In today’s market, hiring the right agent to sell your house has never been more important. Hiring the wrong agent can delay the sale of your house for months. You need to interview an agent to learn about their background, to see what they know about your neighborhood, and to find out if they are a good fit with you and your lifestyle.
Here are some important questions you should ask each agent you interview.
1. How many years have you been involved in real estate?
Ideally you want a career real estate agent that has been in the industry for at least 2 or 3 years. Or at least you want to make sure that they are under the direct supervision of someone with 3 to 5 years of experience.
2. Are you a REALTOR and do you have any special real estate accredited designations or certifications? How would those designations benefit me?
All REALTORS are licensed real estate agents, but not all licensed real estate agents are REALTORS. REALTORS hold themselves to a higher standard in addition to the standards required by the state licensing board plus in most areas, only Realtors can access their local MLS.
3. Is real estate your full-time career or a part-time career?
You only want a professional full-time real estate agent to sell your house. To do it right, real estate is a full-time job. You shouldn’t hire an agent that only spends a few hours a week on the job.
4. What makes you a better choice for me than your competition?
Use this question to discover how competitive they are and how well they have researched the market and their competition, especially in your area. Their answers can also reveal their level of experience too.
5. Are you a member of a team and who would I be working with?
A team is a group of agents that service the same customers. Usually one agent does a specific task or works with a particular client or specific area. Find out how their team works. There are advantages to working with teams however their approach may seem less personal. Make sure you feel comfortable with the way their team operates and how they will service you. Also make sure that you have a list of teammates and their duties and contact information.
6. Do you or a member of your team speak a foreign language?
If your neighborhood has a large portion of non-English speaking residents, an agent that speaks the language may be able to better market to those non-English speaking residents. Ask your agent how they would address a non-English speaking customer.
7. How accessible are you and how often will you contact me?
One of the biggest criticisms about agents is a lack of communication. Make sure your agent knows what you think is an appropriate level of communication and that you want as many contact numbers as possible. If they do give you their home number, please be considerate of how you use it.
8. Do you just work with sellers, or do you represent buyers too?
There’s nothing wrong with working with both as long as they don’t spread their time too thin. Buyers take up a lot of an agent’s time when showing homes. Find out their ratio of buyers to sellers.
9. How many clients are you currently working with and what’s the ratio of buyers to sellers?
Once again, just make sure they don’t spread themselves too thin. Make sure they have enough time to sell your house and the buyer connections to show your house to.
10. How do you deal with disclosed dual-agency?
Dual-agency is a tricky situation where the agent represents both the buyer and seller of the same transaction. When representing both sides, they in effect can not really represent either side well. If that sounds like an awkward explanation, I assure you the law is even more unclear. Read “Information about Brokerage Services” to learn about the law of agency. This is a standard form published by the Texas Real Estate Commission for agents licensed in Texas.
11. What areas of town do you specialize in?
Ideally, they should be familiar with your area. However, it may not be the only area they specialize in. If they say they specialize in the entire DFW area, remember that the DFW metroplex is an area of 9,286 square miles, making it larger in area than Rhode Island and Connecticut combined according to Wikipedia.com. Have them narrow it down a bit.
12. What can you tell me about the demographics of my neighborhood? How will you use this information to my advantage to market my home?
This question reveals how much they know about your area and how specialized their marketing campaign can be tailored to your specific location.
13. How will you determine the appropriate sales price for my home?
Usually this is done by comparing sales activity of similar houses. The big debate is how your house compares to other houses that have sold. They may be able to offer ideas to improve your house and make it sell for more. If done correctly, all of the agents you interview should price your home pretty close to the other agents. If an agent prices your house significantly higher or lower than the other agents’ prices, find out why they priced it that way. Remember, if it’s too good to be true then it usually is. Some agents promise to list your house at a high price knowing that once you’ve signed the agreement, they can make you lower it to a reasonable amount later on. That wastes time and the longer your house sits on the market, the less money you’ll sell it for.
14. How are you going to advertise my home? How often will you hold open houses? How will you promote it?
Make sure they don’t just list it in MLS and plant a sign in your yard. They may advertise in newspapers, magazines and other publications both in print and online. Open houses are also a way to promote your house, but their effectiveness is up for debate and in most cases only benefit the agent by attracting new buyer clients. Ask your agent about their views on open houses.
15. What does the listing agreement entail? What are the starting and expiration dates? What’s your commission and how negotiable is it?
Make sure you read the contract and ask them to leave you a copy. Be sure you understand It before you sign it. The important things to know are when the starting and expiration dates are, how much the commissions and fees are, and how to terminate the agreement due to non-performance. Remember, if you have a problem with the agent, you can always ask AgentHarvest to talk with them.
16. What haven’t I asked you that I need to know?
This is the best way to ask for references. You may even be lucky enough to actually know the homeowner. Be sure to ask the homeowner lots of questions related to likes, dislikes, and the agent’s performance compared to what he/she promised.
17. One blog reader recommended that you ask the agent for a list of the homes he/she sold near yours, call those homeowners and ask them how they liked working with that agent.
Learn what they think is important for you to know. Remember, it’s their job to help you understand and become comfortable with the process.
18. The most important question you need to ask is the question you must ask yourself…
Do I think this agent will do a good job selling my home and can I work with him/her to achieve this goal?
Looking for Real Estate Agents to interview? You can find top-selling agents in your area by using AgentHarvest’s free agent-finder service.
Now that you have all this information, what comes next? Read over all the information they gave you. Read over the contracts, look at their handouts and compare each agent. Ask the agents questions if you do not understand anything. You can also email any questions to me directly at email@example.com too if I can be of help.
If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.
This is an amazingly good blog and thanks once again for posting this kind of information! This is good stuff!
These are really good questions. I would say I wish I had them when I was looking for help, but I was really, really lucky to have a real fighter on my side. He was the most attentive, determined guy I could have imagined beforehand. For everyone else reading this, it looks like you’ve given away gold here!
Thanks for reading and commenting. Without doing an in-depth interview, if you hire a good agent, consider yourself lucky. With AgentHarvest working on your behalf to discover the good agents that sold your neighbors’ houses, and if you use the information we provide on our blogs, and do your homework, you’ll have confidence that you’re making the right choice when you ultimately hire your agent. The work you put into finding and hiring will pay dividends with the convenience and efficiency of working with a great agent.
I think the most important things to ask in an interview is how many houses that agent sold in the homeowner’s neighborhood, and rather than ask for references. I’d ask for a list of houses the agent sold in my neighborhood and call those clients instead. That way, I can find out how the agent behaved selling houses in my neighborhood and price range.
I certainly agree. Can’t believe I didn’t have it in my list since AgentHarvest preaches about finding local agents everyday. Will be adding that tip first chance I get. Thanks Fred. As far as references, I can’t imagine anyone giving a bad reference, can you?
By talking with neighbors that used that agent, you can find out lots of interesting details, and it’s even better if you know the neighbor. That’s why AgentHarvest only considers agents that sold houses within a 5-mile radius of your home. We’re not really interested in the sales they made on the other end of town.
Thanks again for the addition to the list. I’m sure many homeowners will benefit from your comment.
These are all very helpful questions. I’d have to agree with what Fred said. It’s important to know how many homes they have sold especially in the local area. Thanks for sharing this!
Owner of FireBall Tech
Hello. I really find your article interesting and useful. I’ve been wanting to hire some agent that can sell my house in months tops. This article is of great help to me. I will follow your suggestions.
What can I do about a realtor who just flipped out and said I do not quailify. I need to file a complaint but she is not a licensed real estate agent but has been very nice and knowledgeable but she wanted my personal info to get me pre-quailified but never even called for over a week after getting the info. So I finally called her. I knew I would pre-quailify but she just yelled at me and said since I am collecting SSI and working part time I won’t and don’t call her. Isn’t she breaking codes of ethics by taking my info for mortgage companies and then not contacting me or not telling me who has my info or if anyone does at all??? She knew all about my income and the house I want would be very manageable (less then the one in now)! HELP! did she break codes of ethics?
Sorry to hear about your experience, but if she’s not licensed by the state then she’s not a licensed real estate agent and not be a member of the National Assoc of Realtors. Are you sure she wasn’t a licensed loan broker? If she’s none of these, she’s an imposter if she led you to believe that she was an agent or was acting as an agent. If she performed the role of agent, and was not licensed, depending on the laws of your state, what she did could be described as illegal, rather than unethical.
Given your description of the events, you may be a victim of an identity theft phishing scam. I’d call the credit bureaus and report the incident if you agree with my assessment. Ask them to put a “theft alert” on your report so they can watch closely for unusual activity.
If she is legit and not trying to fraud you, she should be rewarded for declining your business because it sounds like she did you a great favor. I don’t think you would have liked working with this rude person.
I am in Texas and she works at an agency under a broker. I have been working with her for 3 months and she has been very nice and knowledgeable until today. Her speciality is to work with people like me who want to use programs like MAP.
Glad to hear it isn’t a phishing scam, however, if she’s not a licensed agent (real estate or loan officer), she is not allowed to service you other than in a paper-pushing, clerical work kind-of-way without a license. She can not provide advice. She may be “practicing without a license.” That’s the legal term for it. That may be something you may want to bring up to her broker, if I understand the situation correctly from what you described earlier.
If she’s not willing to work on your behalf, you’re best served by going somewhere else. Just be glad she was honest enough to tell you rather than string you along with weeks or months of bad service.
I have already spoken with the lender and will be getting my prequailifying letter and just found a new realtor!! YEEEE! I think the problem is the other woman should not be taking my info to present to mortgage companies. This seems unethical if she is a realtor.
She shouldn’t present your info to anyone without your permission. Distributing your information without your authorization is a serious violation of your trust. She’s required to protect that info, not distribute it. Depending on the circumstances, she may be doing something that could get her and her broker in serious trouble. You should inform her broker of this situation.
Please keep in mind that I am answering your question based solely on the information you provided so I can only answer based on vague assumptions. I do not have the entire story, but one thing’s for sure is that you need to have this discussion with your current agent and you should consider talking with her broker too. The broker needs to be aware if she’s doing things that could get the broker in trouble.
I went through you extensive list of questions to as my broker, there were a few that I would not have thought of asking. Great information,thank you
Glad they were useful. I hope you downloaded the questionnaire that had answers that I would want to hear your broker give. The best part of using a list of questions is that you can be sure to conduct the same interview for all of the agents you talk to and that gives you a method of comparison.
Best of luck with your agent. Remember, you hired them and you’re the boss.
For me, being a real estate salesman sounds like one of the hardest jobs in the world. I worked in HR department and this questionnaire is superb and will help get the best agent when all these questions fit certain applicant criteria.
This is a good guide. Having these can speed up the process. It really difficult to ask question you are not familiar with. With these tips it can surely help lots of home owner pick up the right agent.
This is really good guide for us, I totally love this post how you’ve written, I would say I wish I had them when I was looking for help, but I was really, really lucky to have a real fighter on my side. He was the most attentive, determined guy I could have imagined beforehand. Thank you so much for taking the time to discussing it.
Do I need a license to become a real estate agent? Once my mom told me I’d better have a formal training on this because there are this friends who always constantly call me to help them find a house or a land. Is there a proper training to become one?
You need a license before helping your friends find houses. Licensing and educational requirements are different in each state so check with your state’s real estate licensing board’s website for specifics about your state.
Don’t do anything agent related until you become licensed otherwise you’ll be breaking the law.
Nice list Bill. I’m not the most trusting person and so I’ve never really trusted Agents..lol I mean seriously how do you really know that the Agent isn’t simply putting up my house on the MLS and that’s it. How would you truly know if the Agent is aggressively trying to sell your house. I know I had no clue with my first house and come to find out later that after 8 months on the market that’s basically all he did..lol
Sure you can trust an agent, but do it the way President Reagan trusted Gorbachev. “Trust but verify.” I have a hard time trusting agents too. There’s a term used in the real estate industry called “puffing.” Puffing means stretching the truth or exaggerating to get a sale. The fact that it happens so frequently in our industry that we can name it should say something.
My thought is to believe what is verifiable and indisputable. In this case, it’s past sales. If an agent sold the most in a particular area last year, they’ll probably be able to sell a lot this year in the same area. Rather than believe what they say, I like starting my search with proof of what they did.
However, once you hire the agent, you’re not done yet. You have to set goals and measure progress. You have to treat them like employees. Let them know what you expect then hold them to it and follow their progress.
Is there a way to check for myself what my home should sell for? Do I need to have a appraisal done? I checked Zillow and Trulia and they are $28 thousand apart. Of course I’d like to sell at the higher price but I don’t want to price it so high it just sits on the market.