To determine if an agent who looks great on paper can meet your needs in real life, delve deeper with these questions:
1. How do you handle bidding wars?
Though bidding wars may not be as prevalent, if you want to find a Realtor who’s a strong negotiator, this is a great question to ask. It’s imperative that a prospective agent can walk you through exactly how they handle a multi-offer situation when representing a homebuyer and/or how they help a seller select the right offer.
💡 Tip: Take note of an agent’s enthusiasm when sharing their negotiating strategy. In all likelihood, this is a skill they’re proud of and have been crafting for years, which should generate a level of excitement.
2. Do you specialize in certain neighborhoods?
It can bring instant relief to hear that an agent knows a neighborhood you have your eye on inside and out. If so, ask them for details, like: What do you think of the schools? How’s the public transport? How have housing prices changed? Have you helped other clients move there (and how did they like it)?
💡 Tip: It’s ideal to work with an agent with at least some knowledge of the neighborhood(s) you’re looking in. Otherwise, you might need to choose another agent.
3. What did you do before you became a Realtor?
This question offers a fun way to break the ice. It can also give you helpful insight, based on an agent’s response. Were they working a corporate job and looking for more human connection and flexibility? Did they work as a contractor or home stager, adding to their years of industry experience?
💡 Tip: Consider yourself lucky if you find a Realtor who pivoted to real estate from another career in the industry. They may have insider knowledge about building, inspections, and more or know contacts who do.
4. Which lender do you partner with?
The odds are high that an agent will have a preferred lender. However, it’s up to you whether you choose to work with them or not. Still, it can be helpful to learn more about an agent’s experience in working with their lender partner—how long they’ve partnered with the lender, how well the lender has connected with past clients, and how quickly the lender typically closes.
💡 Tip: Now’s the time to ask what an agent may need to take you on as a client. In today’s market, many agents prefer and may even require a buyer to get *pre-approved before touring houses.
Take the first step: Ask your local Academy Loan Officer how *Pre-Approval+ can get you home faster.
5. What’s your marketing strategy?
If you’re selling, a prospective agent should include their marketing plan in their listing presentation, i.e., their pitch detailing how they can sell your home quickly and at a competitive price. If the marketing plan is covered briefly, you may need to ask for more detail. Specifically, you want to find a Realtor who can tell you where/how your listing will be marketed once it’s live, as well as how well these methods have worked for other sellers.
💡 Tip: When selling, you’ll also need to know an agent’s commission structure; these fees are paid by the seller, not the buyer, and typically average around 6 percent.
6. How quickly do you respond to texts and emails?
Time is of the essence in a market where inventory is limited. Use this question to suss out what an agent’s primary mode of communication will be—i.e., phone, email, or text, as the majority of Realtors prefer to communicate—and whether their response time works for you.
💡 Tip: If an agent observes “off hours” in the evenings or part of the weekend, ask if they have a system for getting in touch if an urgent issue arises.
7. Do you have references from past clients?
It can be tempting to skip this question in favor of sifting through online reviews. But do so with caution. The most effective way to find a Realtor with great client feedback is by going straight to the source: Chat with one or more past clients. (And cross-check their responses with online reviews to be thorough.)
💡 Tip: You can also use this time to ask to take a peek—or a picture—of an agent’s real estate license. While it may seem forward, any reputable agent will be happy to oblige.
8. Is there any question I missed that other clients ask?
This is a strong closing question that can give you immediate insight into any areas you may have overlooked. A seasoned agent who’s been screened by plenty of clients may respond with related questions, like: How soon can I expect to start seeing houses? Have you completed many short-sale transactions? What’s your list-to-sell ratio?
💡 Tip: Keep in mind that a skilled agent should be able to easily answer this question. They may also have questions of their own for you to make sure they’re able to give you what you’re looking for.