Choosing the right real estate agent to represent your interests is the most important step to ensuring your real estate transaction will be successful. Here are some questions you should ask all prospective Realtors. If the person you are interviewing falls short and can’t substantiate or hedges in any way, you’re interviewing the wrong one! Make sure an agent can back up any and all statements. Take a “show me” attitude; you have a great deal riding on their ability to sell your home!
1. Is the candidate a full-time or part-time agent?
You should only be looking for a full-time committed real estate agent who relies completely on the income they earn by selling real estate to support themselves and their family. An agent who also earns income outside the real estate industry will not feel as significant of a financial hit by not selling your home as they would if the relied completely on the income from your home sale to support themselves financially. Some part-timers are just dabbling in the business to make a little extra money or because they aren’t good enough yet to make a living full-time. You’ll want someone who lives, eats and breathes real estate, because they rely on real estate to live, eat, and breathe.
2. How long has the agent been practicing?
In a softening market, you’ll probably want someone who has been a licensed agent for at least five years or an agent who is part of a team led by a highly experienced agent. In past years when the market was extremely “hot,” thousands of agents entered the business and were able to sell homes in spite of their poor sales skills. With changing market conditions where high inventories and lower prices are now the norm, many agents who have been in the business for less than five years simply don’t have the skills and knowledge necessary to get your home sold because they have never practiced in a “normal” real estate market.
3. How many homes has the agent sold in the last consecutive 12 months?
This is important to ask because it demonstrates an agent’s track record. Don’t allow an agent to skip over this question; make sure the agent has documented proof of their sales track record. An agent or team selling less than 15 homes per year can mean they are operating on a part-time basis, or is highly inefficient at generating buyers for their listings. Can you imagine hiring a doctor for open-heart surgery who has performed less than 15 operations in the past year? Would this make you more or less comfortable with their abilities?
4. Does the agent have a clear and defined plan of action that states exactly what will be done to sell your home?
This is a big one. This is where you find out if an agent relies on passive or active marketing techniques. Passive marketing is where an agent lists the home, puts a sign in the yard, enters it into MLS, runs a newspaper ad or two, and sits waiting for a buyer to call. Active marketing means an agent aggressively spends their time looking for and talking to people who want to buy and sell homes. There are a host of systems specifically designed to find and locate buyers. Make sure your agent specifically identifies the systems they use.
5. How well does the agent know the market stats?
This is another big one. Your agent should know the answers to the following: How many homes are currently on the market? How many homes came on the market within the last 30 days? How many homes have sold in the last 30 days? Also, ask agents for their average time on the market per home sale as compared to other agents and to the market as a whole. Based on these numbers, how many months of inventory are currently available to buy? An agent who is not absolutely clear as to the answers of these questions is not effectively serving their client. This data is required to accurately price and strategically present the property to create a successful sale. An agent who is not evaluating the data on a regular basis would be like a doctor guessing how to treat you before examining you to see what was wrong.
6. Does the agent work alone or have a professional staff assisting throughout the entire sales process?
With all of the activities required to get a home sold and closed in today’s market, will the agent get bogged down with the day-to-day office activities? Make sure your agent has paid staff including a listing manager, transaction coordinator, and an office manager. Would you rather your agent be out looking for and generating a buyer for your home, or be sitting in the office processing paperwork?
7. Is the agent involved in continuous ongoing training, along with regularly practicing and updating their skills?
The business of selling is very much like developing the skills of a professional athlete. Professional football players practice and update their skills 80 hours per week for a 60-minute game on Sunday. The morning after Tiger Woods wins an international PGA Title, he is out on the driving range practicing and updating his skills. Is the agent you are interviewing actively committed to ongoing training and updating their skills, or did they learn the business when it was easy are just “winging it” today?
KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME BEFORE YOU SELL
Whether you’re staying or selling, knowing the value of your home can be very beneficial. You might be selling your home, refinancing, making improvements, or getting a line of credit, you should always be-in-the-know.
If you’ve been thinking of doing any of those things with your home, we purchased access to an up-to-date Central Oregon home sales estimator tool that tells you what price your home will sell for based on neighborhood sales data.