Did you notice we didn't say Questions to Ask a Realtor?
There's a reason for that, not ALL Real Estate Agents are Realtors, it's unusual if they're not, but "Realtor" is in fact a designation (and probably another post in itself) although it's not required to sell real estate it's a good qualifier to find the best of the best right off the bat.
So what are the biggest fears (well justified in many cases) for most home owners when they're considering selling their home?
- That the Agent will say anything to get the listing and then just let it sit without doing anything, just waiting for some other agent to find a buyer.
- That it'll take a long time to sell and I’ll lose the house I want to buy as a result.
- I won’t get maximum value for my house
A Seller’s Worst Nightmare!
This is probably a seller’s worst nightmare, that they hire an agent only to find out after the fact, they’re from the “List ‘em and Leave ‘em… for someone else to sell” school of Real Estate.
Selling your home is a huge deal (pardon the pun) in anyone’s book, so it’s important to ask the right questions before you make your decision about who is going to be “Your Real Estate Agent”.
So here you are, just thinking about selling your house and already you’re faced with a hurdle – “What questions should you ask to help you find the right agent for you?” We’ve put together a few pointers that should help set you off on the right track.
Taking it one step further, we’ve gone on to explain why you should ask these questions (some are obvious but some not so much) and also offer a little insight to help you better evaluate the responses you might get.
Questions You Should Ask an Agent – before you hire them!
1) How long have you been actively working in Real Estate?
This one’s pretty obvious – experience counts. Now we’re not unreasonable and we can appreciate that everyone was new at some point, but there are steps an agent can take to supplement their lack of experience while they work to attain it for themselves.
From your perspective though, you want to be sure that your agent is committed to and focused on getting your house sold for you ASAP. If they’re new to or they’ve been out of the market for a while that’s an indicator they’re probably not serious.
2) Is Real Estate your primary source of income?
This is another qualifier that speaks to an agent’s commitment and dedication level. If someone is “moonlighting” as a real estate agent they’re less likely to have the network and contacts to tap into in order to get the word out on your listing. If they’re busy working another job their availability to market and show your home has to be limited. You want an agent who is willing and able to dedicate their time and focus to getting prospective buyers into your home – very few homes sell sight-unseen!
3) Do you personally respond to all inquiries on your listings?
This may seem like a crazy question but you’d be surprised there are agents out there who don’t answer their own phones and email. Many agents have assistants to help with the daily tasks required for an active real estate practice.
The real purpose of this question is to find out who buyer’s or their agents would be speaking with in regard to inquiries on your home. You want an agent who answers their phone and email themselves to ensure that any active inquiry gets the best, most accurate response from someone who is both qualified and motivated to secure a viewing as soon as possible.
4) What are our options if we're not happy with results?
No matter how hard we try sometimes things just don’t work out as we hope or expect them to, in that case you need to know you’re working with someone who is willing to address your issues and concerns, quickly, efficiently and to your satisfaction.
Don’t however, just look for an agent who will say “You can cancel at any time” that’s the hallmark of a “List ‘em & Leave ‘em” mindset. What you really want is an agent who will sit down with you to re-evaluate what the issues may be and they could be anything from lack of an active marketing program to your house is messy and does not show well.
It’s essential that you’re able to be realistic and honest with both yourself and your agent. Look for an agent who will listen, discuss and explain the process. Be honest about your thoughts and concerns and look for ways to work toward the result you want before throwing in the towel and starting over with “another unknown”.
5) How do you handle viewing times/scheduling conflicts?
Buyers are often limited as to when they can view a home, if it’s a family there may be multiple schedules to co-ordinate before a viewing appointment can be set. A successful sale will depend on successful viewings and sometimes it may take several before a buyer is ready to submit an offer.
You need an agent who is willing and able to work with other people’s schedules (within reason of course) not only to show your home but also to help with the necessary appraisal and inspection appointments that have to be completed after the initial offer to get the deal to closing.
6) What systems will you use to communicate during the listing and sale process?
In a world where it seems every 14 year old has their own Smartphone these days, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect an active real estate professional to have multiple ways to communicate with you throughout the process.
You need an agent who not only has a Smartphone but that they know how to use it to keep you posted as things progress toward closing. Mobile phone, email, text, website they’re all part of a well organized agent’s communication tool-kit. Ask if they have systems in place or automated follow up emails to ensure nothing falls through the cracks on the way from offer to closing.
7) Where can I see testimonials from recent past clients?
Most agents (especially those who’re actively working/selling) are going to have testimonials on their website or available on request.
The best way to evaluate an agent is to ask previous clients right? In most cases this is a good place to start, but obviously no-one is going to post or provide the name or comments of someone who was unhappy with their services. So what are some other ways you can get an accurate representation of how good an agent really is?
The most effective way to evaluate an agent is to ask about their recent sales activity. An even better question may be to ask how long were those homes were on the market – be sure to get a realistic perspective on that though, by asking what the average number of days on market was for homes in the price range during the same period.
8) Are you actively involved with your local Real Estate Board and Associations?
You’ve heard the old saying “It’s not WHAT you know – it’s WHO you know”, there’s likely not another field where that saying rings more true.
Agent’s talk, they talk all the time (as the Geico people say… its what they do) to other agents, to appraisers, to home inspectors, to builders and handymen and caddy at the golf course, the list goes on and you should look to work with an agent who is “connected”.
9) Have you held any association or community positions that increase your reach and/or influence in the local market?
This is exactly who you want selling your house for you – someone who is connected in the Real Estate world and in your local community.
When an agent has a history within the local Realtor’s Association they'll likely have a few contacts at any time who are actively looking for the right property for a Buyer client. They’ll make it their business to know the very best buyer agents.
They’ll know who properly pre-qualifies their buyers, who’s deals fall apart and why. They’ll also know which agents deals typically go through, where the stumbling blocks are and how to avoid them.
10) What do you do differently to take advantage of the most up to date marketing strategies?
It’s easy to think you simply list a house, get it on the MLS and wait for Buyer Agent’s to bring their folks around – another classic List ‘em and Leave ‘em mindset mistake.
You want an agent who is taking advantage of technology and Social Media, not exclusively, but as an integral part of a comprehensive marketing strategy to seek out, target and attract buyers to your specific listing.
BONUS - What makes Parker-Petrop the best Agents to sell my house?
Personal and professional knowledge of the Williamsburg market – we are both long-time residents of Williamsburg VA and we’ve built a strong, well respected Real Estate business by combining our respective skills and providing extraordinary service.
Specific targeted marketing strategy – we create a specific, targeted marketing strategy for each property based on the home’s size, location, architectural style, neighborhood and amenities offered.
Network & contacts – we are both active members of the Williamsburg Area Association of Realtors, with ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative), SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) designations.
Proven Results – we’ve both been in Real Estate in Williamsburg for a long time. We formed a team to combine our skill sets and chose to work under the umbrella of Liz Moore & Associates which gives us access to an even larger pool of talent and resources. We know we’re uniquely positioned to provide the very best service for our clients and we delight in our history of having done so.
If you’ve seen and heard enough already and you’d like to get the ball rolling with a Comparative Market Analysis please use the form in the right sidebar to contact us and we’ll get started right away.