One of the most important things to consider when choosing an agent is finding someone that you feel comfortable spending time with! Check their reviews online, and ask them tons of questions!
Some great questions to keep in mind when meeting an agent:
What kind of experience do they have?
- Is this your full-time gig? How many clients have you served this year?
Look for dedication. An active, full-time agent is also more likely to be up-to-date on the market and the law. Review their past sales and ask about recent real estate transactions.
- What designations or certifications do you hold?
Some real estate professionals have received specialized training in order to obtain certain distinctions, designations, and certifications. These help define special areas of expertise and skills that an agent possesses. For example, the SRES®, or Senior Real Estate Specialist, designation means that I have recieved specific training to understand the unique needs of Senior Citizens as they navigate the housing market.
- How many foreclosure or short-sale transactions have you handled?
Distressed properties can be great deals, but the paperwork is complicated, and your liability is greater. The best agents have experience closing these deals with banks.
Do you trust them?
- Can you share references?
Get a feel for what it would be like working with the agent by talking to people who have dealt with them before. Does the agent get a fair amount of repeat business or referrals? Look for testimonials from past clients.
- Is your real estate license in good standing and have you ever been subject to a client complaint?
Are they listening to what you need and want?
- How will you communicate?
Good communication with your agent is crucial, so it is important to make clear how frequently you should expect to be in contact with them and whether communication will primarily be via phone calls, emails, etc. An agent who responds quickly understands that a matter of hours can be the difference between a successful transaction and missing out.
- Who else will be working with me?
Agents get very busy, so they often are supported by a team. While this allows the agent to operate more efficiently, it is important to understand who your main point of contact will be. Remember that the agent you hire should be doing most of the work.
- How Will You Help Me Find Other Professionals?
A good agent should be able to provide you with a list of Trusted Vendors with whom they have conducted business in the past. However, you should never feel pressured to use only their recommendations- you are free to use any service provider you like.
- What will it cost me to sell this property?
Make sure you understand how the commissions work and any additional costs associated with selling your home.
- What Is Your Average List-Price-to-Sales-Price Ratio?
How far over or under the home’s asking price do your agent’s listings typically go for?
- How many sales have you handled in my target neighborhoods?
An agent who has dealt in your target neighborhoods in the past has a better grasp of the local market and a better understanding of how to cater your home for sale in that community.
- Can you give me a written CMA and a list of homes currently on the market?
Take the time to thoroughly review comps with your agent. They are a great guide to pricing. In my experience with buying and selling homes in the greater Los Angeles area, over-pricing is the kiss of death. A detailed CMA will also tell you a lot about the agent and their knowledge of the market.
Do you understand their marketing strategy?
- Specifically, how will you sell my home?
Ask to see sample marketing materials
- Where and how often do you advertise?
Is a direct mail campaign appropriate? Why or why not?
- How do you market online?
A blend of online and offline marketing will reach a broader spectrum of buyers. Know the manner and frequency of advertising and any open houses. There should at least be an open house for other brokers, especially for buyers’ brokers.
- A note about Photos:
Often times the first impression a potential buyer gets of your home is through a photograph. So it is important to have lots of GOOD photos taken. Ask how many will be taken and by whom. A professional photographer is always preferable. I have seen some HORRIBLE real estate photography. Bonus tip: a video of the home and/or neighborhood will help your home stand out from the rest.
- A note about Staging:
Do you work with stagers or will you stage my home? In order to attract buyers and ensure that you get top dollar for your home, you must pay special attention to how your home is presented to the world. Consider working with a professional stager to help set your home up for success. Remember, the goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible and get your asking price. Ask the agent to make suggestions to improve the salability of your home – it will probably involve your kitchen and baths, the most common areas of buyer interest and generally the best home improvement return on investment (ROI). Whether you choose to hire a professional or do it yourself, a little bit of staging goes a long way.
Do you have a website and/or blog?
All agents should have a website. Review their website to get a feel for the branding and learn about past sales and areas of expertise. If they have a blog, READ IT! as they can provide insights into the agent’s personality & local expertise, among other things. When was it last updated?
What Are the Top Three Things That Separate You From Your Competition?
Allow your agent to explain to you why they are best suited for the job. Everyone has their own individual needs and priorities when it comes to chosing an agent, but most people look for specific traits. Are they-
• Honest and trustworthy
• Excellent negotiators
• Available by phone or e-mail
• Good communicators
• Able to maintain a good sense of humor under trying circumstances
What Haven’t I Asked You That I Need to Know?
The agent can provide you with information that you may have forgotten to ask about or may not be aware of.
If you are actively looking for an agent who is the best fit for you, feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions! It was my pleasure to share my knowledge with you, and I wish you the best on your home buying and selling! For more tips, please download my Free Consultation Guides for LA Buyer and Sellers.