39 Questions To Ask a Realtor When Selling Your Home
Table of Contents
Don’t Get Burned by a Bad Agent:
Protect Yourself by Asking These Crucial Questions When Selling Your Home
When it comes to buying or selling a home, working with a real estate agent can be a huge help. A good agent can guide you through the process, provide valuable insights and advice, and make sure that everything runs smoothly.
However, not all agents are created equal. It’s important to do your due diligence and ask the right questions so that you don’t hire the wrong agent. We’ve compiled these questions to help you make the most clear decision, before choosing an agent, to ensure that you are working with someone who is qualified, experienced, and capable of meeting your needs.
In this post, we’ll provide a list of crucial questions to ask a real estate agent before hiring them, along with answers to help you make an informed decision.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction: Sarah’s tale of avoidable pain
Picture this: A quiet evening at home, the wind whispering through the trees, as Sarah reflects on the treasured memories she’s made within the walls of her beloved abode. What she doesn’t realize is that she’s on the brink of a challenging journey, born of a well-intended decision that lacked foresight.
In her search for the ideal real estate agent, Sarah, like many before her, chose familiarity over expertise. She entrusted her cousin, a novice in the world of real estate, with the responsibility of selling her home, believing that familial ties would bring her success. Sadly, this decision led to a series of disappointments.
As days turned to weeks and weeks to months, Sarah’s home languished on the market, a testament to her cousin’s lack of experience and knowledge about the local market. Her property seemed lost in a sea of uncertainty, and Sarah bore the brunt of her decision.
When the dust finally settled, Sarah’s home sold for far less than she had envisioned, a harsh reminder that relying on family connections doesn’t always pay off.
In the aftermath, Sarah gained a newfound wisdom and vowed to share her story as a cautionary tale for those who might follow in her footsteps. The lesson is clear: when searching for the right person to sell your home, don’t let sentimentality cloud your judgment.
Instead, embark on a journey to find an agent who boasts a wealth of experience, the right qualifications, and a deep understanding of the market. Ask about their past successes, the strategies they use to showcase your home’s unique story, and their connections to ensure your property stands out in a competitive landscape.
By choosing a knowledgeable and trustworthy ally, you can ensure that your home-selling journey is one of triumph and success, transforming your property from a forgotten listing to a prized gem that finds its way into the hands of a new owner.
I. Qualifications, experience, and expertise
Before starting any journey, it is important to know where you want to end up. Because of this I’m sharing our client’s questions with you that I’ve been asked time and time again over decades of transactions to help you navigate the landscape before you. Some of these questions may seem obvious, wisdom is often found in the most humbling places.
Are you a real estate agent?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to confirm that the person you are considering hiring is actually a licensed realtor. In most states, real estate agents must complete a certain amount of education and pass a licensing exam before they are able to practice.
What is your real estate agent license number?
In addition to confirming that an agent is licensed, it’s also a good idea to ask for their license number. This will allow you to verify their real estate license status and check for any disciplinary actions or complaints on record with the state licensing board.
Do you work with a team, or do you handle everything on your own?
Some agents work as part of a team, while others prefer to handle everything on their own. There are pros and cons to both approaches. Working with a team can provide extra support and resources, but it can also lead to confusion and miscommunication. Ask deeper questions about how the team functions like:
- What team members exist?
- Who is responsible for what?
- How will you interact with the team?
- Who to contact if there is a problem?
While some people assume working with an individual agent may provide more personalized service, our client’s favorite part of working with us is having one on one attention by their agent with the support of a team behind them to ensure their needs are met.
Can you provide references?
Reading online reviews and asking for references from past clients is a great way to get a sense of an agent’s work style and level of service. Make sure to follow up on the references and ask about their experiences with the agent, including any challenges or issues that may have arisen during the process of buying or selling.
How long have you been a real estate agent?
Experience can be a valuable asset in an agent. While it’s not necessarily a requirement to have been in the business for a long time, an agent with more experience may have a deeper understanding of the market and be better equipped to handle any challenges that may arise during a transaction.
Something our clients love is the fact that even if they choose to work with one of our ultra enthusiastic junior agents, that they have the full support of the senior advisors throughout the entire process if and when any issues arise.
What designations or certifications do you hold?
In addition to their real estate license, some agents choose to pursue additional designations or certifications to further their knowledge and skills. These might include the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) or the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR). While these designations are not required, they can be a good indication of an agent’s commitment to ongoing education and professional development.
What areas do you specialize in?
Some realtors specialize in certain types of properties or areas. For example, an agent who primarily works with luxury homes may not be the best fit for someone looking to sell a starter home. It’s important to find an agent who has experience and expertise in the type of property you are buying or selling.
Have you recently sold homes in my neighborhood?
An agent who is familiar with your neighborhood may have a better understanding of the market conditions locally and be able to provide more targeted advice. They may also have connections with other professionals or resources in the area that could be helpful during the buying or selling process.
One of our client’s favorite services is that we provide team leadership regardless of the senior advisor’s direct local knowledge. Meaning, we will find you the best local agent and manage the transaction, negotiation, diligence, contracts, and financing for you, while we work hand in hand with the local agent to make sure you get the best results every transaction.
II. Approach to marketing and selling properties
When it comes to selling a property, the right marketing and sales approach can make a huge difference. A good real estate agent should have a comprehensive strategy for promoting your property to prospective buyers and negotiating the best final selling price. That’s why it’s important to ask a potential agent about their approach to marketing and selling properties.
Some key questions to ask a realtor when selling: What is your overall marketing strategy? How do you plan to position my property in the market beyond the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)? What specific tactics will you use to promote my property? How do you plan to differentiate my property from others on the market? These questions can give you an idea of an agent’s experience and success in marketing and selling properties.
It’s also a good idea to ask for examples of properties they have successfully sold in the past and how they were able to achieve a good selling price. By asking the right questions and getting a sense of an agent’s history, you can ensure that you are working with someone who has a proven history of success and a clear plan for getting your property in front of the right buyers and their buyer’s agent.
What is your approach to marketing and selling properties?
It’s important to understand how an agent plans to market and sell your property. Ask about their strategies and techniques, such as how they will promote your home online and offline, and what marketing materials they will use.
Smart sellers also ask their agent:
- What should be done to enhance the property’s value before listing?
- Are there any necessary home improvements that will damage my negotiation power?
- Do you recommend any professional services before we list?
- What do we do if the property doesn’t get enough interest?
- How long do we wait before making market positioning adjustments
- Is there anything I should know about the current state of the market and how it could impact the sale of my home?
How do you communicate with your clients?
Effective communication is key in the real estate industry. Make sure to ask a prospective agent about their communication style and availability. Will they keep you updated on a regular basis? How do they prefer to be contacted?
How do you handle negotiations on behalf of your clients?
Negotiating is a critical aspect of the buying or selling process. Ask an agent about their negotiation style and whether they are comfortable advocating for their clients’ interests. Go deeper, challenge them, don’t be afraid of being perceived as rude or pushy. This is your chance to test their metal.
Pro tip: If an agent can’t stand up for themselves, how in the world will they stand up for you?
How do you stay up to date on market trends and changes in real estate laws?
The real estate market and laws can change quickly, so it’s important for an agent to stay informed. Ask a prospective agent about how they stay up to date on market trends and changes in real estate laws, and whether they have any additional resources or professionals they can turn to for guidance.
How did you arrive at your suggested list price?
In order to make sure your house sells, you want to avoid wasting time with listing at an inflated price if your goal is to achieve top dollar and avoid your sale falling through.
When it comes to properly position a property on the market, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the market conditions locally and how the comparable sales, and active listings, will impact buyer’s perspective of your home.
Many sellers get steered by greed that isn’t based in reality or data causing them to list far above the right price. This almost always causes a seller to lose precious time and money in the long run.
Time is money: A home that sits on the market for lengthy periods of time will undoubtedly be burdened by the black stain of market decay.
Ask an agent about their process for determining how they will position your home on the market in order to generate you the highest net proceeds of sale, and make sure that their recommendation is backed by data to make sure you get your house sold within your timeframe.
The answer you get needs to be backed by data
As mentioned above, it’s important for a prospective agent to have a good understanding of the local market and comparable sales. Make sure to ask for data to support their suggested listing prices, such as a comparative market analysis (CMA) or other information on recent sales in the area.
Who do you think the buyer for my home will be?
An agent with a good understanding of the local market and your property’s unique selling points should be able to provide insight into who they think the most likely buyers for your home will be.
Pro Tip: Without knowing who the target buyer is, your marketing will fall flat on it’s face.
What are the selling features of my home?
Every property has its own unique selling points. Ask an agent about the key features of your home that they will highlight during the marketing and sales process.
How do you plan on marketing to my target buyers?
A good agent should be able to tailor their marketing efforts to reach the most likely buyers for your property. Ask them about their strategies for targeting specific demographics or types of buyers and how they intend to attract more buyers than their competitors.
What is your marketing strategy?
In addition to the specific tactics they will use to promote your home, it’s also a good idea to ask an agent about their overall marketing strategy. How do they plan to position your property in the market? What will they do to differentiate your property from others on the market? How do they plan to reach interested buyers and their buyer’s agent? A comprehensive marketing and advertising strategy can help ensure that your property gets maximum exposure and stands out from the competition. Some tactics that experienced agents may use as part of their marketing and advertising strategy could include:
- Advertising your property through various channels, such as online listings, social media, and print media.
- Creating marketing materials, such as brochures or virtual tours, to showcase your property’s features.
- Hosting open houses or other events to attract potential buyers.
- Utilizing their network of professionals and resources to help promote your property.
- Collaborating with other agents or brokers to reach a wider audience of potential buyers.
- Utilizing different pricing models
- Deploying different styles of sales
By understanding an agent’s overall marketing and advertising strategy, you can have a better idea of how they plan to get your property in front of the most buyers and what efforts they will make to differentiate your property from others on the market.
III. Fees and references
When it comes to hiring a real estate agent, it’s important to be clear on the fees and commissions you will be responsible for. Other realtors and agents may have different fee structures, so it’s essential to ask about these upfront. Probe the agent about their fees include how they calculate their fees, what services are included in their fee, and any additional closing costs you may incur like attorney fees.
It’s also a good idea to ask for references from previous clients and to carefully evaluate the feedback you receive. This can give you a sense of an agent’s past experiences with clients and any challenges they may have faced. Asking for references can also give you an idea of an agent’s network of professionals and resources they can provide to you as a client.
Tell me the experience of your past clients?
Ask an agent about their past experiences with clients, including any challenges or issues that may have arisen during the process of buying or selling. This can give you a sense of their level of service and how well they handle challenges.
Has anything ever gone wrong in a deal?
An agent that can’t admit they’ve had or seen problems might be a red flag.
No real estate transaction is without its challenges. It’s important to find out how an agent handles problems when they arise, and who they have to support them if things go awry. Ask if they have ever had a deal go wrong, and how they dealt with the situation.
Do you have XYZ in your network?
A major advantage to working with a realtor who has the backing of a well coordinated team is having access to their vast network of professionals and resources. Depending on what you are selling, you may need the help of several people for your sale.
For example, you may need the services of the team lead or the advice of the actual broker, perhaps you have specialized lending needs and would benefit from a mortgage broker, insurance broker, handyman, house cleaning company, or moving company. Sometimes, a buyer’s lending will be on the verge of falling apart, how will your listing agent help the buyer get across the finish line so you get paid?
Ask an agent about their network and whether they have any preferred professionals they work with.
How much do you charge and what is included in your fee?
Fees are an important consideration when hiring an agent. Make sure to ask about their fees and what is included in their services. Some agents charge a flat fee, while others charge a percentage of the sale price. Just remember, there are reasons professionals charge more than amateurs.
Pro tip: As the old adage goes “you get what you pay for. Nothing of quality is free (or cheap) in life.”
Can I cancel our contract?
It’s important to understand the terms of your contract with a listing agent and a buyer’s agent, including whether you have the ability to cancel the listing agreement, or buyer’s agency agreement if you are not satisfied with their services. Not all listing agents are the same, and there is no “standard listing agreement”. Make sure to ask about the terms of the contract and any fees or penalties associated with canceling.
Tell me the best way to get my house ready?
Preparing your home for sale can be a big undertaking. A good listing agent should be able to provide guidance on what steps you can take to make your home more appealing to buyers, such as staging, decluttering, or making repairs.
Have you recently sold homes in my neighborhood?
This is an important question to ask a potential listing agent. A listing agent who is familiar with your neighborhood will have a better understanding of the market conditions locally and be able to provide targeted advice. They may also have connections with other professionals or resources in the area that could be helpful during the buying or selling process.
For example, a top local agent who is familiar with your neighborhood will be able to provide insight into local schools, amenities, and community events. This can be especially important if you are moving to a new area and want to get a sense of what it’s like to live there. Experienced local agents who are familiar with the neighborhood may also have relationships with local contractors, a professional photographer, or service providers who could be helpful during the process of buying or selling.
By working with the right real estate agent who is familiar with your neighborhood, you can get a better sense of what to expect from the local market and how to best position your property for success. Don’t underestimate the value of a local agent who is familiar with the area – it can make a big difference in your buying or selling experience.
Tell me the success rate?
Ask a listing agent about their success rate in terms of how many of their listings have sold and how quickly they have sold. This can give you an idea of their strength and level of experience.
Can you also help me find a home to buy?
If you are both buying and selling a home, it can be helpful to work with an agent who can assist with both transactions. Ask an agent if they offer both buying and selling services and whether they have experience with both.
In which neighborhoods do you specialize?
As mentioned earlier, some agents specialize in certain types of properties or areas., while many agents don’t specialize at all. Make sure to ask an agent about their areas of specialization to ensure that they have the knowledge and experience to assist with your particular needs.
In summary, it’s important to ask the right questions before hiring a real estate agent to ensure that you have a clear understanding of their fees and have the necessary information to make an informed decision. Asking for references can also protect your interests by giving you a sense of an agent’s past experiences and their ability to provide valuable resources during the buying or selling process.
IV. Other considerations
There are a few other factors to consider when choosing a real estate agent, beyond just their qualifications, experience, and approach to marketing and selling properties. An agent’s availability, sale to asking price ratio, and process for vetting buyers are all important to keep in mind.
It’s important to ask an agent about their availability and how they balance their work with other responsibilities. You’ll want to work with someone who is responsive and able to make time for you. Asking about their sale to asking price ratio can also give you an idea of their negotiation strength in terms of securing top dollar for their clients, or can help you better understand pricing strategies and the current market conditions. Finally, it’s essential to ask about an agent’s process for vetting buyers to ensure that they are financially qualified, have an iron-clad pre approval letter and are ready to purchase a property.
By asking the right questions, you can make sure that you are working with an agent who is well-equipped to meet your needs and help you achieve your real estate goals. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions – it’s your investment on the line, after all!
Are you a part-time or full-time agent?
Some agents are full-time professionals, while many real estate agents may have other jobs or responsibilities in addition to their real estate work. Make sure to ask about an agent’s availability and how much time they can devote to your needs. The amount of time someone commits to a career is usually a strong indicator of how skilled they will be.
Having a real estate license doesn’t mean you know what you are doing.
How many clients are you working with?
A busy agent is generally a good agent. Sadly, many agents are part-time weekend warriors who won’t care or know how to resolve issues in your sale created by their lack of marketing and negotiation skill. You want to make sure they sell your house under the best terms and best price.
What is your sale to list price ratio?
The sale to list price ratio is the percentage of the final selling price compared to the original asking price. A high ratio may indicate that an agent is able to secure the best price for their clients, while a low ratio may suggest that they are struggling to get close to the initial asking price.
How will you vet the buyer?
Vetting potential buyers is an important part of the selling process. Make sure to ask an agent about their process for evaluating buyers and ensuring that they are financially qualified to purchase your property.
How do you interview a realtor for selling a house?
The burning question, “How do you interview a potential realtor?” When interviewing potential agents, it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure that you are working with someone who is qualified, experienced, and capable of meeting your needs. In addition to the questions outlined in this post, you may also want to ask about their communication style, availability, and negotiation skills.
What should you not say when selling a house?
There are a few things you should avoid saying when selling your home and a great agent will know how to guide you properly to make sure you achieve the highest net proceeds possible without exposing yourself to legal risk.
- Knowing what you should and shouldn’t disclose about the property or the neighborhood could land you in legal trouble and cost you money.
- Making any false claims about the condition of the home can be considered fraud.
- It’s important to be honest and transparent during the transaction process, while balancing this with strong salesmanship.
What should I ask my agent before making an offer?
Often times when selling your house, you’ll also be looking to purchase a new home. There are many different strategies to solve the problems of selling and buying a replacement home at the same time. Some problems an inexperienced agent won’t perceive or have a solution for are:
- Avoiding becoming homeless due to poor strategic planning when selling your property
- Avoiding taking sub-optimal offers on your home due to capital needs for a new purchase
- Making rush decisions on your replacement home because of poor planning
- Not being able to close on your sale because you can’t find a replacement property
Before making an offer on a property, it’s important to ask your agent for as much information as possible about the home and the seller. This might include information about the home’s condition, any issues or repairs that have been made, and the seller’s motivations for selling.
How long have you been a real estate agent?
Experience may be the most important factor to consider when choosing an agent. Make sure to ask about an agent’s experience level and how long they have been in the industry.
Asking the right questions before hiring a real estate agent can help protect your interests during the buying or selling process. By taking the time to understand an agent’s qualifications, experience, and approach, you can make an informed decision and choose an agent who is well-suited to meet your needs. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned seller, these questions will help you find the right agent to guide you through the process.
We help home buyers and home sellers navigate transactions seamlessly with as little stress as possible so our clients achieve prosperity, security, and joy through property ownership.
The James Ruff Group LLC is a top luxury real estate agency, affiliated with the National Association of Realtors, REBNY, and Harvard Business School. Making sure you achieve the best price and terms is guaranteed or we pay you. We’re down-to-earth, honest, and straightforward and here to help you through one of the biggest decisions of your life. We won’t rest until you’re 100% satisfied. Contact us today to get started!
James R. Ruff
About the Author
James R. Ruff – With 30+ years in real estate construction, investing, and brokerage, having studied at Harvard Business School, James Ruff leads The James Ruff Group Real Estate Brokerage Firm as Principal Broker and Owner.
Operating from offices at Madison Park in Manhattan, New York, The South of Fifth in Miami, Florida, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, his team of expert advisors specializes in luxury residential and commercial properties throughout the USA.
James Ruff’s team is dedicated to helping you build wealth, security, and happiness through quality real estate guidance, one transaction at a time, for a lifetime.
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