1. How long have you been an agent?
An agent that’s been in the business for a good amount of time will be able to anticipate problems before they arise and have tried and tested negotiation techniques. They will also have established relationships with other real estate professionals.
2. How many homes do you help buyers purchase each year? How many homes, total, do you help close?
Real estate agents close an average of 10 homes per year, according to NAR. If your agent is batting way below that, it could be a red flag.
3. Do you work full time or part time as an agent?
Full-time agents are more likely to be able to devote more time to working for you than someone who is pursuing real estate on the side.
4. Do you work with both buyers and sellers?
Many agents work as either buyer specialists or seller specialists. While it’s great to find someone who specializes, an agent who does both could offer some great insights on either side of the process.
5. How many buyer clients do you have right now?
This is a line to toe carefully. Too many clients may mean your agent doesn’t have time to devote to you; too few may be a cause for concern.
6. What’s the ratio of buyers to sellers that you represent?
Getting a feel for the ratio of buyers to sellers will give you some indication of your agent’s area of expertise. If they have a balanced roster of clients, it could mean they are very knowledgeable about both sides of the process.
There isn’t a magic number to look out for.
7. How long do you usually work with buyers, from the first home you see together to the closing table?
Though few buyers find their dream home immediately, your real estate agent can play a huge role in the length of time it takes to find your perfect house. Many things factor into how long it takes to find a home; however, you should be wary if your agent habitually works with serious and prepared clients for eight months or longer.
8. Can I see your real estate license?
This seems obvious, but always make sure you’re working with a licensed professional. There are lots of scams running out there in the world!
9. Do you have references I can call?
If you hired a new employee, you would probably call their references, right? Be sure you’re vetting your new agent with the same rigor you would any professional working for you. If they can’t offer you a list of satisfied clients, be careful.
10. Have you helped buyers find homes in these areas?
Your real estate agent should be knowledgeable about the area you’re looking at. Communities differ in terms of what types of homes buyers want, what types of homes sell, and so on. Make sure your agent knows the area where you want to buy.
11. Have you helped buyers find homes at these price ranges?
Price ranges can dramatically alter the way a home is marketed, and can also alter the way agents view them. You’re less likely to get attention from an agent who specializes in multimillion-dollar listings if your budget is $300,000.
12. Will I be working with you individually, or with a team?
While there are advantages to working with an agent individually, don't let a Team alarm you. Most teams have different people with different specialties. As long as the Agent lets you know up front that you will be working with more than just the agent, having a Team working for you can be very efficient and sometimes faster. Most Agents these days have a Team or at least a Transaction Coordinator.
13. Can you recommend (fill in the blank)?
Mortgage broker, appraiser, inspector, real estate lawyer, general contractor, moving companies, and anything else you can think of involving homes should all be things your agent can recommend. Your agent’s network may be just as important as their team.
14. How does your commission work?
As with any financial transaction, get a good understanding of how your agent is compensated before entering into a relationship with them.
Typically, buyers do not pay agent commission fees. Fees are paid by the seller to their broker, and then the commission is split with the buyer’s agent. The percentage varies by agent and market, but is usually between 5% and 6% for both the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent commission.
15. How do you help buyers compete in this market?
If you’re looking to buy in a competitive market, breaking through the competition is essential. Ask your prospective agent how they’re going to help you stand out in a potential sea of offers.
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