Buyers: Why hire a Realtor®?
7 Questions to Ask Potential Realtors
The process of buying a home can be a full-time job, so hiring a Realtor to do the heavy lifting can really be a huge benefit. Realtors have access to resources the public does not, so they can help you get the best home for the best price. It’s best to hire an agent who belongs to the National Association of Realtors to be sure that she is bound by a Code of Ethics. You can ask family, friends and colleagues, who have experience working with Realtors, for a referral. Once you find a potential Realtor, take time to interview her to see if this is the person you want working for you. Just as you are sizing up the Realtor, know that she will likely be interviewing you too. Be wary of Realtors who don’t ask you questions and probe for your motivation. You wouldn’t work with just any agent off the street, and a good Realtor will be just as selective about her clients, too.
Here are some good questions to ask a prospective Realtor:
1. How are you different from other Realtors? A good Realtor won’t hesitate to answer this question and will be ready to fire off why she is the right choice. Most home buyers say they are looking for Realtors who are:
- Honest and Trustworthy
- Assertive and Excellent Negotiators
- Available by phone, text, or e-mail
- Good Communicators
- Friendly and Good Sense of Humor
- Analytical and Driven
- Able to maintain composure under trying circumstances
2. Can I see/call your references? Every Realtor should have references. Even new agents have references from previous employers. When contacting references, ask how their experience was working with her. Were they pleased with the work she did? Was she easy to get in touch with? Did she keep them well informed? You want to be hearing positive feedback and find out how exactly the Realtor is different from others. Do they feel the Realtor helped them buy the right home for them within their budget and in a timely manner?
3. Are you familiar with my area of interest? It’s common for home buyers to have a specific area of interest or neighborhood where they would like to buy a home. Your area may have specific characteristics that your Realtor should know about. For example, if your area of interest is in Aksarben, she should know how to navigate possible issues that arise from older wiring in these houses. Some insurance companies won’t insure houses with fuses vs. circuit breakers, so your Realtor should have a plan to help you overcome this problem.
4. Will you be able to help me find professionals and services I need? Your Realtor should be able to supply a referral list of other real estate professionals that you may need such as lenders, home inspectors, contractors, and title companies. Good working relationships with other real estate professionals make the buying process much easier for you. Any referrals a Realtor provides shouldn't result in a financial benefit to the realtor. Make sure any referrals are based upon job ability and not because a kick-back is being dished out.
5. How much time will you dedicate to helping me buy a home? Hire a Realtor who treats real estate as a full-time career instead of a part-time job. Part-time agents typically don’t have adequate resources to help you buy your home in a timely manner. A Realtor with too few clients could signal that they don’t have much experience or haven’t been well recommended by previous clients. The flip side is to be careful of hiring a Realtor who is too busy. Working with a Realtor who is difficult to reach, constantly pushing the majority of work onto your lap or an administrative assistant's lap, and doesn’t have time to give you personal attention could lead to a frustrating experience for you. No one wants to be treated like they are just a number, especially when it comes to purchasing one of life’s biggest investments.
6. May I review documents beforehand that I will be asked to sign? A good Realtor should make forms available to you for preview before you are required to sign them. She should also take the time to educate you on the forms and why they’re important. If possible, ask to review these documents upfront:
- Agency Disclosure
- Purchase Agreement
- Estimated Cost Worksheet
7. How will you keep me updated during the buying process? In most relationships, communication is key. You need to know, up front, how your Realtor will keep you in the loop. Ask for details about how accessible she will be for you, since you’ll have questions and concerns throughout the home buying process. Find out whether she answers phone calls, texts, or emails in a timely fashion and verify this when you check her references. Have you heard of agents that say they’ll go research homes for you and then are never heard from again? You need to be kept aware of sales activity in your area of interest as well as changing market trends. You should know when other houses pop up for sale, when they go under contract, and for how much. Make sure you hire a Realtor who has a plan in place to make you an integral part of your home buying process.
Once you’ve selected a Realtor, schedule an initial meeting with her. This meeting should review the home-buying process, the costs involved with buying a home, a set of questions to better determine your wants and needs in your next home, and a review of possible homes for you to look at together.