9 Questions You Must Ask When Interviewing Realtors
1. What is their experience?
For many agents, a career in real estate begins as a side income. It’s true that everyone has to start somewhere, but it’s also fair for you to find out how long they have been in real estate and how many homes they have sold. Every transaction is different, nuanced, and unique, and the more real-world experience an agent has, the better able they will be to serve you.
If you are interviewing someone who is really new to the industry, find out who is mentoring them and how they’ve been trained. Are they completely on their own? Or do they have someone with years of experience who is available to them - and to you - to make sure you are in the best hands. It’s not always fair to count someone out because they’re new, as long as they have someone who is partnering with them during each transaction and that person has a lot of experience and availability to also help in the sale of your home.
2. What is their marketing plan?
Not all listings are the same! A home doesn’t just sell itself, and there are a lot of ways that a house can be marketed to appeal to the most possible buyers. Who takes the listing pictures for you realtor? (Hint: The best answer is a professional photographer who specializes in interior pictures.) What do the write-ups for other listings of theirs look like? Is your realtor connected with interior decorators or stagers who can come in and assist the design of your home if needed to show stronger than ever?
3. What’s their commission?
Money can be awkward to talk about, but you are hiring someone to do a job for you, and you’re allowed to ask for a clear understanding of how they will get paid. Commissions can vary, so be sure to ask how your Realtor has chosen what their commission will be. If you are interviewing a Realtor who has a discounted commission, it’s more important than ever that you ask them the rest of these questions so that you will know with certainty that you aren’t also getting discounted service (which is often the case).
4. What is your commitment to working with them?
What type of contract does the real estate agent want you to sign? How long is it for? What if there are issues in the transaction, are they open to talking or changing the contract. You must feel and demand a high level of trust from a Realtor who is going to be handling your largest financial asset.
5. What do they think your house is worth, and why?
This is one of the most important questions you can ask your realtor. You need to have an accurate understanding of what your house can sell for, and you need to see the proof of why your realtor is giving you that number. Make sure you are talking to someone who is willing to tell you the truth of what you can get for your home and not just parrot back the number you are hoping to hear because they want your business. What does this proof look like? It will most often look like comparisons to other similar homes that have recently sold in your area coupled with their assessment of the current demand of your home’s price range.
6. How and how often will they communicate?
Every realtor essentially makes their own hours and gets to decide how available they are to you. I know from experience with my clients and my own process of selling a home - if a buyer or seller has a question, they want it answered immediately. This means that I do my best to respond to texts and emails as soon as I get them. Selling your home can often feel like an emotional rollercoaster, so make sure you are matched with a realtor who is available to answer your questions promptly.
7. What makes them the best?
Again, this can be an awkward question to ask, but it shouldn’t be hard for your realtor to articulate what sets them apart from others. Another simple way to do this is to ask your realtor for referrals - either on their website, a written referral, or a phone conversation with a past client.
8. How familiar are they with your market?
Every market is nuanced and you will want to make sure you are working with someone who is at the very least somewhat local and will have a better understanding of what the market actually looks like in your area. Find out if they are familiar not only with what homes similar to yours have recently sold for, but also if they understand the various neighborhoods in your area and can identify what some draws and drawbacks may be to your home’s location.
9. What do they think of your home?
Everyone likes to hear compliments about their home, but constructive criticism is more likely to lead to what you want: a home sold for top dollar. If the realtor you are interviewing can’t speak plainly and honestly in their assessment of your home, they will likely also have a hard time navigating any difficult conversations or negotiations that come up along the way. There are only three reasons why a house does not sell: marketing, price, and condition. The conversations around these factors can sometimes be difficult but are imperative to get right so you are able to sell quickly and not linger on the market and accept a lower price.