We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Buying or selling your home will probably be the largest personal financial transaction you’ll ever make. For that reason, choosing the realtor to help you do that has to be done carefully. Your realtor should be equal to the task: someone you trust, someone with experience, and someone who is dedicated to his or her profession with your interests at heart.
Below are my answers drawn from my 28 years of experience in this industry. These are just some of the many vital questions you might ask as you make this decision. Interview a realtor like you might interview an employee! Check them out online, through personal referrals, and on the various social media channels. Ask lots of questions. It’s worth it.
1. Should I use a relative or friend for my realtor? They say they can save me a lot of money.
Here’s what we’ve found: Having a friend or relative realtor is generally NOT a good idea because it can easily backfire big time. Unless your relative is a crackerjack full-timer who specializes in your neighborhood, pass. A deal gone badly can breed resentment. There are a lot of great agents, and many that are just so-so. What if they’re that last one? Better to keep them as friends. Oh, if it’s your cousin or an in-law, you’re going to be happier by using someone else. Trust me.
2. Is it okay to use a part time realtor?
I’d be sure to ask the realtor if they’re full time or part time! I’ve found that realtors who work 40 or 50 hours across 5-7 days every week are extremely committed to my needs and give the best value. Besides, if it’s your home you’re either buying or selling, don’t you want someone who’s working full time?
3. How many years of experience should a great realtor have?
My advice is that realtors should have 5+ years and be able to provide examples of facilitating 20 or more home purchases or 20 or more home sales, depending on if you are buying or selling your home. With more years of experience comes additional transactions, and thus extra knowledge for wisely handling and resolving unique situations. If you asked a realtor with 10+ years’ experience at what point they felt they were best prepared to represent their clients, most would say after 5 years.
4. What kinds of negotiating experience should realtors have?
Again, a home is the biggest asset you will ever buy or sell. Your realtor’s negotiating proficiency is important in at least two areas.
a. Determining the best price to buy or sell real estate, market conditions, buyer and seller tendencies, etc. can impact the home prices by $1,000’s. If you price the house too high and it doesn’t sell in a timely manner, it may be on the market much longer than expected delaying your purchase of another home, and messing up your plans horribly.
b. Carefully reviewing and negotiating the purchase and sale agreement (if you’re doing both) is crucial. An item that is glossed over on the contract can cost thousands of dollars. Case in point: a buyer purchasing a home expected the appliances to be left in the home but found out after escrow closed that the seller had taken them. The buyer’s realtor had not included them in the purchase contract, costing the buyer over $6,000 to replace the appliances. Details count big time.
Additional suggestion: MAKE SURE to review their YELP profile and rating. Is it 4-5 stars?
5. How important is it for the realtor to know the neighborhood? Can I pick someone online?
You absolutely want someone who is familiar with the general area in which you plan to purchase. That’s why online realtors may not be the best bet. In addition, it is very helpful if the realtor has a working knowledge of specific parts of your target neighborhood. For instance, Orange County, California spans 948 square miles! Your realtor will best serve you if they have plenty of experience in the few cities you may be looking to buy. Each area may have a uniqueness that needs to be considered, such as schools, activities, traffic and accessibility to cultural or sporting events! Make sure to ASK THE REALTOR their familiarity with the geography based on your family’s needs and interests.
6. What differentiates this realtor from other realtors?
Ask the realtor why they’re in the industry. What are their success stories? Can you hear passion in their voice and a SINCERE desire to help you find your dream home? Ask how they connect with the international community to find the highest bidder to purchase your home. The best agents will easily explain why and how they are successful, and it will not be a sales pitch. They will be glad to tell their success stories.
7. How do we find a realtor that is available around our work hours and family activities?
Our advice: ASK THE REALTOR, “What days and hours do you work?” If the realtor works 8-5, M-F and you need weekends—the realtor is not a good fit for you. Keep looking.
Bottom line: Ask a lot of questions to find the best realtor match for you. Ask your neighbors. Ask co-workers or your human resources manager if you’re moving in from out of town. The best realtor is a full-time professional who has a combination of experience, personality, negotiating skills, passion, and availability. Don’t settle for the first realtor or the best sales pitch.
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