Most consumers will interview a few real estate agents before they decide to list their home with a brokerage. Just like you are interviewing agents, they will be interviewing you as well. Be cautious of real estate agent that don't ask you questions about your motivation or why you are selling. Just like you don't want to work with just any agent that comes calling. Good real estate agent will be selective about the clients that they work with as well.
When you interview agents, this can be done over the phone, but a good agent will probably want to meet you at your home. They will want to see your home and what it looks like so they can offer advice and be able to answer your questions about the property if you have them. Another thing to be careful of is any agent that does not want to be interviewed, or speaks down about the competition instead of about themselves and the brokerage they work for. You don't want to make the process a long in depth interrogation but you will want to ask a few questions so that you can judge an agent's ability to get the job done.
Here are some top questions to ask a listing agent:
1) How Long Have You Been in the Business?
The running joke is, "There's nothing wrong with a new agent that a little experience won't fix". Not to say that a new agent won't be a good one, everyone starts some place. Much depends on the training they have taken and the level of mentorship that they have access to. Newer agents typically have more time to devote to you and your home sale, if they are a full time agent. Some people get into the business part time and may be holding down another job until they can get going, and this may be an issue if something comes up and it needs to be addressed quickly and they are unavailable. Feel free to ask about this as well.
Real estate schools teach agents the laws and regulations involved in a real estate transaction, they do not cover how to handle the myriad of issues that will arise during a home sale. Agents learn how to handle these things on the job. The more sales an agent has completed the more likely they are to have encountered your situation before and know how to handle it. It's even possible that they have taken courses and attended seminars, and it's OK to ask about this, too. New real estate agents can make up for having the direct knowledge of how to handle situations by having access to competent Mentors that have seen the situations arise before.
2) What Is Your Average List-Price-To-Sales-Price Ratio?
An agent's average ratio depends on the market. Excluding sizzling seller's markets, a good buyer's agent should be able to negotiate a sales price that's lower than list price. A competent listing agent should have a track record for negotiating sales prices that are very close to list prices. Listing agents should have higher ratios that are closer to 100 percent. Buyer's agent ratios should fall below 99 percent. Sometimes market value has no bearing on the asking price and ratios are meaningless in that case so don't put too much emphasis on them. You might also want to find out just where most of these homes were located. Is the agent familiar with the area in which you want to buy or where your property is located? This can be an important consideration.
3) What Is Your Best Marketing Plan or Strategy for My Needs?
As a seller, you'll want to know exactly how the agent will sell your home. Is a direct mail campaign appropriate? Why or why not? Where and how often do they advertise? What kind of photography do they offer? Do they market online? What steps will they take to prepare your home for sale? Most important, ask if there's anything about your home that they think might detract from its potential for sale. You could possibly remedy and avert the problem.
4) What Are the Top Things That Separate You From Your Competition?
A good agent won't hesitate to answer this question and should be ready to fire off several reasons why they are best suited for the job. Everyone has their own standards, but most consumers say they're looking for agents who say they're honest, trustworthy, assertive, and excellent negotiators. they might tell you that they are always available by phone or e-mail or that he's a good communicator. they might indicate that they friendly and able to maintain his sense of humor under trying circumstances—and there will be some. It all comes down to the characteristics and qualifications that you value most.
5) How Will You Help Me Find Other Professionals?
Your agent should be able to supply you with a list of referring vendors such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors, and title companies and any other professionals that you might need. Let them explain who they work with and why they choose these particular professionals. Ask for an explanation if you see the term "affiliated" anywhere because this could mean that the agent and her broker are receiving compensation from one or all of these vendors. You could be paying a premium for the service.
6) What Kind of Guarantee Do You Offer?
Will the agent let you cancel the listing or buying agreement if you sign then later realize that you're unhappy with the arrangement? Will the agent stand behind his service to you? What's his company's policy about canceled agreements? Has anybody ever canceled an agreement with him before?
7) What Haven't I Asked You That I Need to Know?
Pay close attention to how the real estate agent answers this question because there's often something else you might need to know. You want an agent who will take their time with you to make sure you feel comfortable and secure with her knowledge and experience. They should know how to listen, how to counsel you, and how to ask the right questions to find out what they needs to know to better serve you.