Many first-time homebuyers find a real estate agent via referral from friends or family. While well-intentioned, these referrals may not be the best fit for your home-buying needs. Sometimes the agent’s personality isn’t a great fit, or their specialization is off — say, an agent who focuses on downtown San Antonio real estate while you’re looking for a single-family home for sale in Castle Hills.
Before engaging an agent’s services, it’s mission-critical to ask thoughtful questions to ensure an agent-buyer match made in heaven. Use the list of questions below as a starting point for conversations with your friends, as well as with the agents themselves.
What to ask your contact about their agent reference
1. What was the frequency and mode of your communication?
Communication is everything. It’s also key in understanding how the agent works with clients. If your friends emailed with their agent to keep up to date, and you deal only in phone calls, this might not be the best match for you. However, keep in mind that many agents will change their communication style based on their clients’ needs.
2. Would you recommend them to your parents?
This question cuts to the bone — quickly. If your friends are willing to recommend their agent to their parents, then the trust factor is high. If they’re not, maybe it’s due to a difference in communication styles, which isn’t necessarily a negative (Mom and Dad may not be down with texting as a primary means of communication). Ask for the reason behind their answer before writing the agent off.
3. Were they knowledgeable about the current market?
The market is on fire and inventory is moving with lightning speed. To remain competitive, you need an agent who is on their toes and has access to inside information about properties for sale. Knowing which listings are going to be posted next week is real estate gold. Current asking prices, the lowdown on bidding wars, and preinspections are all must-knows as well.
Interview questions for your real estate agent
1. Is real estate your full-time job?
Part-time agents may have other obligations that can crop up at a critical point in the transaction. Also, a full-time agent is more apt to be current with market trends as well as with changes in policy and law.
2. How many transactions have you closed in my target neighborhoods?
Buying experience in your desired neighborhoods is a huge bonus. Having the inside scoop on the most-desired streets and houses coming on the market can give you a competitive edge over other bidders. Neighborhood changes, zoning updates, and a host of other little details constitute the fabric of an agent’s neighborhood expertise.
3. Do you work with a team?
While not necessary, having a team (from their real estate agency) to assist with the purchase of your new home is certainly helpful. From pulling up comparable homes to answering the phone when your agent is with another client, their involvement can be comforting and help ease your buyer stress. Team or not, get the scoop now.
4. Do you work as a dual agent?
If a seller working with your agent owns your dream home, are you comfortable purchasing with your agent representing both sides? In some states, this relationship is not allowed, but in others it’s common practice. Decide where you stand on the issue and communicate upfront with your agent about your preference.
5. How frequently and by what means will we communicate?
If your day is packed with meetings, phone calls probably aren’t ideal for your schedule. Also, will they respond to late-night texts or emails if necessary? Or do they check emails only twice a day, at scheduled times? While there is no right or wrong answer, it’s imperative to be on the same page.
Personal references come with a transfer of trust. Before you jump into a relationship, it’s important to make sure the agent is a great fit both professionally and personally. Use these questions to solidify the personal reference as well as the relationship with your potential agent.