The best first step in finding a Realtor to represent you during your real estate transaction is to ask your family and friends who they have used. How was the experience? Would they recommend for you to use them? Asking around, you may find that you get lots of different names and all of them came with raving reviews. If that happens, I’ve got 9 key questions that you should ask every Realtor before you decide who to hire to help sell your home.
1. Are you a Realtor or a real estate agent?
All Realtors are real estate agents but not all real estate agents are Realtors. In order to legally practice real estate and guide consumers through real estate transactions a person must pass national and state licensing exams and keep up with a certain number of education courses. This is the bare minimum for a person to become a real estate agent. But there’s another important step that’s available to all real estate agents, and that’s to become a Realtor.
To become a Realtor, the agent must join the National Association of Realtors. Once they do this, they are automatically held to a higher standard and must follow the code of ethics as outlined by NAR. There are 17 articles in the code of ethics, and they are strictly enforced. Finding out if a real estate agent has committed to becoming a Realtor will tell you a lot about their work ethic, morals, and desire to serve you properly.
2. Do you work full-time or part-time as a real estate agent?
The amount of time a Realtor commits to their clients varies greatly. But there is much to be said about a Realtor having another job that distracts them from properly representing you in arguably the largest transaction of your life. A full-time Realtor will be able to answer your correspondence faster and focus on serving your best interests on a higher and more focused level.
3. Can you provide me with names and phone numbers of past clients who have agreed to be references?
It’s one thing to have a friend or family member recommend a Realtor to you, but it’s entirely another if the Realtor doesn’t have any past clients that are willing to vouch for them after a transaction. This is rare, but consider it a red flag if the Realtor you’re interviewing can’t provide to you at least three past clients that are willing to speak with you about their experience.
4. What is your advertising and marketing plan for my house?
This is one of the most important questions that you can ask a Realtor. It’s something that’s almost always covered during the initial listing presentation. If they brush over it too quickly, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Watch for ways that they plan to market and sell your home that cater specifically to your property and neighborhood. This will tell you that they’ve done their due diligence and made a plan specifically for you and your family. Any Realtor who creates a custom marketing plan for each home is one you can trust to perform on their promises to sell your home.
5. Can you explain the selling process to me?
Asking this question has a compounding effect. It will give you an idea of how well this Realtor can articulate the process and help you understand the inner-workings of the sale of your home. This is important because you don’t know what you don’t know. A Realtor’s willingness to take extra time to help you understand the road ahead speaks volumes to the level of service they’re committed to providing to you.
6. What sets you apart from other agents?
The amount of real estate agents in and around the Rochester area is staggering, but the ones worth hiring will know exactly how to answer this question. Pay attention to how they answer this question and where their focus is while doing so. An honest and successful Realtor will give you a concise answer with confidence.
7. How will you keep me informed about progress?
By asking this question you’ll find out what their communication style is, how much they care about your “experience,” and if they even have a communication plan. Realtors are very busy individuals and you’re undoubtedly not their only client, so having a communication plan is imperative. Use this as an opportunity to voice your concerns and make it known how you expect to be communicated with.
8. What is your philosophy on price reductions?
The answer to this question is important to you because list price and sale price can be two very different things. Just because a Realtor is telling you that your home will sell for a certain price and you list at that price certainly does not mean they won’t come back in two to four weeks and ask you to reduce the asking price if your home hasn’t sold yet.
No Realtor has a crystal ball and it’s impossible to guarantee that a home will sell for X amount of dollars. Nevertheless, a good Realtor will have a plan for the event that your home hasn’t sold within a certain period of time.
9. What else haven’t I asked you that I need to know?
This is one of the best questions that you can ask and not just at the initial meeting, but throughout the entire selling process. Realtors handle real estate transactions day in and day out so it’s easy for them to forget to explain small details. They’re also doing hundreds of small tasks behind the scenes that you’re unaware of. These small tasks are usually not talked about simply because it’s the Realtor’s job to handle them so you don’t have to. But a good Realtor will take time to educate and inform you upfront about what’s happening and continue this throughout the entire transaction.