Selling a home can be difficult — you probably want to sell in a certain time frame and for the maximum price. For most of us, it represents one of the biggest financial transactions of our lifetimes, and it can help to have expert guide us through the process. A knowledgeable and trustworthy real estate agent can be a huge asset — and you want to do a thorough screening to get the best match for you.
You’ll want to ask about commission, of course, but it doesn’t stop there. Here are five questions that you should ask your potential real estate agent.
1. What’s Your Experience Like?
This is an important question because it will tell you how long the agent has been selling homes and what kinds of of properties they usually deal with (condos or single-family homes, or in-town or suburban). It’s important to find someone who not only has years of experience, but someone who is familiar with the neighborhoods you’re interested in and often sells homes in your price range.
2. May I See Your References?
Just as when you’re hiring a new employee, it’s important to check up on your real estate agent’s references. You should call every one of them. Ask what it was like to work with this person on a day-to-day basis. Was the agent easy to reach? Would you hire him again? Did she follow up with you regularly? Most real estate agents will give out their best references so don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions in order to get the most honest responses.
3. How Many Clients Do You Have?
Asking this question should give you a good idea of how much time your agent will have for you. You don’t want a real estate agent with too many clients nor do you want one with too few. The latter could be a bad sign since no one else seems willing to hire her. (On the other hand, seasonal fluctuations are normal.)
If you’re worried that your real estate agent might have too many clients or not enough time for you, ask if he works independently or with a team. A good agent will generally have a solid support staff to handle the routine tasks.
4. What Can You Tell Me About Growth Trends?
One of the biggest strengths real estate agents can bring to the table is their ability to analyze trends in the housing market. Anyone can go on Redfin or Zillow and look up homes for sale, but how do you know what is or isn’t a competitive price? Some ZIP codes might turn from a bustling metropolis to a forgotten foreclosure town in just a few years so it’s important to hire an agent who pays close attention to growth and price trends and can help you set an appropriate asking price.
5. What’s Your Success Rate?
The Internet has made it easy to look up your real estate agent’s sales records but don’t be afraid to ask. One thing you could ask for is the agent’s list-to-selling-price ratio. This ratio is found by comparing the list price to the selling price. But don’t get too caught up in this number, make sure to vet his or her other success metrics too.