Hiring a realtor is an important part of buying or selling a home. If you’ve never worked with a realtor before, the process of hiring one can seem confusing and daunting. There are some key questions to ask when you’re choosing a realtor that can increase your odds of hiring the right person and having a positive experience. Don’t forget to ask these 7 questions before you hire a realtor.
How long have you been a real estate agent? It’s important to know how established in the business your prospective agent is. Sure, everyone is new at their career at some point. But if you are working with a new agent, you want to know that and take it into account. Ideally, you’ll be able to find an agent with several years in the industry, and in your area, to work with.
Are you a full-time real estate agent? Some agents work full time in real estate, while others do it alongside another full- or part-time gig. Finding someone who is a full-time agent gives you a better chance of finding someone who has the availability and flexibility you will need as you go through the buying or selling process. An active full-time agent is also more likely to be tapped into the local market, as well as up to date on any laws and regulations that impact real estate deals.
Is your license up to date? If the realtor says their license is not up to date, that’s an automatic dealbreaker. You want to work with someone who has a current license not just because working with a licensed realtor means you’re working with someone who is up to date on current laws, regulations, and procedures, but because working with an unlicensed realtor is illegal. Individuals can buy or sell their own real estate without a license, but third parties must be licensed. Don’t hire a realtor who can’t show you a current, valid license.
How many other clients are you representing at this time? Knowing this gives you the chance to set reasonable expectations on how much time your realtor will have to devote to you and your sale/purchase. But don’t be immediately turned off by a realtor with a big caseload! The most active agents tend to be the ones who are most in the know, most up to date on laws and regulations, and to have the widest network of professional relationships. If you realtor has a heavy caseload, follow up by asking about their schedule, availability, and what expectations for time devoted to your case are reasonable.
How many homes did you help people buy (or sell) in the past year? This is a key question. A realtor can show homes to many people, but actually closing the deal is another question altogether. Ask your prospective realtor how many buyers and sellers they represented, and how many of those deals were actually closed. A realtor with a heavy client load but few completed deals might indicate that this person is not your best bet.
Can you provide me references from the last 5 clients you represented? Satisfied buyers and sellers should be willing to offer a reference for their realtor. Learning about other clients’ experiences with a realtor can also help you determine whether that particular realtor is a good fit for you. You may also be able to find reviews of your realtor online, but asking directly for references from their most recent clients is likely to be more useful.
Along with you, who else will I be working with? Some realtors work solo, but others are part of a team. Ask who else you can expect to be working with, and what each of those people does. While there’s nothing wrong with a realtor working as part of a team, the realtor you actually hire should be the one to do most of the work with you. Ask what services the realtor (and their team) offers, what communication looks like (frequency and with whom), and ask to meet the others you’ll be working with.