Selecting the best real estate agent for you and your unique situation is crucial to your success. Sometimes choosing the person that feels right to you is the best option BUT before doing so be sure to do your research.
There is often pressure to hire your distant cousin, neighbor or your boss's wife. They may in fact be the perfect real estate agent for you but you won't know until you get to know them and become familiar with their experience.
When researching agents in local news groups be sure to take note of who it is you are receiving recommendations from. Are they an actual client of the person they suggest or are they a family member or friend but have never completed a sale with them? If you aren't sure and it's not clear I always suggest asking the question. Often I see people suggest a friend who is brand new without any actual experience as a gesture to help them get started. When selecting someone for something so important as a real estate transaction you need experience and skill on your side, especially in this market. Everyone has to start somewhere and often new agents can be quite helpful, if you choose to go this route be sure to ask them to work with a mentor and co list your home or work with a team mate to help you buy. You need to be sure what the person's skill level is and decide for yourself whether you are comfortable.
Here are some questions I ask when selecting agents to refer clients to who are buying or selling out of my area.
1. How many homes have you sold in the last 6 months, 12 months and how many in total?
The market changes QUICKLY. If your agent isn't actively engaged they may miss developments that impact you like appraisal trends, new mortgage regulations, home values and buyer saturation in your market place. In 6 months the market can drastically change from a seller's market to a buyer's market and if your agent isn't studying the trends daily they simply can't provide the same value that someone who is immersed in today's market in my opinion. Someone who sold 200 homes in the 90's or early 2000's has great experience however sales patterns are different now. Be sure they are willing to educate themselves and you about the most recent developments so that they can be a positive resource for you.
Personally in 2016 I succesfully managed the sales of 65 + homes for buyers and sellers. During the last 6 months I sold 30 homes. Since the beginning of my career I have managed almost 450 sales, many of these were for repeat clients that I now consider friends.
2. How many sales weren't completed that you worked on in these time frames?
Often there is little a real estate agent can do to save the day when a buyer loses their job or buys a new car prior to closing on their home forcing their lender to withdraw funding.
If an agent has a high rate of lost sales asking them what went wrong is a must. Listen to their explanation of what prevented the sales from taking place. Was it appraisal issues? Home inspection concerns? This information can provide you with insight into their problem solving skills.
3. What is your average sale price ?
You need to know the agent you are considering has experience in the range you are working within. An agent who specializes in multi million dollar sales may not have any familiarity with the most common FHA 3.5% down mortgages in the $400,000 price point. That doesn't mean they can't effectively manage your sale, it just means that you should have a conversation about their commitment to your property and to learning the ins and outs of the price point. The opposite of course is also true. An agent with a high level of experience in the $400,000 price point may not have the connections, experience or knowledge of the million plus range that is needed in order to compete as a buyer or a seller. The market has pockets of values that vary by town, agent expertise in your price point is a valid concern for you as a customer.
4. What do you love about your job?
You want to be listening for signs that the person you are interviewing truly is in love with their career. When you are making a move having someone on your side who is passionate about their work will provide you with a better experience as a whole.
For me this is an easy question to answer. I adore winning for my clients. Finding a home owner looking for a specific type of buyer and making that connection is thrilling. Helping someone who is depending on me to obtain the price that they need to move is a challenge that I embrace daily. Calling a buyer client to let them know we won their dream home in a bidding war never seems like "work". Ultimately checking in on Facebook and seeing so many past clients, now life long friends recommending my services keeps me focussed on finding new strategies to make my clients lives easier, their sales more successful and their moves stress free.
Questions for Buyer Agents:
1. How many offers have you written in the last 6 months?
Trends change, inspection clause date ranges in a buyer's market are longer, in a seller's market inspections are often waived. Down payment requirements fluctuate for some mortgages and some homes or condos don't qualify for specific loan types. If your agent isn't studying the market daily and actively engaged in negotiations, mortgage acquisition and contract writing they won't have the same edge that someone more active will.
2. What was your success rate?
A smart agent knows their success rate, remember it's not always the agents fault a sale dies, this question is more about hearing their thoughts on the process.
3. Do you work as an individual agent or do you have the support of a group?
If you are working with an individual agent be sure that you understand their availability to show you properties as they become available. If your agent takes weekends and evenings off you need to ask yourself whether seeing homes during the day is possible and whether you are comfortable only viewing homes during the week. If a new listing hits on Friday showings begin Saturday are you willing to wait until Monday? There's no right or wrong answer, the goal is simply to be sure you are comfortable.
4. What commission rate do you charge and if the seller is offering less what do you do?
This is an individual choice for agents and again there is no right or wrong answer, you simply need to know ahead of time whether you could potentially be asked to compensate your agent if the seller of the home you are purchasing is paying a discount brokerage fee. The time to find out is before you develop a relationship with an agent so that you know what to expect if you decide to view for sale by owner homes or coming soon properties that may not be advertising their commission rate yet. Save yourself the heartache of finding out they are looking for you to add to the commission after you have found the dream house. Often the amount can make or break your sale.
5. What happens if something goes wrong?
When something goes wrong you are depending on your agent to help you understand your options, your responsibilities and your potential remedies. Throughout any transaction there will be ups and downs and often questions come up whether it be about inspection, financing or the property itself. Asking what happens when something goes wrong will show you whether you are working with someone proactive coming from a problem solving position or someone that leaves it to others to figure out.
This shows you who has the connections you need in town with contractors, plumbers, heating techs, architects, attorneys, home inspectors and contacts at town hall as well as lenders.
Again, there is no right or wrong answer. This simply shows you who has the resources you may need.
Don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions at 978 457 3406. If you are house hunting north shore, northern MA or southern NH my team and I can help you today.
If you need to meet the best of the best agents in a different part of the world I can help you find the perfect person to help you navigate your sale process.
Questions for Seller's Agents -
There are no right or wrong answers, these are designed to give you more insight into the person you are hiring and have a better understanding of what exactly they will do for you.
1. How many listings have you sold in the last 12 months.
2. How many of your listings did you find the buyer for?
3. How many of your houses failed to sell?
4. What is your average sale price reduction from list price?
5. How do you be sure your client's house will gain maximum exposure ?
6. What do you do to gauge the success of the marketing?
7. Are you using any unique marketing techniques?
8. Do you pay for professional videos and professional photos? If so what do you do with them? If not why not?
9. How much local traffic does your Facebook page receive ?
10. How do you suggest we handle multiple offers ?
11. How do you suggest we handle scheduling showings & do we have to have private showings?
12. Do we have to have a sign?
13. Do you accompany showings?
14. Do you host your own open house events?
15. What do you do that makes the homes you market stand out?
16. What is your commission rate and what do you suggest we pay the buyer agent?
17. How long are your listing contracts and can we add language that allows us to cancel if we aren't satisfied?
18. What happens if our house doesn't sell? Do you charge us for marketing or for collateral?
19. Will you suggest dropping the price if it hasn't sold in 2 weeks?
20. How often will we hear from you?
21. Will you provide us with feedback after each viewing and if so what time frame should we expect ?