There are an estimated 2 MILLION active real estate licenses in the United States. Yet the average buyer will only interview one real estate agent before hiring representation.
We’ve done most of the leg work when you use our free service to match you with a real estate agent. And, to help build the relationship, it is a good idea to learn more about your agent.
Here are 14 questions to help you when you are hiring a real estate agent. We’ve divided these into three categories: General (should be asked of any agent), Buyer (should be asked when the agent will help you purchase your home), Listing (should be asked when the agent will be listing your home).
General Questions to ask when hiring a real estate agent
1. How long have you been a full-time real estate agent?
Full-time is the key in this question. You want someone working with you who does this for a living, not as a side-gig.
2. How many transactions have you closed in the past 12 months?
If an agent has been very active in the past year, that means they are likely current on contract knowledge and the local market. Laws and contracts change on a fairly regular basis, you need someone who is actively involved in the market and working with current contracts.
3. Do you have a team or personal assistant?
This is important for two reasons. First, if your agent has at least one other person working with them, that means an additional person to double-check information, schedules, and help coordinate.
That’s not to say you should dismiss an agent who doesn’t have support staff. Some agents choose to work with fewer clients rather than scaling their business, and that’s perfectly fine.
More importantly, if they have a team, you’ll want to make sure you know with whom on the team you will be working. Hence, the next question!
4. Will I be working with you or a member of your team?
If the agent does have a team, you’ll want to ask if the agent you are talking with will also be representing you. Real estate teams can grow to be quite large and have several people in a variety of roles. Just because you’re meeting with the team leader doesn’t always mean that’s the person who will be working diretly with you.
5. How long have you worked in *your area* market?
This question should be asked regarding the location the agent will be helping you. An agent could have several years of experience in real estate but still be new to the area. Agents move too, so it’s good to make sure they are familiar with the local market (especially if you aren’t and will be relying more heavily on them for advice).
6. Can I terminate our agreement if I'm not happy?
Agents will typically ask you to sign an agreement saying they represent you. Once you sign this, you can’t work with another real estate agent to help you with your current transaction unless the agreement you signed is terminated or expires.
Which leads to this question. The answer should be “yes.” Like any relationship, if you are unhappy, we would recommend you first ask if there is a way to resolve the issue. If so, discuss the problem with your agent before terminating your agreement. If you really feel you aren’t being represented properly, you should be able to cut ties and find someone who can better assist you.
An agent typically isn’t paid until they help you close on your home. They could spend several weeks working with you unpaid. Without these fees, an agent would not receive any payment for their time and effort if the contract is terminated before closing.
7. How will we communicate?
When we match you with an agent, communication style is one of five factors we take into consideration. That being said, it’s best to ask this question to make sure that expectations are understood. This is an excellent time for you to discuss your preferred methods and times to communicate.
8. Can you recommend other professionals?
If an agent has a decent amount of experience in the industry and the local market, chances are they know quite a few professionals who do an equally good job for their clients. This includes: lenders, inspectors, stagers, movers, and more.
9. What is your commission?
Commissions are complicated enough to be explained in their own article. We won’t dive into all the details of a commission here, but we recommend you ask the question.
Know that commissions are negotiable. Keep in mind that “you get what you pay for” is an expression for a reason. A slightly lower commission may cost you more than it saves. The following 4 questions will help you better understand what it is the agent is doing on your behalf to earn that commission.
Questions when hiring a buyer’s agent
These questions should be asked in addition to the nine general questions we just outlined.
1. Will you attend inspections and closing with me?
Your buyer’s agent should attend these with you. During a home inspection, they can help explain any issues the inspector addresses, and can take note of these issues to possibly negotiate on your behalf.
At closing, they will help to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
2. When are you available to view properties?
Though you may think a full-time agent is ready to go see any house the second you call, it is important to remember your agent is running a business and has other clients, too. Asking this will make sure your agent’s schedule is a good match for yours.
Questions when hiring a listing agent
1. How will you market my home?
This answer should be detailed. Like in any industry, there are acronyms that agents will use freely. If you don’t know what an acronym is (e.g., MLS), ask. Remember, communication is key. (See Question #7 above)
2. Will you hold open houses and communicate directly with potential buyers?
You can list your home for sale at whatever price you want. Your listing agent can advise you to the best of their ability with a recommended list price. But, ultimately, the buyer is likely to negotiate.
Open houses are a great way to get feedback from potential buyers. This feedback could help you sell your home faster.
While open houses are part of marketing, this question is to clarify if your agent will personally hold the open houses or ask another agent to. It is fairly common for a listing agent to ask another agent to hold an open house (your listing agent may be a superhero, but they can only be in one place at a time). The important thing is getting quality feedback from people who visit your open house
We encourage you to ask more questions than what we’ve provided you, but these questions will give you a general understanding of how your agent will be assisting you. Many similar list have more questions that ask for very precise information. The truth is, asking about particular statistics offers little value if you can’t compare them to a large number of other agents.
Additionally, the agent you are interviewing should have an entire presentation to explain what they will do for you, and there are likely quite a few statistics included.