Home Buying in San Ramon>Question Details

Chris Pandy, Other/Just Looking in San Ramon, CA

Questions to ask while considering a RE agent

Asked by Chris Pandy, San Ramon, CA Tue Dec 30, 2008

I am planning to sign an agreement with an RE agent, may I know the list of questions to ask? so I won't be trapped.

Help the community by answering this question:


Here is a list that should get you started …

1. How long have you been in business?
2. Is this your full-time job, or do you have another gig on the side?
3. Do you have any designations?
4. Have you won any awards? What is special about any awards you may have received?
5. Are you a member of the local MLS, C.A.R and N.A.R.?
6. Do you require a buyer/broker agreement?
7. Will I be required to pay you anything to represent me if the home I choose to purchase does not provide a full commission to you?
8. Will you require me to pay a transaction coordinator fee or some similar “transaction” fee?
9. Do you have an assistant? Will you be the person dealing with me through the entire process and resulting transaction?
10. Have many homes have you personally sold in the past year? Not your team or office – you.
11. How many REO sales have you closed in the past 12 months?
12. How many short sales have you closed in the past 12 months?
13. What is your ratio of sellers to buyers for the past year?
14. How many buyers are you working with right now?
15. How will you actively search for homes that meet my parameters?
16. Will you function as a dual agent?
17. Do you have client references from this past year?
18. What are the top few things that differentiate you from the rest of the pack of Realtors out there?
19. Will you carefully explain every aspect of every document to me as required?
20. How will you actively educate me in the buying process?
21. Do you have a comprehensive network of inspectors, tradespersons, etc.?
22. What happens when I Google your name?
23. What is your strategy for recommending a purchase price for nay home I am interested in?
24. What if we don’t click or mesh? How can I stop using you and move on to someone else?
25. Will you be OK if I use my own lender?
26. How do you prefer to communicate? Phone? Text? Email?
27. How quickly can I expect an answer once I call you? During what hours can I call you and expect an answer?
28. Do you offer any kind of a guarantee?

Let me know if you have any questions about any of these. And be cautious of Realtor Awards – it’s possible to get some awards by simply showing up. Don’t be impressed with words like “top-producer” or “Diamond” or “President’s” this or that. Find out exactly what the award they received means and how it compares with other Realtors.
Web Reference: http://www.carlmedford.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 30, 2008
Nola's comments show what a poor view some of the general public have of real estate agents. And unfortunately they don't know the difference between real estate agents and Realtors. A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors. All real estate agents are not Realtors (although I think most are in our area).

As Carl so rightly points out, a Realtor is bound by a code of ethics. Fiduciary responsibility means that the client's interests come first. It is similar to the relationship between an attorney and his client.

Nola, you seem to suggest that an agent representing a buyer will push for a high offer rather than a low one, simply to get more commission. This is such a ludicrous idea. An extra $20,000 or so on the price would make such a small amount of difference to the agent that it is virtually irrelevant.

When an agent suggests a price to offer, it may be higher than the figure the buyer first considered. Have you considered that this is because the agent expects a lower price to be rejected? I have been in the unfortunate situation only this month where I wrote an offer for a buyer on a home only to find that we were in a multiple offer situation (yes, even in this market) and we lost out.. If we had written at a higher price, we would have been successful. The amount of commission involved never even entered my mind.

Yes, there are bad apples in every barrel but I have been involved in transactions with many different agents over the years and I can say with certainty that 90% or more of them are completely ethical in the way they represent their clients. Some of the unethical ones survive. Most end up leaving the profession.

Bernard Gibbons

Bernard Gibbons, Realtor, e-PRO Certified Internet Specialist
J. Rockcliff Realtors, 15 Railroad Avenue, Danville, CA 94526
Phone (925) 997-1585
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 31, 2008

You stated:

"There is no such thing as an agent who is truly representing your interest because her or his commission DEPENDS on how much you spend on a home."


As a Realtor bound by a code of ethics, I have a fiduciary responsibility to negotiate in my buyer’s best interest REGARDLESS of how it affects my commission. Numerous clients will attest that this is indeed the case. In addition, I do not set the offering price. I bring ALL the data to the table, inform and council my client as to the various options, then expedite my client’s decisions. My buyers set the price, NOT ME.

In addition, I council buyers to work with a Realtor who sells a large number of homes in any given year. This way, the Realtor is not going to live or die off any one commission. The buyer also benefits from the Realtor’s extensive experience and first hand knowledge of the market. This type of knowledge and council can actually save a buyer thousands of dollars.

Lastly, a buyer should work with a Realtor who also represents a number of listings in addition to working with buyers. To effectively negotiate, you need a Realtor who completely understand BOTH sides of the table, but who negotiates only for the side he currently represents.
Web Reference: http://www.carlmedford.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 31, 2008
Hello Chris:

If you are looking for an agent to represent you as a buyer, you need to know that most agents won't require you to sign any agreement with you in this area. They will reasonably expect you to be loyal to them and not write an offer an a home through another agent unless you decide not to work with them though. A good agent will put a lot of effort into helping you find the right home, negotiate the purchase, and guide you through the process to completion. It is therefore not unreasonable to expect a commitment on your part.
In that case, make sure you are working with an agent who is experienced in representing buyers in San Ramon (assuming that is where you want to buy). And take up some references with past clients.

If you are looking for somebody to list your home for sale, I suggest that you will be best served with an agent who specializes in San Ramon. Again, take up references with past clients and don't sign a long-term listing agreement that you can't get out of. My clients all sign a 6 month listing agreement with me but I have an "easy exit" clause so they can cancel without penalty any time after the first 30 days on the market. Nobody ever has though.

Give me a call or email me if I can help.

Good luck to you.

Bernard Gibbons

Bernard Gibbons, Realtor, e-PRO Certified Internet Specialist
J. Rockcliff Realtors, 15 Railroad Avenue, Danville, CA 94526
Phone (925) 997-1585
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 30, 2008
Chris, It looks like Rockinblu is taking his nap so please allow me to refer you to his blog...

It has very good information on how to choose an agent and I think you may find it interesting....

Good luck, Dunes ....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 30, 2008
Norm and JR:

As to the comments, "The list is too long," keep in mind what it is.

A list.

Some clients I’ve worked with have asked questions 1, 5, 8 and 17. Some would ask three other questions. I know a couple of engineers in Silicon Valley who would ask them all. Better to be prepared with a comprehensive list and have your key questions highlighted than to go with one or two questions and have mental block when you get there.

And as a professional Realtor who works with people, I will sit through any barrage of questions so that I can be sure that those who want to know if they should work with me are totally comfortable with their choice. Just the willingness to sit still until they are done is HUGE for some people. Others come with an obviously long list and stop after four questions because they are already comfortable.

Different strokes for different folks.

As for the idea that a single question, “How long have you been a Realtor,” is the way to go, I respectfully disagree. The idea that Realtor needs to have been a Realtor a long time to be good at their craft is simply not real. There have been SO MANY changes in this industry over the past few years. I know many seasoned Realtors who have not been able to keep up. They wouldn’t know what a Trulia was if it bit them. Nice people, but ineffective even if they’ve been at it a long time. I also know a few who have twenty years experience, but they’ve repeated their first year 20 times, rather than grow progressively over time.

BTW – Happy New Year and ALL the best in 2009!
Web Reference: http://www.carlmedford.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 31, 2008
Carl's list is impractically long. What realtor is going to submit willingly to such a barrage of questions?
I agree. Many of the questions were irrelevant, too, IMO.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 31, 2008
Do not sign any agreements with an agent if you are looking to buy. And if you don't like an agent, get another one.

Also, do your own research. remember, a real estate agent is a sales person who only gets paid if you buy. So a "buyers" agent is NEVER EVER an unbiased person. There is no such thing as an agent who is truly representing your interest because her or his commission DEPENDS on how much you spend on a home.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 31, 2008
Hi Chris,
It is not necessary to sign a buyer agreement but if you do, you should find out how easy or difficult it will be for you to get out of it should you be unhappy with the service.

You may want to speak/meet with several agents before signing anything and even then, start with a short term agreement moving to the longer term agreement after a “trial period”

You have many great answers here and I can certainly vouch for the list you will find at RockinBlu’s link.

First though you may want to ask yourself a few questions regarding your own expectations from the real estate agent you will be working with and what you would like to get out of the process.

Some clients have simply wanted me to highlight areas for signature and others have wanted to know every detail about the process.

Agent services vary widely so it will of great benefit for you to figure out your own expectations in advance.

Ask the agent to give you market statistics on the area you are interested in. We have been experiencing serious market challenges and you will need a lot of information to base your decision.

If you decide to wait it out, the agent you are working with should respect that and continue to work with you for as long as you need.
Happy house hunting…Congrats!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 30, 2008
There seems to be a lot of good questions here, but just pick a few you feel comfortable with. I would suggest reading a few profiles in here and meeting the agent to see if you like him or her on a personal level. I think that will help you more than asking for a ratio between seller and buyers (or whatever). I like Carl's questions #17, #23, #24 and #25. That should be enough to start with. Call me if you want my answers :)

I hope this helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 30, 2008
I am assuming you are searching for a buyers agent.

Determine if the agent can work with your professional/personal schedule

Can they preview a property provide estimates for any rehab work or foundation issues

Provide city "trivia info"

Search for homes which could have equity

Provide you homes work within your specifications.
Web Reference: http://www.lynn911.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 30, 2008
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2014 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer