August 18th, 2016 at 11:00 am

questions to ask your agent

Buying or selling a home is something most of us will do only a few times in our life. So it’s important to approach any real estate transaction armed with knowledge. Of course, you want an experienced real estate professional to help guide you through each step of the process.

When it comes to selecting the right agent, referrals from friends and family are among the most trusted options. Combing through online reviews and social media platforms are increasing in popularity as well.

Yet for all the advice you can uncover, there are some questions you might be “too afraid” to ask a current or potential agent. So we invited some longtime agents to help us compile several questions that they feel clients are shy about asking.

Don’t be afraid. Ask away. If you don’t like the answers you receive, move on to another agent before you move on with your home purchase or sale.

How is your commission determined?

A homeowner and the selling agent negotiate the commission at the time of the listing. The anticipated sales price determines the amount of the commission. The rate for traditional single-family homes valued at under $1 million is usually 5 to 6 percent. For properties over $1 million, the commission might be 4 to 5 percent. The agent typically proposes the commission, but as the seller you can negotiate the percentage.

Did you know? As a buyer, you don’t pay your real estate agent, they split the commission with the seller’s agent, unless you agree to pay half or assume the commission costs.

What will you specifically do to market my home?

The answers you receive will vary, but what you’re really looking for is someone with a plan. If an agent can readily speak to what he or she has in mind to promote your home, they might already be ahead of the game. Real estate agents are in the business of sales, and if they can’t tell you what their game plan is, how well do you think they are going to do when going to work for you?

What is the difference between an agent, a REALTOR®, and a broker?

The real estate profession is regulated by state governments, which have different requirements for earning a license. In general, though, the titles you will come across include:

Why are you in this business?

You are looking to form a professional relationship with someone, so don’t be afraid to ask this kind of question to reveal the agent’s motivation, personality, history, and work ethic. It’s not to say you have to pick someone with whom you will be the best of friends, but you do want to work with an agent who you can feel comfortable communicating with honestly, whose advice you will trust, and who you know will work to be your advocate along the way. Chances are, any agent will love to tell you exactly why they are in this business.

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What sets your company apart from competitors?

It isn’t necessarily the number of homes or total sales volume that matter when it comes to selecting a brokerage. Ask about resources. Does the company have strong partnerships with lenders, inspectors, title companies, insurance agents, surveyors, repair services? Does it have alliances with international websites to help market your home to the growing number of international buyers? Is it on a sound financial foundation? Very importantly, are its agents well-trained and devoted to providing superior customer service?

One last thing: If your agent isn’t asking you questions, you might want to think about hiring someone else.

What other questions do you have about real estate? Ask us in the comments! 

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