Are you looking to finally buy a new home and begin a new chapter in life?
Moving house is an exciting time, but it also comes with many challenges from the constant changes within the world of technology and real estate. Working with an agent who understands your needs and concerns will help you get to grips with the process and make your move a lot easier. In order to find the right agent though, you’ve got to ask the right questions – which is why we’ve listed the top 9 things to check with any potential candidate.
Getting to Know Your Agent
These first 3 questions will give you a better idea of the agent’s background and will help you determine whether they are qualified enough to support you during this transition.
1. Can You Tell Me About Your Previous Experience?
First and foremost, your agent must know what they’re doing. With real estate, this typically comes with experience. Ask your agent how many years they’ve been in the industry and what their schedule is like. Is real estate their full-time job or really more of a hobby?
Included with experience should be their rate of success. Agents should tell you how many homes they have closed in the last year, the average number of days it takes to sell a home, and the average difference between the listing and closing price. Reputable agents should have no issue sharing this information, and will provide statistics from local multiple listing services (MLS) for comparison.
2. Do You Have Any Special Certifications?
Real estate, like other professions, offers areas of specialization that agents can pursue. Your candidate may be qualified as:
- An Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR): These agents work with buyer-clients along the entire process.
- A Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB): These agents have completed extensive educational and professional requirements. The CRB certification is one of the most respected in the industry.
- A Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES): These agents have completed real estate training geared toward serving clients over 50 years of age.
While missing extra certifications shouldn’t be a deal-breaker when choosing an agent, they can be helpful if you’re looking for someone who caters more specifically to your requirements.
3. Do You Have Any References?
Real estate is a people-facing business, and the best agents should have a list of previous clients. Typically you should ask for no less than three references, and the more recent they are, the better. When speaking with references, be sure to find out:
- If they had a pleasant experience working with the agent
- If they felt their needs were met
- If they would work with the agent again
Knowing Your Agent’s Process
Understanding how your agent works is important when it involves such a life-changing decision. The following 4 questions will demonstrate whether you and your agent would be a good fit during the process.
4. What is Your Marketing Strategy?
If you’re looking to find a new home, you need to ask your agent about their market plan and strategy. Specifically, they should tell you their initial search strategy, how many homes you should expect to view, and how much buyer competition there is in the area.
Hearing your agent’s selling strategy can also help you gauge their experience. Today’s marketing involves so much more than word-of-mouth and lawn signs. Do they use social media platforms like Facebook? What about email campaigns or direct mail flyers?
5. How Do You Communicate With Clients?
Agents should understand that every client is different, and should therefore adjust their communication practices accordingly. This is particularly important if you prefer phone calls and voice messages over newer communication methods like texts.
Once communication methods are decided, you need to lay the groundwork on protocol. What hours are best for you? Are certain contact numbers better at different times? Even if you do prefer emails and texts, you need to establish timeframes as to when to expect replies.
6. Are Our Devices Compatible with Each Other?
Every piece of technology, from smartphones and tablets to laptops, is different. Yet understanding the difference between Apple and Android products is beside the point: you need to ask your agent if they’ll check to make sure your devices are compatible with each other. This is especially important later in the buying process, which brings us to our next question.
7. Can You Walk Me Through Using Necessary Technology?
Technology has changed the way people do business, and real estate is no exception. Document signing, for example, is oftentimes done online, though some may also prefer using paper. Either way, your agent should be open to using whatever methods you feel most comfortable with.
In some cases, using new technology is unavoidable and agents may be required to use paperless methods by their agency. If this is the case, make sure they are willing to teach you how to use the required programs.
Offers and Closing
Once you’ve found the house of your dreams or are coming close to selling your home, it’s a crucial time for your agent to act. Knowing how they deal with this part of the process is essential to your confidence in their skills. Ask these 2 questions and you’ll see how experienced, considerate, and transparent they are.
8. How Do You Handle Offers?
While buyers typically present their own offers, some agents may want to present on their client’s behalf. It’s important to know early on how your agent expects to move forward.
Equally important is understanding how your agent handles multiple offers. Will your agent inform you if there are other offers on the table and how will this be dealt with? You need to feel that your agent has your best interests in mind and that they aren’t helping other clients interested in the same home without you knowing.
9. Can You Recommend Service Providers?
Closing a sale is only one part of buying or selling your home. Your real estate agent should be able to direct you to professionals in other areas involved in the real-estate process. If you’re buying a home, professionals you should be referred to include:
- Mortgage brokers
- Loan officers
- Home inspectors
- Home appraisers
- Insurance agents
- Title companies
An added benefit to asking for recommendations is that you can further gauge an agent’s experience and network. Also be sure to ask whether the agent has any affiliations with the companies they recommend, as this could mean the agent or agency receives compensation for referrals, resulting in you paying a premium to make up the difference.
The Right Agent is Out There
Moving isn’t always the easiest of times, but that doesn’t have to affect your excitement. By asking these 9 questions, you can decide much more easily if an agent is a good fit for your needs. The right agent will keep you well informed along every step of the process, all while using the technology and communication methods that you prefer.