Home Buying in Hoboken>Question Details

HomeinWallin…, Home Buyer in Brick, NJ

Is it customary for a buyer to "interview" a few agents?

Asked by HomeinWallington, Brick, NJ Fri Mar 9, 2012

I am a relatively motivated first-time buyer looking for a place in Hoboken. I decided to "interview" a few agents in hopes of finding someone I felt comfortable working with. I started my pre-approval process already but just needed to gather a few more documents. I have been forthcoming with all of the agents about my intention to find the right agent for me. It surprised me that one particular agent got quite upset when she found out that I was "interviewing" agents.

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It doesn't seem very customary, but in all honesty it should be. I would say 9 out of 10 buyers do not interview agents, at least not in depth. Most buyers seem to just pick the first agent referred to them. Although, we recently had a buyer give us the most in depth interview we've ever had, and I thought it was awesome. I think all buyers should do this. The buyer should feel comfortable with the agents knowledge and experience, as well as making a personal connection.

Our in depth interview from that buyer actually made me think about a lot of ways we can improve our business. We ended up getting the buyer and beating out one of the top agents in our area. :) They said the top agent seemed cocky, rude, and was semi-offensive about their first time home buyer ignorance.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 10, 2012
In ten years I only recall ever being interview once, and to be honest it was a bizarre experience. The kind of questions I was being asked weren't the kind of questions that would necessarily be the best in determining how good an agent is. And to be honest it made me afraid to want to work with them as buyers based on some of the questions.

For example, if you ask an agent how many listings they have and it seems like alot - does that mean they are too busy to really give you the attention you need ? Or that they are going to know about things that come up before they hit the market that might be perfect for you and you get to see first ? Or they have none at all, but because of that are committed to spending every minute they have finding you something ?

The newbie Realtor with alot of heart and enthusiasm can be as good as the seasoned veteran in many cases. A newer agent might have more energy to take you 40-50 properties but they won't know the laws and process as well. A seasoned agent not give you the attention you need because they are busier and spread thin ? Or they or so good with a system in place they can avoid you seeing that many properties because they know what you want! But what if *YOU* need to see that many because you haven't figured out what you want yet.

It depends on what you are looking for in an agent and how loaded those questions are. There are many questions you can ask, but the answer isn't necessarily black and white.

What if you interview someone that answers everything well, but you just don't click with them ? I personally think the most important thing is your connection with the person. Do they know how to listen and understand what you are looking for. Some of that comes from personality, some from experience. But you can have experience but a terrible personality? I would suggest going to open houses and simply talking to different agents informally. Do they seem knowledgeable ? Do they seem like someone you wouldn't mind spending many long afternoons with ?

I agree with Dale that you should not make part of the 'interview' process having them show you properties. That is wasting the time off all those involved.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
When I was a first-time homebuyer I relied on referrals and I was not happy with my choice. It was the biggest investment in my life and my Realtor did not even come to my closing. Here are a few questions you can use in your interview?

Are you a buyer's agent? If yes, what experience have you had as a Buyer's Agent?
What specific training do you have as a buyer's agent?
Does your office have ongoing sales meetings on ways to benefit buyer clients?
How long have you worked on the buyer's side?
How long did you work on the seller's side?
Do you also list houses for sale?
Do agents in your office list homes for sale? If yes, how do you plan on keeping my information separate from seller's agents in your office? Do you have a private office? Private phone service?
Do you have regular office meetings to discuss the market and techniques in real estate? If yes, do your sales meetings focus on ways to get the best price and terms for sellers, for buyers or for both?
Will you sign a guarantee that you represent my interests exclusively and not attempt to sell houses you or your partner list?
What geographical areas are you most knowledgeable about?
Do you have full access to the area Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?
What is your fee structure? Will you give that to me, in writing?
Who pays your commission?
Will you make decisions about what homes to show me without regard to co-fees offered to cooperating agents on MLS listings?
How many homes are you prepared to show me?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 10, 2012
You are absolutely within your rights to interview as many agents as you wish and for an agent to get upset that you've been honest and told them this upfront is reason enough to kick that agent to the curb. Their repsonse was not only unprofessional it shows a complet lack of people skills and ignorance.

I've attached a link below to a fairly recent blog I posted here on Trulia on how to find a great agent,

I wish you good luck and happy house hunting.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 10, 2012
Picking a Realtor®; you should interview several Realtors® before making a decision. Do not solely rely on a referral! Do the work yourself and interview several. Here’s a short check list of questions to ask & things to consider:
1) The paperwork involved in this process is extremely complicated, having stated this It is important that a Realtor be “practiced at our trade” pick a Realtor® which has completed 15+ transactions the previous year
2) Interview 3-5 full time Realtors® (very few part-time agents have the same skills as a person who works Real Estate on a full time basis)
3) Do a basic back ground check on your Realtor® use a site like PIPL or just goggle their name, this usually turns up items such as lawsuits, bankruptcies or other items which you feel might interfere or conflict with a Realtor® representing your best interest. Ps: this does not work for a John Smith
4) Once you have interviewed your potential Realtors® and if you are still unsure and want a “trail run” sign an exclusive buyers agency for 48 hours with the Realtor® and explain if all goes well in the beginning then you will be willing to commit for 1- 3 months.
5) Work with a Realtor® which is local to your area. Meaning a 10-20 mile radius, they will know the schools, shopping and the growth potential of the area without having to go look it up!

Before you even start this process consider purchasing the book by Dave Ramsey “The Total Money Makeover” this will provide valuable information in regard to having a successful financial life & make a prudent home purchase!

That’s your list! Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 10, 2012
I applaud you for going about your home search in a business-like manner. The majority of buyers either are referred by friends or run into a Realtor at an open house or see an ad. These days, many contact the agent after seeing a home online.

As long as you don't ask the agent to spend a lot of prep time before your 'interview', there shouldn't be a problem. You're going to spend a lot of time with your agent during the search, negotiation and through the closing. It's important that you can get along and respect your Realtor's expertise.

Good luck in your search!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
This is common sense. If you were purchasing a new car, would you only go to one dealer? If any agent ever gets upset with you, it's time to move on. If they can't handle the pressure of an interview, how can they handle anything else.

As mentioned, this is something that typically doesn't happen but absolutely should.
Web Reference: http://www.matames.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
Absolutely! There should be a good working relationship between you and the agent. It will be more efficient to do this now than to spend time looking at houses first and then have either you firing the agent or the agent firing you.

You just eliminated one who was upset. Obviously that's not one that would work for either one of you.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
I've had multiple interviews with sellers, but I have to agree with Matt. I have never had a buyer "interview" me, but I also agree that it's not such a bad idea! I have had several buyers tell me in they worked with another agent and the chemistry just wasn't there. They felt they waisted a lot of time in their search. I, personally, would only be "upset" if you didn't disclose to me that you were interviewing other agents.
Good luck in your search!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
It's not customary for buyers to interview buyer's agents but it's a great idea! I've been a top producing real estate agent in Hoboken and Jersey City for 9 years and have been interviewed to be a buyers agent less than 5 times! Each time I was interviewed, I felt like the interviewing buyers were smart for doing their homework and taking the time to make sure the agent was best suited to help them. If you're looking for a buyer's agent, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Matt Brown, SVP
Halstead Property New Jersey LLC
201.805.7403 (m) 201.478.6709 (o) 973.556.1361 (efax)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012

Not only is it customary, it is highly advisable to interview a few Agents before deciding on which to work with. As Karina mentioned, there are hundreds of agents... some part-time, some full-time, etc.

A buyer's Agent works for you, the buyer, on finding you one of the most important investments you'll ever make. It would be unwise not to interview Agents. Find one that is knowledgeable, and most importantly one you are comfortable with. Also, it is not uncommon to ask for references... any good Agent will be happy to supply you with them.

Good luck!

Chris Amberg
Weichert Realtors
Exchange Place Office
Cell: 917-428-8317
NJAR Circle of Excellence Gold 2011
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
Dear Homebuyer,

It is certainly your right to interview agents, as long as you do it properly and certainly before they start showing you property. The question is how have you conducted your interview process. If you were giving them an on the job interview such as having them show you properties as a part of the interview process then I would say that would come across as problematic to the agent and perhaps problematic for you if you later decide you like a property that you saw 3 agents ago. An interview with an agent should be to see if they come across as knowledgeable about the market you wish to purchase in, completely understand the dynamics of today's lending market, as well as their ability to guide a buyer and a transaction to closing. I would also make sure that the agent is consistently closing transactions in your desired market area. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have further questions.

Dale Fior
Liberty Realty
2011 NJAR Gold Producer
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
Hello Homeinhoboken, yes it is very wise for you to interview a few agents, just as Darren said. I'm glad you are doing this, some buyer's just work with the first person they meet at the first office they walk into.

This is a small town with many real estate offices and hundred's of agents, but not all agents and not all offices are the same.

You should speak with and meet a few agents. See how they work, what their experience level is, commitment level, office reputation, testimonials and who surrounds them. Good agents will want to interview you as well and see if you both can be a good fit together.

I think as more websites like Trulia provide information for consumers such as yourself to learn at your own pace, many more buyers will be educated and learn to meet with more than one agent before deciding who they will team up with and commit to.

I would also recommend that when the time comes you speak to 2 - 3 mortgage professionals and 2 attorney's. Your realtor will recommend vendors that they have experience with and feel confident recommending, for example the vendors that I refer, I have personally used help me buy and sell my properties.

Best of luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
Hi Homeinhoboken,

It's actually smart to interview Agents before deciding on one that you like. This is the biggest purchase of your life, it's important to feel comfortable in the process. Ask them about ther history, their communication style, knowledge of the area you are looking and what kind of Team they have around them (Mortgage Broker, Attorney, Home Inspector, etc) to help close.

If you have any other questions, feel free to call me. I would love to work with you.

Best Regards,

Darren Giordano
Prime Real Estate Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
Yes! You should certainly interview a few agents and decide who you have the best rapport with, in addition to who you feel will guide you through this process in the most helpful and knowledgeable way. I have a top agent in the Hoboken area to refer you to, if you would like to send me an email.


Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
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