How to Hire the Right Agent
Choosing a real estate agent is just as important as picking a dentist, choosing your doctor or deciding which schools to send your children to.
It is astounding to know how many people do not put much thought into the real estate agent they are hiring to help them with the largest investment of their lives.
One of the Largest Investments You will Make
A common misconception that all real estate agents do pretty much the same thing is not true. The clients will only start to question the ability of their real estate agent after the listing contract has been signed and when the property isn't selling or after the buyers keep missing out on great deals.
By this time, the client is unhappy, the real estate agent is frustrated and it is a poor situation for both.
Hopefully with numerous probing questions provided here, this will open enough dialogue for both the consumer and the real estate agent to see if both parties would be a good match to work together.
How do so Many People Pick the Wrong Agent?
Even though you may have been referred to a real estate agent by someone you trust, you must still do your due diligence.
You must still confirm that the real estate agent's personality will suit yours, their experience level will benefit your situation, and their area of expertise is what you're looking for.
Consumers who didn't have a good experience with an agent that was referred to them, made some fundamental mistakes that are easily correctable.
Conversely, consumers who picked their own real estate agent and ended up with a bad experience made the same fundamental mistakes.
1. Be Careful Not to Assume too Much
Consumers don't ask enough questions of their real estate agents and some just assume too much. When consumers see real estate agents' faces on billboards, bus benches, newspapers, and flyers they make a visual assumption that the agent looks friendly.
A second assumption is that the real estate agent must be doing well financially therefore concluding that they must be a good agent. WRONG! Anyone can buy advertising and spend a fortune on marketing themselves but that doesn't make them good.
Just because a real estate agent worked for your friend or family member doesn't mean that they will be a good match with your personality or your situation.
2. What Should I do if I Hired the Wrong Agent?
If you ended up with the wrong real estate agent, it doesn't necessarily mean that the agent wasn't capable of getting the job done, nor does it mean that they weren't a good person.
It is simple, not enough of the right questions were asked to make an informed decision about the real estate agent you hired. So explain your disappointment and hire another agent quickly.
Everyone wants a pleasant experience when buying or selling any real estate. Majority of people spend a lot more time researching the purchase of a new car's make, model, and color than they do hiring the right real agent. It is an easy mistake to make.
So whether you are buying or selling please take a few minutes and ask all or a couple of these questions of the real estate professional who will be handling your investment.
3. Take Your Time Choosing the Right Agent
These questions are meant to get dialogue going between the two parties; if an agent is new to the business and lacks experience he/she may have other qualities that many senior agents do not possess.
Although an agent may have been referred to you by a friend, your boss or your family member please remember that just because this agent worked out well for them it doesn't mean that they will work out well for you.
You will not offend or show any disrespect to your friend, boss or family member if you ask a couple of qualifying questions to the agent you are about to hire for the largest investment of your life.
4. Do I Need an Agent?
Whether you need or want an agent is totally up to you, it is a personal decision. Some consumers are in a situation where they are forced to use the services of an agent, and need the assistance.
Some may prefer to go it alone and find it more satisfying to buy or sell on their own.
According to the Canadian Real Estate Association there are "more than 145 steps to complete a real estate transaction" and if the task of buying or selling your home privately is too daunting then the services of real estate agent might just be what you are looking for.
5. What can an Agent do for Me?
Consumers use the services of real estate agents because the agents can provide both the buyer and the seller with up to date data on the value of one or more properties.
Agents provide advice on how to show your home, they advertise your listing on the MLS and take care of all of the details when it comes to buying or selling a home.
If you are selling they will put up a sign, market and advertise your home and, whether buying or selling, they will have a clear understanding about the necessary contracts needed to protect your interests.
They will negotiate your offer and leave you with a sense of reassurance that all your real estate needs are being taken care of, leaving you the consumer, with peace of mind.
6. How do I Choose the Right Agent?
Asking enough of the right questions will dictate whether you will have a positive experience using an agent or one that will be filled with regret.
There are many types of real estate agents within the industry; some have higher levels of education while others have numerous years of experience.
It is not my intention or desire to discriminate or favour any agent's level of experience or level of education within the real estate industry.
The purpose of these questions is to promote effective dialogue between the consumer and the real estate professional in order to help the consumer feel more comfortable and confident in choosing a real estate professional.
By the time most of these questions are asked and answered, you will know which agent is right for you, for your personality, and for your circumstances.
Please don't be in a rush to pick your agent, this is one of the largest investments you will make in your life time. Have some fun with it and enjoy yourself.
Here are Some Sample Questions for your Consideration
Why did you get into real estate? (Shows passion)
What is your area of speciality? (Shows target marketing; you might hear response such as first time home buyers or residential)
How many homes have you sold in my area? (This shows that they know the area)
How many active listings do you currently personally have? (This will be an indication of whether they are a listing agent or buyers agents, or how busy they are)
How many of your listings did not sell and were left to expire? (This is important because if a lot of their listings went expired then it could mean reductions were not done when needed; if they don't know this answer then that should be a warning. All good agents know this answer.)
How long does it take you to sell a house? (If they do not know this answer maybe they are new to the industry)
How many buyers are you dealing with right now? (Good question and will indicate how busy they are and if they know more about buying than selling)
Did you ever have any problems when your clients took possession of their house? (If an agent has never had any problems then they are not for you. Every agent has had a problem on possession date at one time or another. Either the agent is new or they are not busy at all, or they are not telling you the truth)
What were some problems you had on a possession date? (Some problems on possession date might be getting the keys from other agent; or getting the release of keys from the seller's lawyer; agents do not have any control over when keys are released. Other problems could be that the home was not vacant, or it was dirty, or there was a problem with appliances or heating/AC systems. You may encounter some problems on possession date but some are normal and simply corrected)
How did you handle them? (Listen very carefully, did the agent take responsibility or push the blame to someone else? Many problems encountered on possession are not the agent's fault but, as customer service providers, agents need to take an active role and assist in solving the issue)
What do you prefer listings or buyers? Why? (This is a general question and listen carefully to their response and reason)
How many houses have you sold in total not including your listings? (Some agents will count their listings that were sold by another agent as a "sold" house. It becomes confusing for the seller/buyer because if an agent has 10 listings and all 10 sold by someone else, how many houses did he sell? NONE. He listed them. So you will want to know how many he actually sold to decide if he is the buyer's agent for you)
Is real estate your full time job? (This shows commitment and focus)
How much is your commission? (All commissions can be negotiated and there is NO STANDARD commission fee)
What did you do before you got into real estate? (Shows history of sales or customer care and service)
How long have you been a real estate agent? (This is used only as a bench mark and should be used with caution. Some agents have been in business for 5 years but only sold 9 houses! Other agents have been in business for 1.5 years and sold 20 houses. Use this question in combination with them all)
What makes you different than the other agents? (Personal opinion of the agent, if you are giving him/her the largest investment of your life don't you want to know why they are different?)
How many real estate offices have you been at? (Shows commitment and loyalty, expect movement. If the agent has been in business for 3 years and moved every 6 months you need to ask yourself why?)
How many franchises have you been with? (This either shows experience or lack of commitment. If an agent has been with many offices but the same franchise, then that shows loyalty. If an agent has been with lots of different franchises, then look at how many years in business and reasons for moving)
Do you do open houses? (Some agents like them others do not, if you decide to commit to an agent, pre-pick your open house days in advance and get a commitment from the agent to do them)
Do you live in this area? (This is helpful to know; the agent will be familiar with the speciality of the area like ethnicity, schools and shopping.
Do you have a marketing plan? (Tells how he/she plans to pick the target market of your home, either to seniors, first time home buyers, investors, etc)
Where do you advertise? (Will indicate if they use more than just the MLS)
Can I see any examples of your advertisements? (Will indicate if the agent is prepared and proud of what they do)
Why do you think I should choose you to sell my home or help me buy my home? (This is different than question 17 in that the response will be personal to the agent. It will be opinion based, "I am the best for the job" "I want to help you")
What makes you qualified to list my home? (Education is what we are looking for here)
Do you have any testimonials? (this is a good way to see what other people are saying about them)
Do you have any references I could call or have them call me? (Good source to check out that what agent was saying was truthful)
What do you do for the community? (Do they help out their community? What are they passionate about within the community?)
What charities are you active in? (They may donate a couple of dollars off each commission cheque to go to a charity of the Broker's choice, you want to know other than that, what else have they done? This shows community involvement)
Some agents may be very inexperienced and new to the business, so kindly remember that although they may lack experience they may surprise you and demonstrate an exceptional level of customer service.
Conversely, an agent may dazzle you with their experience and their productivity but you may not have any follow up or customer service because they are too busy with their growing inventory.
Again, this list is not meant to discriminate against any level of experience but provide an open dialogue for the consumer to get to know the agent and make an informed decision whether or not they are comfortable hiring any particular agent to represent them.
I hope these questions help you to make the right decision. If I can be of any further assistance please don't hesitate to interview me. I am up for the challenge!