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Questions to ask a real estate agent

Here's how to find a good real estate agent you'll love.

Yup—you’re going to want to do an interview when trying find a good real estate agent. In fact, you’ll want to talk to a few of them. Does it take a time to come up with a bunch of questions to ask a real estate agent? Sure. Is it worth it when you find an agent you can trust, who really gets you, and you feel confident is going to help you find the right house at the best price? You bet.

Before you start jotting down questions to ask a real estate agent, think a bit about your needs: do you want a friendly, casual relationship with an agent, or a more formal one? Do you want fast, aggressive sale, or do you want to take your time? Once you have an idea of the type of agent you want, Trulia can help you connect with some great people.

Questions to ask a real estate agent:

  • Can you summarize your background, bio, and the type of real estate work you typically do?

    This is standard interview territory, but it’s important to cover. Here are things to make sure the agent touches on:

    • Years of experience: Understanding the local market, negotiating, navigating the unexpected—these are all things real estate agents master by doing again and again.
    • Buyer’s agent or seller’s: An agent with knowledge about both sides of a real estate transaction is handy, but make sure they’re most experienced with buyers.
    • Typical client: First-time buyers? Multi-millionaires? Make sure their typical client resembles you. Also make sure they’re experienced with the type of purchase you’d like to make, like if you’re looking to buy a foreclosure, or want a particular type of mortgage loan.
    • Familiarity with neighborhoods: Local housing markets are notoriously varied—even from one neighborhood to the next. Agents often have repeat business in neighborhoods they know well.
  • What is your relationship with clients like?

    You’re going to work closely with this person for weeks, months, or even longer. You want to be comfortable with their working style. Here are some of the things to cover:

    • Personality: Find out if your agent plans to interact more casually—perhaps sending you updates at all hours and shooting the breeze when they call—or if they’re more professional and formal.
    • Communications: Do they text, call, email, or all three? How quickly do they reply to messages?
    • Time spent together: Will you hear from them daily? See them daily? Or weekly?
    • Transparency: How much information—including their own opinion—do they typically share with clients?
    • Advice: Some agents see themselves as just a mediator between you and the seller. Others consider themselves a home-buying coach. Make sure yours will help you understand what to look for when buying a house if it’s your first time buying.
  • What’s your strategy as a buyer’s agent?

    This is one of the most important questions to ask a real estate agent because agents have different strategies for closing deals. Make sure the one you pick has an approach that fits your needs. If you prioritize getting as great a deal as possible no matter how many offers are declined, you’ll want a tough negotiator. If you are counting on closing on a special house you must have, you may want an agent who likes to reach a compromise. The best traits for you will vary by your own preferences, as well as your market.

  • What’s your average list-price-to-sales-price ratio?

    The answer to this question will require a little context. When home buying, you want a real estate agent who ends up with lower sale prices than list prices. That said, if you live in a hot market where everything sells over asking, you have to take that trend into consideration. This is one reason why it’s smart to interview a few agents: You can compare their list-price-to-sales-price ratios.

  • Will you provide three references for me to call?

    References are standard for everything from job interviews to hiring contractors for a reason: They’re really important. Sure, agents are likely to hand you the contact info of their happiest clients, but those people will be able to verify the answers to the questions you just asked and give you advice on how to best work with them.

    Once you’ve zeroed in on an agent, it’s time to start thinking about your mortgage. First stop? Getting your mortgage pre-approval.