luckily for you that fee will probably be covered by the listing agent (like we just talked about), but your contract will include a fee to cover your REALTORS® commission if the listing agent isn't offering your REALTORS® full commission.

If You are a Buyer, Here are some buyer Specific Questions

What’s your experience in the neighborhood?

Using a local REALTOR® means having help from someone with experience in the neighborhood you are moving to. This means that your REALTOR® will have the inside scoop to community events, hiking trails, amazing food, and more, making them the perfect fit to help you find your dream home. It is illegal for REALTORS® to tell you which neighborhoods or properties we think are best for you, or to force you to buy or not buy anything, and of course discrimination of any kind is illegal as well, but you are free to ask us anything. A good REALTOR® will easily answer any questions you have while remaining professional and a decent human being.

Have you ever owned property yourself?

For the same reason that many parents prefer a pediatrician that also has children, you will want to work with a REALTOR® who has been in your shoes. If an agent has never owned property of their own, you might want to second-guess working with them, or at least ensure they explain the reasoning behind their choice.

Do you offer Credit counseling?

Whether your REALTOR® is licensed, or worked with someone who is, this could be a very important asset to have when getting ready to buy. If your score is low or have expensive taste make sure your REALTOR® knows how to help you improve your credit so you can increase your mortgage loan and also home options.

Can you pre-qualify me?

If you don't already have a lender your REALTOR® should be able to help you find one. Your lender can get your pre-approved which helps getting a loan quick and easy. Pre-qualification is something your REALTOR® can do. They take a look at the details about your finances and you receive a general idea of what size mortgage you might be able to get. It’s helpful for planning and browsing when you are starting out on your search for your home.

What’s your strategy as a buyer’s agent?

This is one of the most important questions to ask a REALTOR® because each of them has different strategies for closing deals. Make sure the one you pick has an approach that fits your needs. If you prioritize getting as great a deal as possible no matter how many offers are declined, you’ll want a tough negotiator. If you are counting on closing on a special house you must have, you may want an agent who likes to reach a compromise. The best traits for you will vary by your own preferences, as well as your market.

If You are a Seller, Here are some Seller Specific Questions

How do you plan to market my home?

Your REALTOR® should have a plan for how to your home, but they should also be able to share it with you. Knowing what's going may give you a realistic idea of the timeline for how long before you can expect and offer or a sale. Do they target buyers in their social media listings, and how large is their following? Have they found that flyers work, or another form of advertising? Any listing agent that you meet with should have a plan, with concrete details, to sell your house. This will also help to showcase some of your REALTORS® unique abilities depending on what marketing strategies they use or how big their market is.

What’s your experience in the neighborhood?

Has your REALTOR® sold or helped someone buy a home in this neighborhood before? Have they sold this style, price range, and location before? Two neighboring communities can be vastly different — one could have lots of young families, with parks and great schools, the other could be a bedroom community for young professionals. Each will draw a different type of buyer. The right agent will know who’s buying homes in your area, and how to market to them.

Plus, to sell a home, agents are also selling the neighborhood and its perks. If an agent has experience in your specific neighborhood, it’s a major advantage.

Have you sold homes in this area and my price range before?

Different price ranges attract different cliental, your REALTOR® should be ready to know how to attract the type of financial gain that you are looking to receive after settlement. This is also a great opportunity to ask about a CMA so that you and your REALTOR® are on the same page as to what your home is worth.

How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood in the past year?

The number of homes your REALTOR® sold last year tells you how active they are in the market and how effective at their job. You also want an agent who’s sold homes in your neighborhood. One city could have multiple neighborhoods with vastly different characteristics — from the quality of schools to access to public transportation. Working with an agent with experience in your area is a big advantage.

How will you help me prepare my home to sell?

A good REALTOR® will walk through your house and have a few suggestions to help you sell. A new coat of paint or replacing burnt out light bulbs could help you sell faster, but be wary of agents suggesting large remodeling projects. You’re unlikely to recoup that money if you sell right away.

What are the average days on market for your listings?

The average days on market is how long it takes for an REALTORS® listings to sell. Always ask to see this number, and compare it between the agents you interview. Ask for an explanation for any outliers — for example, high-end, million dollar homes take longer to sell. If they don’t have a good reason it takes them longer, find another REALTOR®.

What is your average list-to-sales price ratio?

The list to price ratio is the sales price divided by the asking price. It tells you how close to the listing price the house sold for — and it could be a sign that a REALTOR® always gets their clients more. A good list-to-price ratio will depend on the market and location but be wary of percentages too far below 90%.

Also, if an REALTORS® ratio is over 100%, be careful. They could follow a strategy of underpricing homes to pad the ratio. Request specific details about how they determine list price.

And remember this is a two way partnership and your REALTOR® is going to have questions for you too

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