Ask These 8 Questions Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent
Hiring a real estate agent is a smart move for anyone buying or selling a home in Evergreen or Conifer—but especially when market conditions are challenging. A seasoned veteran real estate practitioner should have the necessary experience and expert knowledge of negotiation, complex real estate processes, and a command of everything going on in and around Evergreen and Conifer. A true geographic specialist can make your transaction smoother and your life easier while getting you a great deal; you just have to find the right fit for you.
How do you do that? You can find plenty of real estate agents via the web and online reviews, social media, or word-of-mouth recommendations. Wherever you find yours, don’t hire them until you’ve asked these eight questions.
1. What’s your availability like?
Ask this question to get an understanding of how occupied the real estate agent is. Everyone is busy—but if the agent has an overloaded schedule, an upcoming vacation, or other conflicts, it might be worth looking into another option. You should feel sure that the real estate agent has time for you and that your needs will be met. I'm often stunned to hear agents talk about how busy they are but then see that they only closed 15 transactions last year. What are they doing with their time? Why can't you answer the phone, texts or emails? An easy bellwether of your experience with an agent is what their time to contact is. When you call, do they answer?
2. What’s your marketing strategy?
This one is the most important question if you’re selling a home. How will the agent get your property in front of potential buyers? Does their marketing plan include professional photography--or is it simply that they have the latest iPhone (not good enough in our market)? What about social media advertising and email blasts? Print media? Video?
There are many different marketing tactics a real estate agent can use to sell your home, and just as no two homes are alike, no two real estate transactions should be treated as identical. Your potential agent should talk to you about your goals and come up with a unique-to-you plan for achieving them. If they don’t, keep shopping around.
Plenty of agents found that they could simply put their new listing in the MLS and the flood of buyers would come clamoring over themselves to buy it. Those days are behind us--what is the plan for attracting the best buyer?
3. What’s your negotiation style?
Whether you’re buying or selling, negotiation is potentially the most nerve-wracking part of the transaction—for everyone! Asking this question will help you understand how the real estate agent will negotiate on your behalf. Do they play hardball or are they more compromising? Are they agreeable or do they have the capacity to assert what is best for you (or even know what that is). It will also tell you how confident the agent is in their ability to get you the price you want and the terms you’re looking for, so make sure you’re happy with their answer. Can they defend your pricing strategy with market awareness or do they fall back on the "American style of negotiating" always trying to split the difference with no resolve?
4. How do you like to communicate?
Buying or selling, it’s important to have a real estate agent whose communication style is compatible with yours. Do you prefer calls, emails, or texts? Do you like bare-bones, straightforward information or do you prefer a little sugar-coating? Make sure your preferences match before committing to a situation that could end up frustrating you. Now is a good time to ask how often the real estate agent will be in touch and what kind of updates you can expect to receive. When you call the agent who will answer? Are you working with the iconic agent you hired or someone that agent hired to delegate to?
5. How long have you been in business in Evergreen and Conifer?
Asking this question will give you an idea of the real estate agent's experience level and their familiarity with the market. These things are important because they influence how expertly the agent will be able to navigate any issues that arise. It will determine how well they place your home in the market if you’re selling and how easily they find you your dream home at the right price if you're buying. Local expertise and years of experience also come with a priceless network of relationships and contacts to help you meet your goals.
How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood? I always like that one! Odds are good an agent who sold the home across the street or around the corner knows things that other agents don't--and they can use that information to your benefit.
6. What are your fees?
Ask this question to be sure you understand how much you will pay the agent for their services. If you’re a buyer, you generally don’t have to worry about it. Typically, buyer’s agents and seller’s agents are paid a percentage out of the proceeds of the home sale. If you’re a seller, make sure you know what that percentage is so you’re not surprised when the sale goes through. Likewise, lots of brokerages have added fees that you may be responsible for.
Many real estate agencies also offer additional services like staging, repairs, and even remodeling for homesellers. If you'd like to use any of these, make sure you know what the costs are and whether or not you have to pay them upfront or after you sell.
7. Do you have any references?
Buying or selling a home is a huge decision, and who you choose to accompany you on that journey can mean the difference between mega success and mega stress. Great real estate agents understand that, and they should be happy to provide references from clients who had good experiences working with them. It’s also a good idea to look up public reviews of any real estate agent you’re thinking of hiring-- but keep in mind that some of these sites (like maybe Zillow) will only show you agents that pay for lead generation on those sites.
8. What experience do you have with these market conditions?
The answer to this question will tell you how confident the agent is that they can help you reach your goals—especially when the market is becoming difficult. It will give you an idea of how tuned in to the market they are and if they’re aware of the current potential pitfalls and struggles. It also gives you an opportunity to see how straightforward the real estate agent is with their communication. A good follow-up question is: “What’s your plan for making sure we’re successful in this market?”
Have any questions?
Bob has the answers. Tell us what’s on your mind and what your goals are, and he’ll make a plan to help you meet them and show you success stories of how he has helped clients achieve similar goals.