I ask how long they were a realtor and what they did before becoming one. Previous life backgrounds can give you an insight into how they might think and other skills they might pull in to the game.
Also - exactly how will they use the internet to help market your home.
Pin them down on questions like Keith listed - don't take an ambiguous answer or accept a piece of paper slapped in your face with "this is what we do".
I would ask them these questions:
1. What can you do for me to sell my home for top dollar that no one else can?
2. What is the absorption rate in my area for my home? The number of homes on the market divided by the number of homes sold in the last 30 days.
3. What is the list price to sale price ratio for my area?
4. How can I squeeze the most profit out of my home?
5. I need a Realtor that is an excellent negotiator. Prove to me you can negotiate?
6. Where do buyers come from? What will you do if we get a low offer after ten days on the market?
7. What can I do to fix up my house to help net more?
8. See if they ask Where you are going and when you need to be there. You only want to move once.
This should be a great start.
One good way is to google the town that you are looking to buy a home in for "real estate for sale" in that town. Usually you will be given some choices of websites to search for listings on that are locat agents sites. You can then send them an email and ask them some basic questions about how long they have been in the business, what they specialize in, how they go about working with buyers and sellers and if you can have a meeting with them to get to know them a bit to see if you would like to work with them. Getting a referral from a friend of coworker who has recently sold their home or bought a home is one of the best ways thought because they have first hand knowledge of so meone who they have already worked with. Buying and selling a home is a huge decision and you need to have a comfort level as well as a sense of trust and confidence in your agent that you usually can only get from a face to face meeting. When you have them to your home they can give you ideas of what you need to do before you put your home on the market to help maximize the price you will receive and reduce the market time.
You sound like you are on the right track knowing that you have things to fix and get ready to sell it. But, also maybe interview and decide on the agent before you finish just in case they have some additional insight for you.
If you do like I am with Coldwell Banker and can refer one of the top agents in the area for you to interview. Through our relocation service an agent has to be experienced, fully trained, and certified before they can even start taking referral business. It might not even be a Coldwell Banker agent but just one from the Realology family which includes; Coldwell Banker, ERA, Century21, Southby's just to name a few. So the top agents in the area are the ones allowed to take referrals.
If you have any questions just drop me a line or post another question.
Take care and good luck,
Coldwell Banker Triad
It is best to get a home inspection right away and do the repairs now.