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5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Real Estate Agent

24 Nov 2020

Moving is a major life event – especially when it involves selling your current home.

To make the process as friction-free as possible, it’s crucial to have a great real estate agent by your side. A competent, reliable agent will walk you through it step-by-step, answer any questions, and handle much of the legal and administrative burden.

Finding a good real estate agent, though, can be a challenge in itself.

These days, online directories and customer reviews make it easier to pin down a decent realtor. However, before you decide on any particular agent, you should talk to them in person.

Here are five questions to ask a potential real estate agent before you entrust them with selling your property.

1 – What do your experience and qualifications look like?

First off, quiz any potential agent on their detailed experience and their formal qualifications.

At the very least, you should ask them how long they have been working as an agent in your area.

Find out whether they work in real estate full- or part-time. This gives you an indication of your agents’ availability in case you have any questions.

Also ask if an agent can offer any client references.

2 – What’s your experience with my market?

Selling a country cottage is one thing. Putting a city flat on the market is an entirely different cup of tea.

Depending on your location and the kind of home you’re selling, buyer preferences, effective marketing strategies, and price ranges can differ dramatically.

An agent who knows the local market inside out can make a huge difference, so that’s a large point in their favour.

3 – What’s your listing performance?

Ask your realtor about their listing statistics.

How long do their listings usually sit on the market before they close a sale? On average, homes are listed between 46 and 55 days. Anything significantly longer – or shorter – should ring alarm bells.

Similarly, dig into the agent’s list-to-price ratio. This metric compares the prices for which properties were listed to the prices for which they were ultimately sold. To a certain extent, these ratios depend on your local market, but you should be wary of anything lower than 90%.

Together, these numbers give you some helpful insight into the agent’s pricing, marketing, and negotiating skills.

4 – What’s your plan for listing my property?

Once you’re convinced by an agents’ general experience and performance, ask them how they’d go about selling your property.

While it’s impossible for them to shake details out of their hat, of course, they should be able to give you a general idea. How will they go about listing properties and promoting them? How will showings work? What are their negotiating strategies?

There are a few areas to pay particular attention to. For example, they should be able to explain exactly how they come up with a listing price, and how they vet buyers.

Speaking of buyers, make sure to ask if the agent will be representing the buyers too. This is handy for the realtor, since they will receive double the commission. However, they’ll also have obligations towards the buyer – and won’t be able to negotiate as hard in your favour.

5 – What costs can I expect?

Finally, ask in depth about what costs you can expect throughout the selling process – and when.

Competent real estate agents should be able to estimate both the amounts and the time frame. Some costs will be upfront, though the total depends on the buyer’s offer.

Overall, a good agent should give you an overview of potential attorney fees, title fees, broker commissions, agent commissions, and appraisal fees, among others.

Going through all these points with a few agents will give you an idea of their individual competence – and how comfortable you feel with them personally. This way, you’ll gain an invaluable ally in the adventure of selling your property.

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