With so many real estate agents out there, the upfront process can be confusing. You might have a friend, family member or have seen a sign in a yard for sale but, how do you pick an agent and what questions should you be asking. The key to saving thousands of dollars comes from picking a great agent.
Someone who is experienced in the local area, a negotiation expert and that can navigate the waters of repairs and contract amendments should they arise. Your home is likely the largest asset and liability you will ever own. Its important to ask a few questions upfront to avoid the pitfalls when buying or selling.
I recently visited with Chase Giles, Realtor with The Giles Team a local Real Estate Expert here in The Woodlands, TX to have a better understanding of key questions clients should be asking. Let’s dive into some of his expert advice.
10 Questions to ask a Realtor before hiring them:
- How long have you been working as a Real Estate Agent?
Real estate agents who are experienced and knowledgeable can offer you an enormous amount of insight into the home buying process. This does not mean that you should avoid new agents—many brokerages offer great training to get new agents up and off the ground speeding up their learning curve. New agents can also have the ability to dedicate more time to their individual clients.
- Do you work alone or on a team?
It’s very common to see real estate agents work on teams. Whether it’s a pair of agents who work together, a single agent with staff and support behind them or a group of agents who work under one team name, it’s good to know who you’ll be working with.
- What are the hours you typically work?
This is a very important question to ask. Do you work a standard 9 to 5, or will I be able to get ahold of you during hours where I may not be at work and have the ability to communicate?
- How many clients are you currently working with?
Ideally, you’re looking for an agent who’s busy but not too busy. Agents juggling much more than 10 clients might be too busy to provide you with high-quality, one-on-one service. This can also vary depending if the agent is on a team or has a support staff.
- How will you keep me updated during my home buying process?
Does your agent prefer to stay in touch mainly by phone, email, or text? What’s your preferred method? Generally, it’s best if your agent’s preferred method of communication aligns with yours. Navigating the home buying process requires good communication, so you want an agent who will stay in touch and check in with you frequently.
- What areas do you specialize in?
When interviewing an agent, ask what areas or neighborhoods they specialize in. Hiring an agent that knows the market and area of where you’re looking can be very helpful. Negotiations can also be helpful if your agent knows the other realtor on the other side of the transaction whether your buying or listing your home.
- What tools will you use to help me find a house?
There are many tools agents may have in their “tool belt”. Popular ones can be access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) where listing homes are posted, relationships with other realtors, and even negotiation skills. Ask to see what strengths the real estate agent you’re interviewing may have.
- How quickly can you help me look at a home I’m interested in?
This goes back to “What are the hours you typically work?” and is very important. In a very competitive market an agent’s availability could help you find the home you’re looking for. Be sure to ask the agent about other time commitments they may have and to see if your schedules align on when you might be free to view homes.
- Do you have a list of recommended vendors to help during the home buying process?
One of the more challenging parts of buying, selling, or owning a home is knowing whom you can trust when you need help. A good agent will have a strong network of professionals that can help you. Remember that your agent can only offer recommendations, and some additionally research may need to be done by yourself.
- What questions do you have for me?
Your relationship with your agent is an important one and should be a true partnership. Look for an agent who has a genuine interest in understanding your plans and goals, and who will take all of your requests and requirements seriously.
With all these questions one thing holds true, a good agent will walk you through these items upfront without being asked. When you have a good experience the first time you will likely use the same realtor for multiple buying and selling transactions for many years. Make sure you ask these key questions for an enjoyable process. Buying and Selling can be stressful so having a team of experts you get to pick is key.
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