What are some good questions for Agent Interviews?

Asked by Alejandro Foung, San Francisco, CA Thu Jan 10, 2008

I'm looking to get an agent very soon and want to know whether Joe Agent is worth his/her salt. What questions would you recommend I ask them?

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K Feat, , San Francisco, CA
Thu Jan 10, 2008
Hi Alejandro,

For home buyers, I think that questions related to how this agent is going to work for you are the most important.

As you probably know, a buyer's agent gets paid her/his commission at the close of the transaction. This commission comes from the seller, not from the buyer.

That being said, you want to know how this commission based agent is going to find you the best property that fits your criteria. Here are some of the questions that I've been asked or that I've talked to previous buyer clients about in order that they got some of the vital information about the realtor/client working relationship. For me it is important that clients what my business philosophy is and that it meets their needs.

Are you in this with me for the long haul? If I it takes me 6 months to a year to find the right place, will you still work with me? (KEY: Look for commitment)

How much contact (i.e., frequency) and in what format of communications (e.g., email, text msg, and/or phone) should I expect from you. (KEY: Look for what fits you the best and how you like to get communications. Also, it tells you a lot about how they communicate too and their flexibility)

Give me some examples of your negotiation skills or past client negotiations that you've undertaken on their behalf and what was the outcome? (KEY: This should give you an idea of how they think and how they work for their clients)

What has your client base been like? What types of people have you worked with in the past? (KEY: This will provide you with an understanding of what people have gravitated to working with them in the past, also the calibre of people that have been attracted to working with this realtor)

What's your experience/work background? How has that helped you in the past with your clients? (KEY: This should give you an idea of their professionalism)

Alejandro, I hope these help to some degree. Best wishes in your interviewing process!

-- Kevin
1 vote
Perry Hender…, Agent, Austin, TX
Thu Jan 10, 2008
My favorites:
1. Why you?
2. Why now?
3. Name 3 reasons I would never want to hire you.

If they keep it real or can give an intellegent answer on #3 then you can at least begin to trust them.
1 vote
Greg Corvi, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Thu Jan 10, 2008
Melanie's article below is a good start. Bottom line is you need to meet face to face and get all expectations out on the table. This can be a very stressful transaction but it should also be an exciting time, so choose someone you are comfortable with, trust, and who can guide you through honestly, professionally, and represents your interests first. Good luck.
1 vote
Melanie Nard…, , San Francisco, CA
Thu Jan 10, 2008
Here's a good resource on questions to ask agents:
1 vote
Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Tue Jul 3, 2012
How long have you been a Realtor?
What makes you different then another Realtor?
What is the most effective way to market my home?
May I have references?
0 votes
Jasmine Mitc…, Renter, San Francisco, CA
Wed Jun 27, 2012
How much do you plan on spending to advertise my property? Where will you advertise my property? Since my home will be empty, do you plan on bringing in some furniture for the pictures or for the open house? Has your real estate salespersons license ever been suspended for a disciplinary reason? How long have you worked in this region? If the property I want is in escrow already, can you make it fall out of escrow to get me the property I want? (this one reveals a lot about their character). What hours can I reach you by phone? What hours do you spend at the office?
If this matters to you, you may want to find out what kind of car they have if they are going to be driving you around to look at properties...
What made you get in to real estate?
If you were to list my property, what price would you recommend?
Would you be willing to list my property for 5%, giving 3% to the buying agent and taking only 2% for yourself and your broker? (Buying agents are discouraged from showing a home that offers them less than 3% but often times 2% is still worth listing the property for the listing agent). Or offer to pay 6% but ask that a certain amount of money is spent on advertising.
0 votes
Sally Rosenm…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Tue Jan 15, 2008
Dear Alejandro,

Many good questions are suggested below. I would skip things like "Do you hold open houses and why?" because you are a Buyer and not a Seller so you really should not care about that. The key questions are:

How long have you been in business?
Full time Realtor?
Are you a Top Producer?
Do you work with first-time buyers? If yes, why do you give to these Buyers? (A buyer's booklet, realtor's map, descriptions of the different areas of the city.....??)
Do you work with Buyers and Sellers?
Do you help Buyers get pre-approved (and recommend lenders to call?)
Do you cover all areas of the City? (If not, ask which areas he/she covers and why.)
Do you take clients on tours where you set up appointments and drive them? Or do you make them meet you?
Do you take clients out on Sundays to open houses? If you do not take them, do you plan their tours for them?
Do you take a client through the whole process or do you give the escrow/paperwork to an assistant or escrow coordinator?
Do you have references? Can I call or email your references?

You want to know how your agent will assist you through every step of the process of Buying real estate. Does he/she have good listening skills? Is she/he a great negotiator? Does he/she understand your true wants and needs? Do you get along with that agent? Personality plays an important part. If you do not get along with your agent, it does not matter how good he/she is! I welcome further discussion.

Good luck!
Web Reference:  http://www.sallyrosenman.com
0 votes
William, Home Seller, 18951
Fri Jan 11, 2008
Thanks for the question, just wanted to track this one. Great answers!
0 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Fri Jan 11, 2008
There are lots of good questions that you should ask a potential listing agent.

• How many homes, of my type, have you sold? (recently, 6 mos, 1 year, 5 years)
• What is your list / sale ratio?
• What is your average "days on market"
• What is your marketing plan for my home?
does it include internet (where?), do you offer multiple photos, virtual tours, color brochures
• Do you do open houses (why / why not / how often?)
• What is your price recommendation (why / how did you arrive at that / do you have comps to back that up?... do you have a "quick sale" price, and a normal sale price")
• What is your plan if I'm not under contract in 30 days / 60 days / 90 days ...etc....
• Why should I hire you? What do you bring to the table that's different than the myriad of other agents out there who want my listing.
• Will you offer a reduced commission (why / why not?)
• Are you a full-time agent?
• Do you practice dual-agency? (why / why not?)
• What do you think of Agent A and Agent B (the two other agents you're interviewing)
• Are you planning any upcoming vacations or are you going to be unavaible, and who is your back-up when you're gone?

and lastly

• Is there anything I haven't asked you, that you think I should have?

There, that should get a good interview going.
0 votes
Chris Word, , San Francisco, CA
Fri Jan 11, 2008
All the agents below have given good answers. Selecting an agent is more human to human than it is most anything else: and that means you have to have trust elements involved, you also have to determine if you can get along with them if there are disagreements about process or otherwise (because eventually two people will differ on things, in our industry our clients forget that we have experience and override us, sometimes with ill effects). For other things, I think one important thing to ask is how the agent will protect your rights, namely, your right to get and protect your deposit should you need to cancel the contract. A good agent will show their experience in telling you how they may have written a contract addition (called an addendum) that asked for a special condition from the seller and how that language was designed to protect you (the buyer) and how it also protected your deposit and other expenses you have during the process. Losing the deposit is something that should be protected against, especially in this market where most deposits should be near 3% of the purchase value.
0 votes
Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Thu Jan 10, 2008
Alejandro, in addition to the other agents here are some other suggestions
1) Get references from the Agent of past clients
2) Ask about not only wins but losses and why
3) What type of education they have, how they took those classes; in person or on line, related and not related to real estate
4) What kind of support do they have in their Broker and the network of other agents, how are they viewed by their broker and other agents?
5) Will the Buyer agent send you automatic emails on new listings
6) Will the agent preview the properties for you
7) Does the agent participate in Broker Tours
8) Will the agent market for you as a Buyer and seek out other homes not on the market
9) Question their knowledge on the different Real Estate Contracts and which one they recommend for you.
10) Do they work as a team, do they have an assistant, an escrow coordinator? If so how much will they rely on their support staff vs hands on
11) When it is time to write an offer how do they normally present it to the other agent? Via Fax? Or will they personally present and sell them face to face on your offer?
12) Ask open ended questions and judge your decission based on how comfortable you are with their integrity, professionalsm, knowledge and ethics.
Since this is a buyers agent you are talking about expect to have a lot of contact with them and you will want someone who is in your corner and one you trust and like. Congratulations on your decission to buy!
Web Reference:  http://www.terrivellios.com
0 votes
Karen Wenzel,…, Agent, Brookfield, WI
Thu Jan 10, 2008
One of the most often heard complaints I have heard from people, is that they never heard from their last agent. Once they signed the listing contract, the agent put up the sign and waited for something to happen. Ask the agent how often they will communicate with you. I would expect that they should give you an activity report at least once each week, plus feedback from any showings.
With the market condtions changing- it would be important for the agent to keep monitoring the market conditons and inform you of your competition, and review your pricing at least every 3-4 weeks.
I would find out what the Agent''s marketing plan is for your home ( Real Estate is Not one-size-fits-all)
I'm sure other agents will provide you with some more gems. Good luck to you. Make sure you feel comfortable with the agent and your personalities match
Web Reference:  http://www.GoPackerUp.com
0 votes
good answer
Flag Sat Aug 3, 2013
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