Ready to make one of the biggest financial transactions of your life?
When you think of a home purchase in those terms, your choice of real estate agent becomes much more crucial. A home purchase is a legal obligation, and carries lifelong financial implications. It's a process that requires the skilled, personal attention of an expert real estate agent.
Before hiring a real estate agent, learn more about their services and personality through a basic interview. Not sure what to ask? Get the interview rolling with this quick list of eight questions to ask your real estate agent.
Question 1: How much time can you devote to my home search?
The range of acceptable answers to this question is huge. Focus more on an agent’s subconscious response. Is an agent checking his watch every 12 seconds? Is she responding to emails in the middle of your meeting? These cues are clear cut evidence that you’re really not that important. Keep searching.
Question 2: How long have you worked in real estate?
Everyone deserves a chance to get started, but buyers should exercise caution before hiring a rookie.
Question 3: How long have you worked in this area?
Real estate is a local business. Even if your agent has worked in real estate for 50 years, ample local experience is a must.
Question 4: Do you require that I sign a buyer’s agreement?
Most agents require that you sign a buyer’s agency agreement before you begin working together. The agreement can take several forms, but usually requires you to work exclusively with one agent during the length of the agreement.
And that’s not a bad thing. An agent’s not going to work tirelessly on your behalf if there’s a good chance you’re going to buy a home through another broker. The buyer’s agreement simply defines the terms of your relationship, and helps both parties move toward the end goal: a home purchase.
Question 5: What if our relationship isn’t working? Can I cancel the agreement at any time?
This is an important one. If you do sign a buyer’s agreement, make sure you understand the length of the agreement, and what you can do if the relationship isn’t working.
Question 6: Will you show me for sale by owner (FSBO) properties?
FSBO properties can understandably cause an agent’s blood pressure to spike. It’s usually more difficult to show and sell FSBO properties, and some FSBO owners refuse to pay the buyer’s agent a commission.
If you’re crazy about FSBO properties, definitely ask your agent this question. But don’t be surprised (or deterred) if an agent is skittish about showing FSBOs.
Question 7: Have you worked with military buyers before?
Military buyers make frequent use of the VA loan program. Experienced agents know that the VA program requires a separate VA appraisal, which holds properties to unique standards (also known as Minimum Property Requirements, or MPRs).
If you’re planning on using a VA loan, make sure your agent is familiar with those standards.
Question 8: Why should I pick you to be my agent?
Agents should answer this question with ease. Good agents are aware of their competitive advantages, and know how to sell themselves to a potential client.
Of course, there’s a balance here. You certainly want to avoid a response like this: “Um, well, I’ve never been asked that before…let me see…”
But you may also want to steer clear of the over-slicked, high-pressure, low-scruples salesperson. Go with your gut, and pick someone who feels right to you.