Selling your home is a business transaction. Treat it that way. Don’t hire a real estate agent just because they are a relative or a friend of a friend. The relationship can get them on your short list, but don’t by-pass the interviewing process. I suggest interviewing three to five agents from different companies. Be upfront that you are talking to others when you set up the appointments. Ask each one the same questions; take notes. Get back to all of them the next day to let them know whether or not they were successful.
Here are the questions you should ask:
1. How many years have you been in business?
This is a warm-up question. The answers are interesting but not definitive. A less experienced agent may make up for lack of experience with enthusiasm and fresh ideas.
2. Are you a full time real estate agent?
Generally a full-time real estate agent would be a better choice because they are not just ‘dabbling.’
3. Do you have any client testimonials to show me?
Don’t omit checking references from recent customers. You need to know how other clients like yourself found their experience working with the agent.
4. Would you tell me about current market conditions?
This gives the candidate a chance to demonstrate their knowledge of the current market challenges and show how well he or she can communicate them to you in language you understand. There are both good and bad points to selling in almost any market and at any time of year. I would look for realistic, balanced answers.
5. What makes you different from your competitors? Why should I choose you to sell my home?
A real estate agent will sometimes offer special incentives, unique ways of marketing, extra touches to their service or have a great track record in selling your type of home.
6. What strategy will you use to market this home? What advertising media will you use and why?
The marketing strategy and the media used needs to be the best to reach your target market. For younger buyers, more emphasis would be on internet and social media. If your market is older seniors, print advertising might be what will reach them best. The main point is to see if the agent is in tune with the most likely buyers or using a ‘one size fits all’ strategy. By the way, one of the most effective ways of marketing is getting the word out to other agents. Look for a mention of how this will be accomplished.
7. How often will you update me?
If you and your real estate professional are not in agreement on this, it could be an indicator that you won’t be a good fit to work together.
8. How long do you think it will take to sell this house?
You are looking for some rational speculation but be skeptical if you get an absolute answer. It might signal over-confidence or perhaps a little to much spin on the truth.
9. What price would you list this house at? How much do you realistically think I can get? If the agent doesn’t back these answers up with data from comparable houses, both sold and currently on the market, ask how they came up with their answers. It is also good to compare which properties are included in the comparatives from one agent to the next. If the features of the selections are too different from your property they can skew the suggested price. It’s not all science.
Beware of any agent who tells you a overly high price. They might do it just to get your listing, counting on a price drop later.
10. What is your track record with houses in similar price range?
Here you want to know how many they listed, how many of their listings sold, and what percentage of the initial asking price was achieved. You want to know about real estate agents who routinely have price cuts on all their listings. The best strategy is to price as accurately as possible. If that is done there will be fewer instances of price cuts.
11. What is your commission rate? Is it negotiable? The idea is not to find the person with the lowest commission. In fact if their commissions are too low, and they do not offer the standard amount to buyer’s agents, you may not get all the showings you should. Cut rate agents may not be motivated to give you the same level of service.
One reason for the question is to see if they might have a little flexibility if necessary to close a deal. Also, their answer shows whether they believe they are worth what they are asking. You want a good negotiator, so let them demonstrate by negotiating their commission with you.
Download Interview Questions for Real Estate Agents in pdf format. You can print off one for each interview and use them for note taking if desired.