Real estate agents are sales people. Some are good at what they do, and some are not so good. So how can you tell if your real estate agent has it together? How can you tell if they’re going to help you find the right home for you? Knowing the right questions to ask a realtor can simplify the decision-making process. And that’s one less thing to worry about when you’re buying a house.
Ask these seven questions before you decide if a realtor is right for you:
1. Do you work with a lender?
Many realtors work with a lender because it helps them speed up the process of their sales. This is someone they’ve done business with before, someone who is reliable about closing loans on time. If a realtor’s buyers get prequalified with a good lender before they look for a home, their loan will be more likely close on time, and so will their sale. Sometimes a buyer will find a realtor and expect to put an offer on a home right away. But if they aren’t prequalified with a lender, their realtor has no idea if they can afford the home they have their eye on. That’s where their lender comes in. If the realtor’s buyers get prequalified with a good lender before they look for a home, their loan will close more quickly.
2. How long have you been in the business, and what was your most satisfying sale?
Real estate is a popular career choice, especially right now with the competitive buying market. Some realtors are new to the game and may not know much about their business. Others might have been in the business for years, but they may not provide quality service. So how can you tell if your realtor knows what they are doing? Pay careful attention to the example they give. Pretend you are conducting a job interview and you want to judge their ability based on the kind of story they tell. Did they help someone get the home they wanted even though there were several other bidders? Did they assist someone find a home that would fit their budget and their 8-person family? It’s important that your realtor gets excited about a challenge they overcame so they could sell a home.
3. Do you have an assistant, and, if so, what do they do?
This is kind of a trick question. A lot of realtors (especially the busiest ones) will have an assistant who helps them with a variety of tasks. They might be doing things like organizing their client database or something more hands on like working with their clients. If your realtor has an assistant, that assistant could be the one doing a lot of the leg work to help you get your home. Find out how much the assistant does and you will have a better idea of who to talk to when the buying process gets hectic.
If you’re a homeowner who isn’t ready to buy, you could still benefit from a mortgage refinance.
4. Do you work full-time or part-time? Why?
For some realtors, sales is more of a hobby than a passion. That’s not to say that someone working part-time doesn’t love being a realtor. But if you ask your realtor this question, you’ll find out a lot about how they feel about their job. You’ll find out if they’re there for the money or if they’re there because they care about helping people find great homes. So even though you are asking if they work full-time or part-time, what you are really asking is how much they invest in what they do. And someone who is passionate about their role is someone who will stop at nothing to help you find the right home.
5. Can you give me the names of a couple of past clients who wouldn’t mind speaking with me about their experience with you?
Online reviews are great, but they only go so far, because you only get one side of the story. You’ll never know if that one scathing review was a personal vendetta or the absolute truth. And though having a majority of good reviews is an excellent sign, it can help to talk with a real customer about their experience. If you realtor doesn’t have any clients available, ask if you can speak with their lender or builder.
6. Are you licensed?
Most realtors are going to be completely okay with this question. Ask for a copy of their license so you can cross-check it with the Department of Real Estate and make sure it’s up-to-date. It’s important to make sure your realtor has taken the steps they need to take to provide you with the best knowledge available. If your realtor starts acting weird when you ask for this, it may be time to shop elsewhere.
A great lender and a great realtor go together like peas and carrots. Here’s what you can expect from the Cornerstone experience.
7. What are your favorite neighborhoods and why?
Your realtor should be passionate about the communities where they sell homes. They should know where the good restaurants and schools are. They should know how safe the neighborhood is, or how many families live in the area. This is one of those questions that sounds simple, but can tell you a lot. You won’t just find out which neighborhoods are their favorites. You’ll also find out how much research your realtor has done in these neighborhoods. If they can quote stats off the cuff or mention their favorite Greek restaurant, that’s a good sign. If they say, “Oh, yeah, it’s a great neighborhood. People really like it,” then buyer beware.
Once you’ve settled on a realtor you can trust, they can refer you to a lender. Or, you can get in touch with your lender first, and we’ll be happy to recommend a realtor we’ve successfully worked with in the past. With a strong team working on your behalf, homebuying suddenly feels easy.
For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.