While you’re going to interview a number of agents (you should interview several, not just pick the first one you come to) there are some things you can do first – before you choose.
Things to do
Talk with recent clients
Ask the agent for a list of their recent sales including the seller’s contact info. In particular the ones that are most like your home. Find out the asking price and the sales price, as well as, the time it was on the market before it sold.
Look up their license
Check with the state licensing agency to see if the agent has had any disciplinary action or complaints filed against them. You might even find this online. While you’re online, you can also do a quick check to see if anything negative is being said about them on forums, etc.
Choose a celebrity
A real estate agent who is judged well by his peers could be the one you’re looking for. If your prospective agent received Realtor of the Year, hire him…immediately!
Pay attention to credentials
Just as physicians have different credentials (eg DO, MD, etc) realtors can have designations that highlight their expertise:
- CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) – additional training in residential training aside from the mandatory training
- ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) – received additional training in representing buyers in transactions
- SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) – Completed training that focuses on helping buyers and sellers in the 50+ age range
- If an agent uses the capital “R”, it means he is a member of the National Association of Realtors and has pledged to abide by their code of ethics.
Research how long the agent has been in business
This information should be found with the state licensing authority – or you can simply ask the agent. (Try to find an agent with 5 or more years experience to avoid being a guinea pig)
Look at their current listings
Is the realtor doing business in your area? Do they list homes similar to yours and is their listing large enough to show a healthy business, but not so many that you’d get lost in the shuffle?
Ask about other houses for sale nearby
An agent who is on top of their area should be able to tell you about homes for sale without missing a beat.
Questions to ask
How long have you been selling real estate?
Just because your realtor has been selling real estate for a long time that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s good at it. But since real estate is a commission based business it would have been hard for him to survive had he provided terrible service over the years.
What is your average number of clients?
You don’t want to be forgotten amidst dozens of other sellers. Ask how your agent will stay on top of things if he has a lot of clients. Does he have a licensed assistant or other team members who can step in to help when needed?
What area do you cover?
This is especially important in areas which are experiencing high growth. You want someone who has a solid understanding of home values in the area who can guide you towards an asking price that will deliver solid offers, quickly.
What questions do you have for me?
Finally, if your agent has been listening to you, understands your needs, and is truly interested in helping you reach your goals they should have a few questions at the least.