Buying or selling real estate is probably the most significant transaction you’ll ever make in your life. That’s why it’s essential to choose the best Realtor to help you achieve this goal. But before you hire the services of a real estate agent, there are critical factors to consider.
Many people have the perception that all real estate agents are the same. Some sign with the first one that comes along. Unfortunately, they realize later that they should have been more selective before signing an agreement. To guide you in choosing the best Realtor for your needs, below are seven questions to ask your prospective real estate agent.
1) What is your experience in real estate?
First, you need to ask a real estate agent how long they’ve been in the real estate business. It doesn’t mean that you cannot enlist the services of newly licensed real estate agents. Remember that those with years of experience under their belts are probably more knowledgeable on what to do, from listing to closing. Aside from the number of years in the business, ask them what real estate segment they focus on – residential, commercial, luxury, etc. Find out if they are primarily a listing agent, buyer’s agent (or both). Familiarity with the market is also essential, so ask what geographic areas the agent usually covers. You can even dig deeper by asking if the agent has received any awards for outstanding performance.
2) How many and what types of properties have you listed and sold in the past year?
It’s one of the most important questions you should ask a real estate agent. The number of properties they have listed and sold in the past year is a valuable indicator of how good a real estate professional is in getting the job done. Take note that this question consists of two parts: properties listed and properties sold. Agents may demonstrate their ability to list homes; however, the more important thing is the sales part – the ability to close deals. If they have many properties listed and sold in the past year, it shows that whatever strategy the agent uses, it’s indeed working.
3) What was the average sales price for the properties you’ve sold over the last year?
Asking this will give you an idea of what kind of market the agent specializes in. Find out if the real estate professional has experience selling properties in the price range you’re listing at. If most properties sold fall in the low-end market segment, it might take longer for the agent to sell if yours is a higher-end home. Although agents can sell any property regardless of the price range, they will likely have better success in the market and price segments with the most experience.
4) What is your average sale to list price ratio?
The sale-to-list price ratio (the sale-to-list or list-to-sale ratio) is the final sales price divided by the listing price, expressed as a percentage. If it is 100%, it means the sales price was equal to the list price. You can view this ratio in two ways. A skilled listing agent can negotiate sales prices similar to or close to the list price and sometimes even more significant in a competitive market. So ideally, listing agents should have a sale-to-list price ratio closer to 100%. On the other side of the coin, a good buyer’s agent can often negotiate a lower sales price than the list price. Therefore, buyer’s agent ratios ideally should be lower than 99%.
5) What marketing strategies will you use?
Deciding on strategies can spell the difference between success and failure. A poor marketing strategy will diminish the chances for success. Do your due diligence by asking how the agent will sell your property. There are many options – staging, open houses, joint marketing, print advertising, and online marketing. Whatever approaches are used should be designed to bring in the highest number of qualified potential buyers. Higher-end properties can also often benefit from professional staging. Your agent should advise you on preparing the property best to make it the most attractive to potential buyers.
6) Can you give me some references?
Reputation is essential in this line of business. Whether buying or selling a property, you should ask for references (past clients). If possible, call a few and ask them about their experiences with the agent. Were they pleased with the service provided? Also, ask if they are in any way related to the agent. A list of references from friends or relatives generally won’t give an objective assessment of the agent’s qualifications.
7) Do you offer any guarantee, and will you let me out of my contract early if I am unsatisfied with your service?
You can’t say with certainty how things will go, even if you did your due diligence. For this reason, you should ensure that you’re prepared for any eventuality. If you sign a contract and later find that you’re unsatisfied with the service, will the agent allow you to cancel the agreement? If things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to, you should be free to choose another agent who can deliver better results.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when choosing a real estate agent. Finding and interviewing Realtors can be a very time-consuming and laborious task. However, now armed with these seven questions, you are on your way to choosing the best Realtor for your needs.