Interviewing agents? 5 questions to ask
Your buyer’s agent will be facilitating one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make. It’s an important choice and one to make carefully. (No pressure, right?!)
Since knowing which questions to ask a potential agent will make the process smoother, we’ve put them together for you.
Word of mouth: Ask for recs
What’s one of the first things you do when you’re looking for a professional to perform repairs on your car or install something in your home? Or even to figure out what new place you should try out for dinner? If you’re like most people, you start asking your friends, family members and colleagues for recommendations. The same goes when searching for a real estate agent.
Listening to the experiences of your people can give you a short list of agents to consider, and likely a list of agents NOT to consider. Keep in mind, however, not to go solely on someone’s recommendation. You’ll need to know whether your needs are the same. If your friend used a certain agent to sell their home, but you’re buying a home, that agent might not be right for you. Additionally, just because an agent is popular in your area doesn’t mean they’re the right one for you. For example, if your home needs are very different from their specialty, i.e.,they sell four bedroom colonials on sprawling lawns and you’re interested in a condo with shared amenities, you might look elsewhere.
Speaking of recommendations…
That’s another thing you want from a good buyer’s agent. Off the top of your head, you’re probably not going to know the best place to go for title insurance, a home inspection or even a mortgage lender. Your agent, however, should have that kind of information ready and be able to point you in the right direction.
Ask about their experience
Everyone has to start somewhere, of course. But you want an agent who has been through the process. Experienced agents should know about the area, yes, but they’ll also know the right questions to ask to help determine your exact needs. (Spoiler alert: you might not even be able to articulate these…outsider knowledge really helps!) Because it will save both of you time as you start touring houses, it’s vital to the process.
Show me the money
Ask any potential buyer’s agent whether they require clients to have pre-qualification or pre-approval before looking at homes and the answer should be a resounding, “Of course!” Without checking for this pre-approval before showing homes, an agent wastes not only their time, but their client’s time. Your agent’s job is to act as a home buying oracle: one who is wise in all (ok, most) ways of purchasing a new domicile.
They should keep your wishes and wildest dreams in mind, of course, but they MUST keep your limits at the forefront as well. If you absolutely cannot afford a home, they shouldn’t schedule you to see it. Think of them as your advocate + accountability partner. And maybe also your hype man, when the seller has a number of buyers from which to choose.
The proof is in the pudding, erm, the reviews
Yes, we already mentioned asking your friends to recommend a buyer’s agent, but it’s also a good idea to seek out reviews from total strangers. Enter the online review. As with most service-based industries, you’ll find that kind of information on various websites, and it’s smart to take heed of what you find. While one or two bad reviews can sometimes be chalked up to a fluke or personal differences, keep an eye out for issues that repeatedly surface.
Obtaining satisfactory answers to the above questions should see you well on your way to landing a great agent. (No guarantees, of course, but our fingers are crossed!). Still, be sure to listen to your intuition. If you’re not comfortable with an agent or you don’t feel they’re really listening to you (even if they’re the top-rated agent in the area), consider continuing your search.
Remember, you’re going to be looking for the perfect home with this person as your co-pilot. You need to be comfortable telling them anything, whether it’s that you can’t possibly buy this place because it has awful wallpaper or that home because it has a poltergeist (“They’re heeeeere”), and know they’ll have your back.