14 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent Worth Their Salt

Homeowners may think real estate agents are all the same, or that they will only spend a couple of weeks with the person, so it doesn’t matter—but when you’re bringing another person into your life, your finances, and your home for weeks at a time, it’s crucial to take the time to choose the right one.

That’s why its important to consider these questions when selecting your real estate agent.

Top Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent You’re Thinking About Working With

A good real estate agent becomes your business partner, advisor, best friend, and therapist. Choose wisely, or you’ll be stuck with someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with, or worse, someone you don’t trust.

Before a home goes on the market, a good real estate agent will recommend necessary design changes, remodeling, and staging. You will likely speak with your agent every day, and when offers start to come in, you’ll speak with your agent several times a day. That’s why you need an all-around amazing real estate agent who you know you’ll get along with well.

Interview several agents before deciding upon one—if they can’t answer some of these questions to your liking, find someone else. When doing background research, you’ll find the answers to a lot of these questions on an agent’s website.

Take this checklist to meetings with your agent and don’t settle until all of their answers are to your satisfaction.

1. Can You Pass Along a List of References?

Every listing agent—and homebuyers’ agent for that matter—should have recent transactions. They should be willing to share those with you and should be happy to provide you with the contact information so that you can use them as references.  Don’t just ask for a list of references, make sure they are recent references and get at least 5.

2. What Is Your Listings’ Average Days on Market?

Always ask to see how long their listings sit on the market. Compare it to other agents interviewed, and if theirs is oddly high, ask for an explanation. If they can’t attest to why, find another agent.

3. What Is Your List-to-Price Ratio?

An agent can show the prices at which they list a home, but more important is to see how that compares to the price the homes actually sell—up to date, of course. 

In order to do this, you will need to get a spreadsheet of all the sales the agent has had in the last 12 months and compute the results.

This is important to assess an agent’s ability to price a home effectively.  If the agent’s ratio is low, then you know he is overpricing his listings and likely giving you a higher price estimate than what your home will likely sell for.

4. Have You Sold Homes in This Neighborhood?

Communities differ greatly in terms of what types of the types of homes and how they fit buyer’s tastes, that is certainly the case in Santa Clara. 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.

5. Have You Sold Homes in This Price Range?

A home’s price range can dramatically alter decisions for marketing and selling a house.  Agents should understand the market.  And if the agent you are speaking with primarily works in lower or higher priced markets they may not understand your market.

6. How Long Have You Been a Real Estate Agent?

Be cautious of new agents, but it’s not a deal-breaker if they have stellar referrals.  You want to make sure your agent has enough experience.

7. Are You a Part-Time or Full-Time Agent?

Be far more cautious if an agent is part-time. Selling your home needs to be a full-time job, and they should be focused on their profession.

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8. How Many Sellers Are You Currently Representing?

Focus is also a concern for agents who are juggling several listings. You don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.  An agent who has too many listings isn’t going to be able to interact with interested buyers and agent’s in a prompt fashion which may end up costing you a good offer on your home.

9. What’s the Ratio Between Buyers and Sellers You Represent?

Listing agents need to be experienced in, of course, listing. If history shows far more experience on the buying side than the selling, the agent may not have enough experience and understanding of the current market.  Working with an agent who primarily lists homes has a behind the scenes understanding of how to market a home and how strong the market really is.

10. Will I Be Working With You Directly or a Team?

If every time you call to get a hold of your agent you have to be routed through several people or agents, this is a red flag.  You need one point of contact that has intimate knowledge of your home and can give you an update on your home’s status on the market.

11. How Do You Plan to Market the Home?

Every realtor should have a proven and tested marketing plan—period.

12. Do You Have Professional Trades People in Your Network?

Experienced listing agents should have experience with reputable and reliable tradespeople such as a handyman, stager, house cleaners,  moving companies, cleaners, landscapers, etc… Part of the benefit of working with a real estate agent is access to their vast network.

13. How Do Your Realtor Fees Work?

No surprises, understand ahead of time how to pay the realtor. Typically listing agents work under split commission. See what the agent charges and how much commission they offer to the cooperating agent.

14. How did you Pick the Comparables for Your CMA (comparative market analysis)?

The CMA is what the agent will review with you that will help explain what they believe your home will sell for.  

It’s likely that every agent you interview will have a different perception and use different comps.  It’s important to understand what comps the agents used and why they felt those were the best comps to use.

This will help you understand how well the agent knows the area and how confident they are in the price they give you.

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