Not all real estate agents are the same. If you decide to
seek the help of an agent when selling or buying your home, you need some
good information before you make any moves.
An agent can cost or save you thousands of dollars
Picking an agent is one of those critical issues that can
cost or save you thousands of dollars. There are very specific questions you
should be asking to ensure that you get the best representation for your
needs. Some agents may prefer that you dont ask these questions, because
the knowledge youll gain from their honest answers will give you a very
good idea about what outcome you can expect from using this agent. And lets
face it – in real estate, as in life – not all things are created equal.
Hiring a real estate agent is just like any hiring process –
with you on the bosss side of the desk. Its critical that you make the
right decision about who will handle what is probably the single largest
financial investment you will ever make.
1. What makes you different? Why should I list my home with
Its a much tougher real estate market than it was a decade
ago. What unique marketing plans and programs does this agent have in place
to make sure that your home stands out favorably versus other competing
homes? What things does this agent offer you that others dont to help you
sell your home in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle
and for the most amount of money?
2. What is your company’s track record and reputation in
the market place?
It may seem like everywhere you look, real estate agents are
boasting about being #1 for this or that, or quoting you the number of homes
theyve sold. If you’re like many homeowners, you’ve probably become immune
to much of this information. After all, you ask, “Why should I care about
how many homes one agent sold over another. The only thing I care about is
whether they can sell my home quickly for the most amount of money.”
Well, because you want your home sold fast and for top
dollar, you should be asking the agents you interview how many homes they
have sold. I’m sure you will agree that success in real estate is selling
homes. If one agent is selling a lot of homes where another is selling only
a handful, ask yourself why this might be? What things are these two agents
You may be surprised to know that many agents sell fewer
than 10 homes a year. This volume makes it difficult for them to do full
impact marketing on your home, because they can’t raise the money it takes
to afford the advertising and special programs to give your home a high
profile. Also, at this low level, they probably can’t afford to hire an
assistant, which means that they’re running around trying to do all the
components of the job themselves, which means service may suffer.
3. What are your marketing plans for my home?
How much money does this agent spend in advertising the
homes s/he lists versus the other agents you are interviewing? In what media
(newspaper, magazine, TV etc.) does this agent advertise? What does s/he
know about the effectiveness of one medium over the other?
4. What has your company sold in my area?
Agents should bring you a complete listing of both their
own, and other comparable sales in your area.
5. Does your Broker control your advertising or do you?
If your agent is not in control of their own advertising,
then your home will be competing for advertising space not only with this
agent’s other listings, but also with the listings of every other agent in
6. On average, when your listings sell, how close is the
selling price to the asking price?
This information is available from the Real Estate Board. Is
this agent’s performance higher or lower than the board average? Their
performance on this measurement will help you predict how high a price you
will get for the sale of your home.
7. On average, how long does it take for your listings to
This information is also available from the Real Estate
Board. Does this agent tend to sell faster or slower than the board
average? Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how
long your home will be on the market before it sells.
8. How many Buyers are you currently working with?
Obviously, the more buyers your agent is working with, the
better your chances are of selling your home quickly. It will also impact
price because an agent with many buyers can set up an auction-like
atmosphere where many buyers bid on your home at the same time. Ask them to
describe the system they have for attracting buyers.
9. Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact?
Ask to see this list, and then proceed to spot check some of
10. What happens if I’m not happy with the job you are
doing to get my home sold?
Can I cancel my listing contract? Be wary of agents that
lock you into a lengthy listing contract which they can get out of (by
ceasing to effectively market your home) but you cant. There are usually
penalties and broker protection periods which safeguard the agents
interests, but not yours. How confident is your agent in the service s/he
will provide you? Will s/he allow you to cancel your contract without
penalty if youre not satisfied with the service provided?
Evaluate each agents responses to these 10 questions
carefully and objectively. Who will do the best job for you? These questions
will help you decide.