Before You Hire A Real Estate Agent, Ask These Questions
Selling or buying a home can be a daunting task for many. Luckily, real estate professionals have been through the process many times and can help you navigate each step. Below is a list of questions that you should ask any agent you are considering hiring.
Are you a full time real estate agent?
Agents who work part-time often aren’t available at certain times. Confirm that your agent’s working hours align with times you would be available to view prospective homes and that they are dedicating enough time to their real estate business. A part-time agent could be a good thing, as they often have fewer clients, meaning more attention to you despite only working part-time. But, if their other job is a 9-5, they could be unavailable to deal with issues that arise when they need to be.
How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?
Every neighborhood is different, and often the agent your friend referred you to can be very familiar with one neighborhood but not at all with one you may be interested in. Make sure the agent you choose has done some business in the areas that interest you, or at the least that they are very familiar with the area – just because they haven’t done a deal there yet does not mean they do not have local knowledge!
How many sellers and/or buyers are you representing now?
Some believe a busier agent is a sign of a better agent, while others think that an agent with less clients may give you better attention. I personally believe there is a “sweet spot” in the middle somewhere. Be sure to determine the activity level of your agent, and then decide for yourself which you prefer.
Are your fees negotiable?
By law, agent fees are negotiable. That does not mean, however, that the agent is required to accept a rate lower than their personal standard. As a buyer, the seller pays the agent, making their service free to you! As a seller, your agent may give a reduced rate if they were to find the buyer themselves or if you plan to purchase your next home through them after selling. Just ask! And, beware of agents who offer discounted rates just to get business!
What price do you believe my house will sell for, in what amount of time, and why?
An agent should not only be able to provide what they believe your house will sell for but also how long they anticipate it would take based on current market conditions. Most importantly, they should be able to tell you why and have market data to prove it. The agent should provide you with comparables, or “comps”, to demonstrate exactly how they arrived at their price opinion. I say “opinion”, because it’s rare that every house in a market is identical, and so pricing a home is not a science; it’s an art!
How long have you been in real estate and what education have you received?
Ask your agent how long they have been in the business, how long they have lived in the area, and where they received their real estate training. An agent’s time in the business isn’t necessarily a direct reflection of whether they are a good agent or not, but it can help you make that determination. Other considerations may include that they have lived in a particular community for a long period of time, potentially giving them more insight than a 20-year veteran agent that is new to the area.
Is your license currently active? Have you ever had any consumer complaints?
In Florida, you can obtain this information on your own by going to www.myfloridalicense.com. If an agent’s license is not active, it is illegal for them to conduct any real estate business for compensation.
Do you recommend home staging or rearranging of my current furniture?
Agents differ in opinion on the value of home staging. Ask your agent their thoughts. It may be that they simply think that removing clutter and rearranging your current furniture would be more than enough to aid in the sale. Homes that are filled with clutter, tons of personal items or photos, or mis-matched furniture will hurt the buyer’s ability to picture themselves and their furniture in the home. In my opinion, vacant homes that are staged sell must faster and for more money.
When can I expect to hear from you?
An agent should give you regular updates, even if there isn’t’ any major news to share. They should also set expectations of their availability. Some consumers have the idea that agents work 24/7 (which is sometimes the case!), and are upset when their agent doesn’t return a call on a Sunday or Monday. Discuss with your agent what hours that they keep so that you don’t have to be concerned that you didn’t hear back from them on what you didn’t know what their day off.
May I see the documents I will have to sign?
It’s generally my policy to share blank contracts with my buyers and sellers at our first meeting. I encourage them to read through everything so that when it comes time to execute a contract, they have already read the “fine print” and don’t hold things up. Also, feel free to ask your agent any questions about the contract after you have read through it to make sure you fully understand what your responsibilities are in a sale.
How much can I expect to pay in closing costs?
This is a big one, as many consumers don’t realize the costs of selling their home. I recommend that you ask your agent to provide a Preliminary HUD, which would show you what amount would be yours to keep after all costs are paid.
Walk me through a typical deal, step by step?
Whether buying or selling, it’s wise to know the process before you get started, especially to be aware of could go wrong. Every deal is different, and sometimes “surprises” pop up. Your Realtor should be able to give you a pretty straight forward, step by step, summary of the selling or buying process, but also give some examples of unexpected situations that could arise so that you aren’t completely caught off guard.
Want to ask an agent these questions (or more)? Contact Pineywoods Realty today at (813) 225-1890!