The 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Realtor®

Posted by Larry Tollen on Wednesday, December 13th, 2017 at 9:30am

Interviewing a real estate agent

Are you considering hiring a professional to assist you with buying or selling your home? This is a big decision, as the sale of real estate involves large amounts of money and there's a lot of things to keep track of. Hiring the wrong Realtor® can be a disaster. Whether buying or selling, it's critical that you ask the right questions when you interview agents. After more than 25 years as a Realtor®, here's my list of the 10 questions I advise my friends and family to ask.

How To Interview A Real Estate Agent

1. Are you a Full-Time Broker? Are you available on short notice to show me homes for sale (or handle potential buyers for my house)? Do you have time to work with me now? Not all agents work full time, many have second jobs or other things they prefer doing. As a home buyer or seller, you'll have to decide what level of service you want. In fast-moving markets it's important to stay on top of Busy Realtorthings, to know what's going on. Availability can make a vital difference. This is the time to find out about preferred communication methods and for the agent to tell you what you can expect. Everyone understands that no one is available 24/7, find out how they plan to handle things if they can't be there themselves.

2. How long have you been in the business? Here's an industry "secret": nearly 90% of new Realtors don't last two years. Of those that do, the 80-20 rule applies. 20% do 80% of the business. These are simply the statistics. This doesn't mean a new agent can't or won't do a great job, they absolutely may, just as one who has been in the business for years may or may not do a great job, but odds are if they've been around a longer time and are closing transactions (see below) you're likely better off. 

3. How many transactions have you closed in the past 12 months? You can ask for documentation, any agent should be able to easily generate a report showing their active, pending, and closed listings and sales. Markets can vary greatly so, there's no magic number of transactions to look for, but a rough guideline might be 12 or more closed transactions a year.

4. Do you have any other experience or skills that would be helpful to me as a home Buyer/Seller? Is the agent technologically adept? Do they have specific experience in negotiation, building, design, energy efficiency, finance, marketing, or sales?

5. Show me your online presence. For sellers this is critical. You want your property professionally displayed on all major Online Presence MattersSocial Media Sites as well as on the major real estate web portals, like Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, and others. Does the agent have a website and how professional is it? Is it one that actively attracts buyers on its own? How many websites do they distribute to? If you Google them what do you find? Check online reviews and testimonials.

For Buyers, this offers a way to see just how technologically savvy they really are as well as to check reviews and testimonials.

6. What will it cost me to work with you? How long will the contract be for and what happens if I'm unhappy with your service? Clearly, these are important questions regardless of whether you're a buyer or seller. There are no set prices or terms and different Realtors® have different policies. You want to be clear on what their policies are and what you're expect to pay.

Things to consider as a Seller: What is the commission rate and what do you get for it. The My NC Homes Team pays for floor plans for marketing purposes, consultation with a professional stager (when the home will have furniture in it), professional photography which may include aerial photography and possibly Matterport 3D photography. We have virtual tours and youtube videos created. We assist with the cost of a home warranty and pay to have the home professionally cleaned immediately prior to closing.

We market extensively both on and off-line. We offer a written guarantee to release you from your listing at no cost if you aren't happy with our service. There are no fees of any sort other than our commission from which we pay the Buyer's agent. There are other agents who offer similar service, many do not. Some will discount their fees, others do not. I believe in the end you should get what you pay for. If you pay a discounted price you should expect discounted service and the same is true in reverse.

Buyers need to understand if there any fees to the agent that they are responsible for. Is there a minimum commission your agent expects to receive? If so, how much and what happens if the seller side doesn't pay it? What happens if you end up buying a For Sale By Owner? What happens if there are bonuses offered as an incentive to the buyer's agent? Again there's no one magic formula, what matters is that you understand what if any your financial obligations may be working with the agent.

7. I'm going to be selling and buying, can you help me with both? Do you have any policies about this? What happens if I want to buy one of your listings or if one of your buyers wants to buy my home? Every state allows an agent to Agency Relationships"represent" both a buyer and seller within a single transaction. There are different names for this form of representation in different states, here and in many others, this is referred to as Dual Agency. While legal, I have always felt that there was a conflict of interest in doing so. I've yet to figure out how I could honor my legal fiduciary obligation to two clients with clearly stated opposite positions. I believe the only one well represented in a situation like this is the agent who is understandably focused on the commission they'll receive. You need to be clear on what the agent's policy is.

8. What is your experience with multiple offers? How would you advise me if I find myself in that position? This has become relatively common in the Research Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill North Carolina) market and in much of the country. In competitive markets, this is where experience in negotiating as well as availability matter most. It's not just price that motivates people, there are other considerations. As they say, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

9. What happens once I'm under contract? Will you personally be keeping me on track regarding the important dates of the contract? Will you be at my home inspections? (for the Buyer) What about the closing? Can you help me with inspectors, lenders, contractors, attorneys, and anyone else I may need throughout the process? Again, it differs among agents, some use various assistants to help with some of these tasks, some expect you to take care of these things, others areA Realtor Does more hands on. Everyone of the Realtors at the My NC Homes Team is hands on. We commit to being with our clients from start to finish and beyond. We know that this is what the job requires to make the process as low stress as possible for our buyers and sellers.

There is a lot that needs to get done from the time a contract is signed and most people don't have a lot of experience with real estate transactions as they only are involved in a few over their lifetime. To further complicate things each State is different and uses different contracts so even if you're the exception and have bought and sold many properties, there's a pretty good chance of your making a costly mistake without guidance. Isn't avoiding stress and problems the main reason for hiring a professional in the first place?

10. Can I see your reviews or speak with recent buyers (or sellers) you've worked with? If you still have any questions about the agent you need to find out what others think of them. With luck they have a strong online presence with dozens of ratings and recommendations, if not they should be able to provide you the names of people you can speak with.

Asking these questions is the best way I know of making certain you get a top-notch, professional Realtor® who will do a great job getting your home sold and/or helping you find a great property to call home. Having the right person on your side will make the entire process more enjoyable and less stressful and you may even get lucky and find one that will become a friend for life.

If you liked this piece, you may be interested in these two articles as well:

10 Things A Real Estate Agent Should Never Do by Realtor Bill Gassett

How to Interview a Real Estate Agent - The Balance: Make Money Personal

18 Responses to The 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Realtor®

How To Choose A REALTOR wrote:

[...]be around two years from now?
Questions To Ask Them During The Interview

Read more about what questions you need to ask your next REALTOR.

How many transactions have you closed in the past 6 months? The past year? Show me a report[...]

Posted on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 at 5:26pm

Important Terms You Should Know When Buying A Home wrote:

[...]Estate Agent
There are many benefits to working with an agent when buying a home. I have outlined questions and considerations first-time buyers should think about when venturing into homeownership. Agents[...]

Posted on Sunday, January 14th, 2018 at 9:39am

Tammy Houston wrote:

It sure was nice how you said that one of the best ways to determine if the potential realtor really does a good job was to check their website to see how other people see them and ask them about references to their previous clients. That sounds fairly easy, so I will give that one a try. I am looking for a real estate agent to help me but a new property for my parents. Considering that I will be buying a property for the first time in my life, I want to be certain with the person who will help me so that I do not make mistakes. I like your tips. Thank you!

Tammy- Glad to hear you enjoyed the article. We wish you all the best.

Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 at 9:07pm

Tammy Houston wrote:

It was really nice how you said that regardless of whether I am a buyer or a seller of the house, it's best to ask the charging rate of the realtor so that I know what to expect and how much I will have to pay. I will be sure to note that down since I am planning to buy a house by next season. Since I have a strict budget to follow, including the one that I will pay the realtor, I think this tip will help me out the most. Thanks!

Tammy- glad you found the article helpful. Thanks for leaving a comment

Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2018 at 2:16am

What it is like to buy and sell with My NC Homes wrote:

[...]Where to start when you want to sell you home?
Meet the My NC Homes Team
The 10 Questions to ask when hiring a Realtor





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Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2018 at 10:49am

Ernie Parnell wrote:

This is a perfect list of questions to ask before hire a top realtor. It is important to find the best way to determine before signed a contract with them. Thanks for sharing..!!

Ernie, glad to hear it was good information. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 at 1:27am

Taylor Bishop wrote:

I appreciate you explaining some good questions to ask a realtor. It's nice to know that you should see if you can ask for documentation of past transactions they've done. I wonder if you could also ask details about these specific places and how they proceeded with the listing.

Taylor these are definitely appropriate questions. Glad you found the article helpful.

Posted on Thursday, June 21st, 2018 at 10:39am

Gerty Gift wrote:

I really appreciate that you included asking about how to handle a multiple offer situation. We need to sell our house fast, but we want to make sure that we get the best deal on our house. I hope that we can find someone who can help us out if we come up on this situation.

Gerty, glad you found the article helpful. If you're in the Chapel Hill, Durham, Cary area of NC, give us a call we'd be happy to help you.

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2018 at 1:16pm

E.M. wrote:

I was glad to learn that you should plan with your realtor how long your contract will be and what will happen if you are unsatisfied with your service. I am going to look to hire a realtor to help me sell my home. I will be sure to ask them how long we will have to work together and what I should do if I am unhappy with their work.

Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 at 3:51pm

Easton Memmott wrote:

I love that you mentioned that it is necessary to ask your realtor if they have time to work with you, or if their workload is currently too much. I am currently looking to hire a realtor, and I want to make sure to hire the best realtor for myself. I will be sure to ask a realtor this before I decide to hire them.

Posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 at 1:16pm

Easton M. wrote:

I really loved how you mentioned that you should check with your realtor to see if they have time for you or if they will be too busy to give you their full attention and service. I am looking to buy a new home and I want to hire a realtor to help me. I will be sure to ask if they will have the time to give me their full attention.

Posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2018 at 1:33pm

Heidi Bookenstock wrote:

My husband and I have a job opportunity waiting for us in a new area. We are looking to sell our house and move out there as soon as we can, so we're thinking of hiring a real estate agent. I had no idea most new realtors only last two years; so it's smart to hire an experienced agent.

Heidi, Happy to hear you found the article useful. Congrats on the new job offer, if I can help you find a great agent to help you sell your home let me know, I'd be happy to do so. Larry Tollen

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 at 3:22pm

E.M. wrote:

I really like that you said that you should ask your realtor if they have the time for spending on you, or if their workload is too much right now. I need to hire a realtor, and it is very important to me that the realtor will have time to help me out personally. I will be sure to ask my next realtor about their workload and how it applies to me.

Posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 at 1:41pm

Easton Memmott wrote:

I like the tip you gave to ask your realtor about how many transactions they have closed in the past year, so you can get a good idea of the experience of your realtor. I need to sell my current home, so I can move to a new home that is closer to my work. I will be sure to ask my realtor about how many transactions they have closed in the past year.

Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2018 at 12:21pm

The Top Things to Look for When You're House Hunting in 2018 wrote:

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Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019 at 5:10pm

Ellen Hughes wrote:

You got me when you said that there are agents who have second jobs, so it's important to find out how they can handle all your needs. My husband and I are planning to buy a new house. We want a house that has at least 4 bedrooms so our children can have their own rooms. Our goal is to complete the buying process before the contract of our apartment expires, so we'll remember all your tips.

Ellen glad you hear you found our article informational. Good luck when you and your husband go to buy a home. If you're in the Research Triangle area, I hope you'll give us a call, we'd love to help you. Larry Tollen

Posted on Saturday, April 6th, 2019 at 12:53am

east wrote:

I like the tip that you gave to choose a realtor who has had previous experience with selling homes. My wife and I have been talking about finding a realtor to help us sell our home, and it would be important for us to know that we can find one who we could trust. If we choose to find a realtor, I will be sure to check their level of experience beforehand.

Posted on Monday, April 8th, 2019 at 12:18pm

East wrote:

I like the tip that you gave to choose a realtor who has a good amount of experience. My wife and I have been talking about finding a realtor to help us if we were to decide to sell our home, and it would be important for us to know that we could find one who we could trust in. If we decide to find a realtor, I will be sure to look for one who has a good amount of experience.

Glad you found the article helpful. -My NC Homes

Posted on Monday, May 13th, 2019 at 12:01pm

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