When choosing a Realtor or agent to work with there are questions that should be asked before you make that commitment. I came up with 10 questions that I would ask. You may have more but these are the ones that I thought would give you a firm idea whether or not you wanted to hire this person or not. Here they are.
How Long Have They Been In Business?
Does the Realtor need to have 20 years experience? I don’t believe so. However, an agent that got his or her license may not be your best option. With one caveat, If they work within a team or they are partnered with an experienced agent. This approach may work in your best interest.
Here’s what I’m driving at. A new agent is very motivated to get out there and really work hard. ( because Real Estate is a commission-driven business) but typically they do not have the knowledge or experience to have success right out of the gate. If they are on a team or are working with an experienced agent the likelihood that they will make in the business, and not your expense will go up dramatically.
So what would be a level of experience that would be “Good Enough” to ensure you get the service you need and deserve? I would say that a single agent not on a team should have 1-2 years of experience in their local market. To be more specific, he or she should have a few sales and listings that have gone to closing during this time.
If they work on a team or have partnered with an experienced agent, and they are new to the business, I would say that you focus your questions of “ how long have you been in the business towards the other agent.
What Markets Do They Work In?
I thought this was or could be a really good question because some agents will work or take listings out of their general or market area. When an agent takes a listing in an area that he or she is not familiar just for the fact that they hope that they will get it sold is a disservice to the seller and potential buyers.
I would say that there is one exception to this rule. If an agent work a very rural area it may be necessary to work with property owners that are in multiple counties. The familiarity one’s local market is crucial when selling real estate. This works on both sides of the transaction. If a buyer looks in a given area and sees an agents name on multiple properties he or she will begin to subconsciously say to themselves this person is the “go-to agent” in that market.
Most people want to work with the person that they perceive as the BEST. Another indicator, is the agent or brokerage involved in the community? Do they sponsor local events? Is social media suggesting that this company or agent is a good organization to work with? Are they getting good reviews? I am not saying that should only deal with 5 star rated agents. Because anyone that has been in business long enough will have a complaint or two. Look for solid comments that will lead to believe this person or a firm will be on your side.
Zillow and Realtor.com have agent metrics on their sites. This will help you determine what areas a given agent has the highest concentration of sales. This will help you determine what agent or broker you ultimately want to work with.
Don’t let this exclude a “Newly Licensed Agent”. Back to my previous question on experience. Is the agent working within an organization that will ensure their success? Another indicator of community involvement would be, do they offer buyer workshops and FSBO (for sale by owner) workshops? Bottom line, the more your agent is involved in their local market, the better they will be at serving the people they offer services to. (YOU)
What is their commitment to the Real Estate Business? Part-Time or Full-Time?
Is having a part-time agent a bad thing? This is where I’m probably going to get killed. The bigger question is. How available is the agent? An agent can be part-time and be very available. Or they could be a part-time agent and not be available at all. Here’s what I’m driving at. If an agent has a lifestyle whee he or she only wants to service and sell a few properties per year and has a good experience, is active in their local market and community, then, by all means, I would consider using them as my Realtor.
However, on the other hand, if the agent has no availability because they have two jobs and a family, I would probably pass on that particular agent. But with everything else, there is an exception. If they are transitioning into the business as a full-time agent and are working in the team environment like I previously mentioned then I may consider this person.
You may get a really good feeling about this person. If so, then let your gut take over. To help you in the process there are resources out there that can help you make a good decision. My questions throughout this article are to get you to think about the type of person or company you want to assist you in decisions about either the largest investment you will probably make or the biggest investment you are going to liquidate.
There are thousands of Realtors out there. More coming on every day. Everyone trying to make their fortunes selling real estate. I have no problem with that. Heck, I was one of those agents. My problem was that I was an agent when the interest rates were 17% and there wasn’t social media or the web.
On a factual note in Florida, there are approximately 180,000 Realtors. that’s a bunch of agents fighting out for commissions and the opportunity to earn your business. There’s always going to be the ‘cream of the crop” in every business. Make sure you find an agent that best serve you.
My final thought, If the business is so lucrative why not go with an agent that’s full-time. An agent that’s fighting for business on a day to day basis. An agent that may be feeding his or her family via their real estate career.
What kind of marketing do they do for their property sellers?
Most agents have what is called the 30-second elevator pitch. Anyone is sales that worth their salt will have some type of quick pitch to grab the attention of a potential prospect. Though this may be a little “Old School” it’s still practiced in most sales organizations. It’s the basically I’m so wonderful and here are all the great things that I am going to do or will do for you if you hire me.
With that in mind, a great question is, What are you going to do to MARKET my property? Because in reality. Especially in this market the best agents market, market, market. Here are 3 key areas you should consider.
- Does your agent do the photos themselves or do they hire a professional?
- Do they produce a tour, use a drone for aerials, or take videos?
- Where and how do they advertise?
When it comes to photos, it’s important to get some quality photos of your property. Whether a so-called professional takes them or not can be immaterial, as long as they are good to great photos. If there is one thing you should learn after reading this post is, TODAY” S REAL ESTATE IS DIGITAL. What do I mean by that? The value of the real estate is still location, location, location. The marketing is digital. Over 70% of all real estate transactions start online. Bad pics, no traffic, no sale. It’s the world we live in.
Does your agent include a live tour or a walkthrough? Gain the more engaging that you can get a potential buyer to be, the higher the possibility of getting an appointment to show the property. So when asking your 10 questions, I would really focus in on the question of marketing. Keep in mind that it’s not just about traffic to your particular property, it’s traffic in general that matters.
An agent that has great marketing on all his or her property will generate more potential buyers which will drive sales ( Good For You) Additionally when you have good digital assets, other agents will gravitate towards your listings. This MLS support if you will is a major reason your property will move quickly.
Advertising has changed so much over the years especially with respect to selling the property. Back in the day we simply put ads in Homes magazine or placed an ad in the local paper hoping to generate interest. Today it’s FaceBook, other social media like Pinterest. Instagram and Craigslist.
Look for agents that can outline a strategy that incorporates some or all of these platforms.
Do they LIST & SELL or Just LIST?
You are probably thinking, don’t all agent list and Sell? And does this really make a difference? Let’s look at this question carefully and see how this may affect your outcome. Agents and Brokers have developed skill sets. It’s like any other profession. You may be in the medical field as a nurse. You have a general knowledge of all the aspects of nursing but have a better talent for say, taking blood. Have you ever gone to get a blood test and the person doing it seemed as if they didn’t know what they were doing? And the next time you go, it’s like nothing ever happened.
When I was in the Real estate business my specialty was ‘creative financing” I was taught by a very successful Broker how to use the HP 12C ( Financial Calculator). I loved it. I could illustrate just about any financial scenario. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to list or market a property, it was that my passion was using creative ways to help people get into houses.
This holds true today. If you are a buyer looking to purchase a new property you’ll want to gravitate towards using an agent that has a passion for working with buyers. If you are a seller, find an agent that is good at listing, marketing and networking with other agents that have plenty of buyers.
If you find an agent that has is well versed in both areas you hit the jackpot. Both types of agents have a tendency to work hand in hand. Both skill sets are very valuable. This relationship between the buyer’s agent and the listing agent is so important to the industry that without it I don’t believe the real estate market would be so successful.
What makes them different?
I love this question. This is probably one of the harder questions you will have to ask your new broker or agent. Primarily because “ Everyone” is special and the best at whatever they do. You hear it all the time. I more qualified. I have a CCIM, I have 20 years experience, I have an MBA in business, I sold 12 Million last year.… and on and on and on.
Maybe a better question would be why should I hire you to represent me? Get a solid and honest answer to this question. If an agent says “I have only been in business for six months, but I will work really hard for” and you believe them, then, by all means, hire them. If you are getting the vibe that this person is full of it, then walk away. It is my opinion that if you get a bad vibe, the other parties that you will be dealing with throughout the transaction will probably be getting the same vibe.
If the agent or broker was referred to you through a friend or relative it doesn’t always mean that you will like the agent.
Additionally, use social media to determine whether or not the agent is likable, successful and customer service orientated. At the end of the day, it’s the agent you feel that you can work with that you should choose.
Do They DYI their photos and videos, or hire a professional?
First, full disclosure, we are a Real Estate Photography company. Like Flo says “That’s What We Do, Photos”. However, I want you to pay attention to my next comment, I don’t have an issue with the Realtor or Agent that DYI’s their clients listing photos. But by all means necessary, don’t let your agent or broker use their cell phone to take pictures of your property.
They are in one of the best markets we have seen in a long time. If they want to DYI, that’s fine. However, they should be making enough money to buy a “Middle Of The Road DSLR”. I’ll say it again, cell phone pics are not going to give you what you want in terms of overall quality and engagement.
I have already established that the digital assets (pics and videos) are the main ingredient when it comes to marketing your property. One of the ways you can determine if your agent is going to give you their full support and effort is to look at other properties that are listed by them and or the firm they work with. If you see a disproportionate amount of listings with bad photos, no walk-through(s) and no videos ao aerials, you may not be working with the right firm.
You are getting ready to give up anywhere from 4%-6% of the properties value to a Realtor that won’t even shell out $150 to ensure that you are getting high-quality pictures. The problem that I see is that in the lower-priced areas, most agents feel that that there are not enough commissions in the transaction to support any additional expenses. What they are hoping for is that it’s a seller’s market and just about everything is selling.
On the higher end properties, the competition for buyers is higher and they have to put more money in digital because that’s what’s expected and needed to attract a potential buyer quick. On top of the fact that the commissions are much larger and the brokers are more willing to make the investment.
Whether you are on the low end or high end of the market, insist that your agent or brokerage give you what their promotional DPL (dollar per listing) is. You should have an expectation that they are going to give you the same level of support(proportionally) as the property on the high end.
My last thought on this is, good digital marketing can make a difference. An average property commission is around $12,000 ( 200,000 home @ 6%) Your broker should be willing to spend a few hundred dollars to ensure you have a good result.
What relationships do they have with appraisers, mortgage lenders, title companies, inspectors and other professionals?
Most established Realtor’s have relationships with outside vendors like inspectors, mortgage brokers, title companies. . As a seller or buyer, this can dramatically help you when it comes to either buying or selling a property. For example, if you are a buyer that may have had some credit issues or down payment challenged. Having the right relationships with the right mortgage specialist can be the difference between getting a home or not.
You may have recently changed jobs or be self-employed. All these factors have a bearing on your success.
As a seller, you may need to get your property closed quickly. Knowing the right vendors can help you get quick inspections, surveys, and closings. Knowing the best title companies can ensure you have an uneventful closing.
When it comes to inspections like termite room and roof it’s important to be able to get them completed as soon as possible. In a busy real estate market, inspections can be hard to get on a timely basis. Additionally, when a property doesn’t pass an inspection and repairs need to be completed you’ll need someone to complete those repairs. Having an agent that has the connections to get someone over right away to make the repairs can save you money and time.
The relationships that your broker has with outside support professionals can make a huge difference in the overall transaction. So ask about inspections, title company, and other vendor relationships. The Real Estate transaction has a lot of moving parts and will be touched by many. Make sure you are working with an agent that can manage and follow through on all aspects of the transaction.
What’s there experience? Were they are sales, marketing, a teacher or maybe they were a bus driver.
Many people go into Real Estate as a second career or a part-time job as a way to supplement their income. I have often wondered what professions these people come from. What type of people is successful at Real Estate? Were they are sales, were the educators, doctors, engineers or lumbers?
After I looked into it a little further I found that they came from all of these professions. However, which professions offered the best foundation for success in the real estate industry. Some would say that if you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything. Others would say that educators have a consultative nature and they would be successful. And what about the plumber, well he or she has the construction background and they certainly would be successful. The truth is any and all of these professions have positive traits that can help a person be successful in real estate. So if this is the case why even ask the question?
Asking this question call tell whether or not a person will be in the business in 1,2 or even 5 years from now. A person that has been in some type of commission will have a full understanding of what it will take to produce income for their family. However, someone that has worked in a cushy government job may be in for a real shock when they have to make a 100 cold calls, write a blog post once a week, design Facebook ads and make sure an open house has to set up and running on a Sunday afternoon.
Someone that has run their own business will be much more prepared to venture into a full-time real estate than someone that has not. However, I’m not saying that those that have not been in sales or have not run their own business can’t or won’t be successful, I’m simply saying that certain experiences lend itself to success in real estate.
When asking this question, don’t let the answer you get be the reason for your final decision. Use it as a guide to give yourself some insight into the person that you are hiring to either help you buy or help you sell your home. I have said, “if you feel as if this person is the right person to help you with your real estate needs, by all means, hire them”.
How much Do They Charge, are the fees negotiable?
This will be by far the hardest question that you will have to ask. No one likes to talk about commissions, fees, and other money-related issues. This is very understandable. However, Realtor’s can and will charge up to 7% on the sale of a residential property. On the commercial side, you could be charged upwards of 10%.
In today’s environment, the average is around 6%. On a $200,000 home that’s $12,000. A 2% reduction in fees could save you $4,000. For some sellers, this can be huge savings. In many areas around the country, there are companies that provide programs that will dramatically reduce the cost of selling your home. There are For sale By Owner Programs, Flat Fee Programs and programs like Offer-Up and others that give you the basic listing agreement, put you on your local MLS and you handle the rest.
These programs are not for everyone. However, it’s always good to look at all the options. A better solution may be to work with a local agent on a reduced fee. You get a limited-service agreement and handle some of the sales and closing process your self.
As a negotiation point, you may agree to make the purchase of your next home through the same Realtor that is selling your home. This way the agent will get paid on two transactions versus one and this will be much more enticing for the agent to reduce their fees on the listing of your home.
The idea that I present to you is that you can negotiate Real Estate fees. You simply have to ask. If you find that the agent or broker is inflexible, then move on. Sure, you’ll get the “ I don’t reduce my fees for anyone” speech, don’t listen. This one question could save you thousands. SO ASK.
Let’s Sum It Up.
You are basically hiring someone to either help you buy a home, sell a home and in some cases both. Interview them like you would interview anyone else. Get some comfort in knowing that you made the right decision for you and your family.
Over the past several years there have been numerous referral companies pop up. Angie’s List, Home Advisor, and many others. Why are they so popular? Because these companies do the interviewing for you. They check out the plumber, roofer and the doctor.
It’s your job to make sure that you ask questions and get answers that meet your expectations. There’s nothing that says that you have to pay 7% to sell your home. There’s nothing that says you shouldn’t get quality pics, videos, and marketing when yo sell your home. The questions I have outlined here are suggestions. You might have a few questions to ask that you think are more important. If so then make sure you ask.
Take care of yourself and until next time have a great day!
Image Streets Photography.