So, you are first-time home buyer and you're thinking about buying a home. And you want to know where to start. One good place to start is knowing the right questions to ask when to comes to finding a good Realtor.
Here are some tips for you:
No, Longevity isn't everything, but it sure is right up there at the top. Do you really want to be a new agent's guinea pig? There are just things that new agents don't know and don't know they don't know. Find out how long the agent you're considering hiring has been an agent AND how long they have been a full-time agent.
2. How many transactions do you do per year?
Again, numbers aren't everything. However, if you are talking to an agent who answers "10 years" to the first question and answers "5" to this one you may want to keep looking. Even in rough times most agents do 8-10-12 transactions a year. Many agents even do much more than that. Any agent worth his or her salt will answer this question for you.
3. What type of people do you work with?
Now, I don't mean anything that has to do with a protected class here. However, does the agent work with primarily buyers or sellers, or an equal amount of both? Many buyers find a "popular local Realtor" and want to interview him/her, not realizing that many, if not most, successful Realtors work mostly with sellers, and occasionally practice dual agency.** If you are a buyer shouldn't you be looking for an agent who primarily (or only) works with buyers? Also, does this agent work in the areas and the price range you are interested in? Many experienced agents like working with high-end buyers and tend to let someone on their "team" work with buyers who are looking for more moderate housing. Find an agent what works with buyers mostly and that understands the type of buyer you are and who doesn't target only one "type" of buyer.
4. Why should I pick you? What sets you apart from other Realtors?
I get asked this one sometimes. Frankly, I'm surprised I don't get asked this more often. When I interview somebody for a service I almost always ask them this question. Realtors are quite varied in their education, style, personality and experience. I think that Realtors are probably the most broadly represented group of people you will ever meet, at least that's been my experience. Find out what your potential agent's strengths are. Ask them what their "style" is when it comes to dealing with other Realtors. Ask them how they handle conflict and how they deal with their client's needs.
5. How do you handle Dual Agency?
Yes, being a broker who only works with buyers I have to throw this one in there. But, it truly is important. Do you, a potential buyer, know what Dual Agency is? Do you know how it may affect you as a first-time buyer? Did you know that the average buyer loses $5000 by using a Dual Agent?** Do you understand the tightrope that dual agents must walk when practicing Dual Agency? Do you understand WHY Dual Agency is not desirable to most buyers? Do you realize how you can find yourself in a Dual Agency situation? Find out if your potential agent handles this type of situation before it comes up! If your potential agent is partial to Dual Agency you may want to consider another option.
Of course, there are many questions you can and should ask any prospective Realtor. But I think these (5) are probably the most important ones. Most importantly, be prepared when you are interviewing a Realtor. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Remember, it's an interview. Don't let any Realtor who you may have the potential to work with take advantage of you or mislead you. Be prepared!