Some of the most common questions we ask real estate agents are irrelevant to whether or not they’re right for the job. You don’t want someone who takes a low or no commission but can’t find you a home before you have to move. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been in business if they can’t find the ideal home for your family. Here are the most important questions to ask a real estate agent before deciding to work with them.
What type of property do you specialize in?
You expect real estate agents to have a deep, hyper-local knowledge. However, this isn’t enough. For example, commercial real estate agents know relatively little about the residential real estate market, and someone who knows every strip center in the region may be fuzzy on the office building market. The same is true for the residential real estate market. A real estate agent who specializes in single family homes in the suburbs or affordable condos downtown isn’t the best person to hire to find a luxury home. If you’re interested in Rancho Santa Fe luxury real estate, only work with a real estate agent who is an expert in both the area and the upper end of the market.
You can follow up these questions by asking how many homes someone has closed in the neighborhood you’re interested in.
Are you a realtor or a real estate agent?
A realtor must be a member of the National Association of Realtors. This holds them to a strict set of association ethics. This is similar to federal and state law, but you can consider it a higher standard. If you’re working with a real estate agent who has a team behind them, ask if you’ll be working with the highest performer in the group or handed off to an assistant.
How will you market/find properties?
Expect a property to be listed in the MLS. In the case of luxury homes, it may be advertised in local papers and real estate websites. However, the best real estate agents go to great lengths to promote properties. This might take the form of virtual reality tours online, walk-throughs on local real estate shows, or advertising to foreign executives. Ask realtors how they will market the properties.
If you’re searching for a home to buy, the best real estate agents have the connections to find properties that aren’t on the market. These may be homes that haven’t hit the market yet. It could be a family dealing with a death or divorce and needs to sell it. It may be a financially distressed seller who wants to close quickly before they are forced to see it auctioned off.
What percentage of your clients are home buyers or sellers?
If you want to sell your home, you want to work with someone who mostly deals with home sellers. If you’re trying to buy a home, you want to work with a realtor who primarily deals with home buyers. An agent with experience in both can provide useful insight, but the heavy movers are the best choice when you need to sell your home quickly or find a new one almost immediately.