You might be selling your house. You might be looking to buy a house. You might not even really have a horse in the race of the real estate business—not yet anyways.
Regardless, if you want your money or property to change hands in a way that benefits you, real estate agents are the way to go. You don’t fix your car without a mechanic. You don’t remove your appendix without a surgeon. And you don’t sell your house without a real estate agent.
But not all real estate agents are created equal. And if you want to find the right real estate agent for the job, you have to pick them very carefully. Luckily, you do not have to become an expert in real estate yourself in order to tell the difference between a good agent and a bad one.
All you need to do to find the right agent is ask them these ten simple questions.
Have You Sold Real Estate in the Last Five Years?
It is good to check them quick right out of the gate. The great thing about this question is that it is one they will be expecting. On the one hand, this means they will have a canned answer. But on the other hand, it also sets the tone to be one where you are scrutinizing them.
Just be sure to have reasonable expectations. Closing one big deal can be as valuable as closing ten small deals.
By What Method do You Appraise Properties?
Ask them to get as specific as they can. You might not know what they are talking about once they start getting into detail—that’s good. If they start going into building codes and laws about what makes a space usable, then you know they have done their homework.
How Long Have You Been Working in Real Estate?
This question will usually come up naturally. But if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to force it. The truth is that there is no single answer that will satisfy all circumstances. Sometimes, you want someone with a lot of experience. Other times, you want someone with modern sensibilities.
How Have You Responded to Fraud in the Past?
You might notice that there is a spicy hidden assumption in this question. Basically, you are assuming that the real estate agent has encountered fraud at some point. This is a pretty safe assumption to make. Even if they do not have personal experience with it, they should have at least some tangential ideas of what kinds of fraud exist. Lacking that is a red flag.
How do You Plan to Sell the Property?
You would be surprised how many people never bother to ask this question. The most common reason for that is that people think it’s almost rude. What are you going to do? Correct them if you think their answer is wrong? But judging a bad answer from a good one is not the point.
Mainly, you are trying to make sure that they have an answer at all. That they have a plan.
Who are Your Top References?
Any real estate agent who has done business in the last thirty years will have their references ready before you even ask. When you look at their reference list, you are mainly looking to confirm that their references are professional and detailed.
That means that they should not be giving you a list of names with phone numbers. The list should also include the nature of the business they dealt in. The more detail the better.
What Professional do You Have Access To?
This is another feature of real estate agents that people rarely know that they can access. Basically, whatever your property needs, a real estate agent should be able to direct you to someone who can help with it. Particularly, they should be familiar with landscapers, cleaning services, and exterminators. This helps deal with the main things that affect home price.
Beyond that, they should also have at least one independent appraiser on hand. Make sure you confirm that this appraiser is independent. A real estate agent paying an appraiser to parrot the price the agent gives them is the oldest form of fraud in the book.
What is Your Exit Clause?
The whole existence of this list is predicated on the idea that you decide at the outset to either trust your agent completely, or halt doing business with them immediately. But those are not your only options. You can trust them initially, only for them to let you down.
If that happens, you will need to have a clear idea (ideally in writing) of what happens if you back out of doing business with them.
What can I do to Help You?
Yes, this is you asking your real estate agent what you can do to help. Naturally, they are there to help you sell your house. But you can go quite far if you help them help you.
People will sometimes avoid this line of inquiry since it can feel like inviting the real estate agent to make you do their job for them. But you know better than to be swindled like that.
How Much do You Charge?
A rather rudimentary question, isn’t it? All the same, it is good to talk about it verbally. Too many people will leave this sort of discussion entirely in the contract. The problem with doing that is how often it will result in some fees being hidden. And if they’re not hidden, they are a surprise.
Do yourself a favor and get to talking about the charges involved with the service early and often.
Finding a real estate agent can be hard. But it is often worth it. If there is anything else you want to ask about, Teifke Real Estate can help.