Not all real estate agents are the same. If you decide to seek the help of an agent when selling or buying your home, you need some good information before you make any moves.
An agent can cost or save you thousands of dollars.
Picking an agent is one of those critical issues that can cost or save you thousands of dollars. There are very specific questions you should be asking to ensure that you get the best representation for your needs. Some agents may prefer that you don't ask these questions, since the knowledge you'll gain from their honest answers will give you a very good idea about what outcome you can expect from using them as an agent. And let's face it - in real estate, as in life - not all things are created equal. Hiring a real estate agent is just like any hiring process - with you on the boss's side of the desk. It's critical that you make the right decision about who will handle what since this is probably the single largest financial investment you will ever make.
10 Questions to Ask Any Agent
#1 - DIFFERENCE What makes you different? Why should I list my home with you?
It's a much tougher real estate market than it was a decade ago. What unique marketing plans and programs does this agent have in place to make sure that your home stands out favorably versus other competing homes? What things does this agent offer you that others don't help you sell your home in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle and for the most amount of money?
#2 - TRACK RECORD What are your company's track record and reputation in the marketplace?
It may seem like everywhere you look, real estate agents are boasting about being #1 for this or that, or quoting you the number of homes they've sold. If you're like many homeowners, you've probably become immune to much of this information. After all, you ask, "Why should I care about how many homes one agent sold over another. The only thing I care about is whether they can sell my home quickly for the most amount of money. Well, because you want your home sold fast and for top dollar, you should be asking the agents you interview how many homes they have sold. I'm sure you will agree that success in real estate is selling homes. If one agent is selling a lot of homes where another is selling only a handful, ask yourself why this might be? What things are these two agents doing differently? You may be surprised to know that many agents sell fewer than 10 homes a year. This volume makes it difficult for them to do full impact marketing on your home because they can't raise the money it takes to afford the advertising and special programs to give your home a high profile. Also, at this low level, they probably can't afford to hire an assistant, which means that they're running around trying to do all the components of the job themselves. The bottom line, their service to you may suffer.
#3 - MARKETING What are your marketing plans for my home?
How much money does this agent spend in advertising the homes s/he lists versus the other agents you are interviewing? In what media (newspaper, magazine, TV, etc.) does this agent advertise? What does s/he know about the effectiveness of one medium over the other?
#4 - SALES What has your company sold in my area?
Agents should bring you a complete listing of both their own and other comparable sales in your area.