As a managing broker I’ve interviewed hundreds of agents. It occurred to me recently that with a few minor tweaks, the questions I routinely ask of inquiring licensees would be equally useful for the public. With that in mind feel free to roll these out in your next “Real Estate Interview”:
1) Do you sell real estate as a full-time job?
This question is more important than most people realize as it reveals the agent’s fundamental commitment to their profession, hence his or her clients. When business gets slow for full-time agents, the good ones tend to fill that extra time with education and personal development. When a part-time agent gets slow, they typically pick up more hours at their “regular” job.
2) How many transactions have you closed in the past 12 months?
There’s no right answer for this question but it is enlightening. In my opinion a full-time professional should complete at least 10 closings per year. On the other hand, you may find yourself mostly working with staff and assistants if you hire someone closing 50+.
3) Tell me about your experience with?????
This is where you’ll want to marry your personal needs with the agent’s skill and experience. If you’re selling a horse property, you probably want an agent proficient in domestic wells, septic systems and zoning regulations. First time buyers, down-sizers, investors and relocating families, y’all have vastly different requirements. Ensure that your agent has the tools to fulfill them.
4) Tell me about your process / do you have a system?
Buyers have two main concerns, they don’t want to miss the right house or pay too much when they find it. Sellers constantly worry that they’ve left money on the table. To resolve these concerns, look for an agent with great organizational and communication skills. Real estate is inherently hectic, skilled agents will have a plan to manage that.
5) How much do you charge?
This is mainly asked by sellers of course but the question is equally important for buyers presented with a Buyer’s Broker Agreement. Look for an agent that can justify their fees and don’t make the mistake of simply choosing the lowest bidder. If the agent can’t successfully negotiate for themselves, do you really think they’ll be a strong negotiator for you?
And do call or write them. Ask your agent to provide references from folks in a similar situation to yours. Sellers should talk to other past sellers and so on.
Notice that I didn’t ask, “How long have you been in the business”? I just don’t find the question very enlightening. Besides, if the agent passes through these six with flying colors, does it really matter?