Don't assume you can list with any real estate agent because all agents offer the same service for the same work. This isn't true. Like other industries, real estate agents can specialize, pursue additional education, and pick and choose the tools they use to execute the work. Interviewing real estate agents to find the right one must be part of your process of preparing to sell.
You want an experienced real estate agent who will:
- prioritize marketing your home
- be available for your calls and questions
- know your potential buyer pool
- help put the home’s best face forward
- be a team player
Why interview your listing real estate agent?
When you decide to use a real estate agent to sell your home, they effectively become your employee. You need to conduct the same due diligence as any human resources department would on prospective hires. Selling your home can be stressful. Real estate agents are professionals, but they’re people, too.
This interviewing process 's a two-way street. The real estate agent needs to see if you are a good fit for what they do. Real estate agents can and do fire clients. You could be working together for several months; a positive working relationship is essential.
The last thing you need when selling your home is a personality conflict.
Through the interview process, you'll determine if you will be a good fit for each other. You'll get a sense of their personality and how they conduct their business. If a real estate agent isn't asking you questions, especially about your motivation for selling, this may not be the right person to represent you in this important business transaction.
Real estate agent interviewing tips
During the interview stage, you are collecting information about each other. Interviews happen over the phone or at the agent’s office. Some listing agents prefer to have the interview at the home. Not all real estate agents have their initial interview at your home. Top producing agents may not tour your property until you've decided to work with them.
When you do sit down with the agent, have your questions ready to go. We've compiled a list of what to ask your prospective listing agent during your interview. Your best questions will be open-ended and give them space to talk. Avoid yes-no questions unless you're asking for clarification. Do give the agent time to ask you questions, too.
#1- Tell me about your career in residential real estate.
This question is intended to bring up the real estate agent's background. They should tell you how long they've been in the business, if they are a full-time or part-time agent, how many homes have closed, and any other important credentials they earned. Some real estate professionals have obtained additional education in the real estate industry. Examples would be Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI), a Seller Representative Specialist (SRS), or a professional home staging certification.
Experience makes a difference when it comes to selling your home. You want someone who takes real estate seriously. Of course, all real estate agents had to start somewhere. Recently licensed agents can be good ones, but it depends on the quality of their training and if they are working with competent and experienced mentors. With a quality training program backed by the support and resources to handle the deal, a newer agent might have more time to concentrate on you than a more experienced agent. This is an area for some follow-up questions if you have some concerns about their background.
Lots of real estate agents start as part-time while they transition careers, but think about what that means for the sale of your home. Will they be working all the time to get your home sold? Real estate agents gain knowledge while learning on the job, but you don't really want someone who views real estate as a side hustle or hobby.
#2- What's your average list price to sales price ratio?
Remember that buyers are trying to get the best deal possible while as a seller you're trying to gain as much value as possible. These two objectives are at odds with each other.
The best real estate agents have a record negotiating sales prices very close to the list price. This shows they really understand the current real estate market, what buyers are looking for, and how to position properties for the best results.
#3- How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood recently?
Every neighborhood has its special nuances and unique demographics. When a real estate agent consistently performs well in one particular area, they develop a deep knowledge of that community. Local neighborhood experts get a feel for what attracts people and they know how to leverage that in their marketing.
They're also paying attention to the upcoming developments that will make the neighborhood more attractive to prospective buyers. You’re not just selling your home. You're selling the neighborhood around you. A local expert who knows the area is an advantage.
Another way to test if the agent is a local expert is to ask about their favorite places in the area. If can't answer quickly or they don't answer accurately, they probably aren’t visiting your neighborhood often.
A local expert isn’t just a marketing advantage. This agent will negotiate better for you because they understand the features that make your property and the community attractive to the prospective buyers. If your home has something unique to your community, they’ll know how to use that when pricing and negotiating for your home.
In short, if an agent has sold quite a few homes in your area, there's a good chance that they will perform well for you.
#4- How many sales did you close last year?
The purpose behind this question is to gain reassurance the real estate agent knows what they're doing. There's no right or wrong answer to this number.
Follow up with the price range of the homes that agent has sold to see if they're actually working in your price bracket. Some real estate agents specialize in homes at specific price ranges. Agents with experience in your price range have a better idea of what those buyers are looking for at your list price.
Keep in mind an agent who sold 50 homes but is working below your price bracket may actually not be the better candidate than an agent who sold 30 homes but within your price bracket.
#5- How are you different from other real estate agents?
Any real estate agent should be able to tell you why they are the best person to list your home. Think about the qualities that you want in your real estate agent. Do you want someone who is assertive or an excellent negotiator? Do you want someone who's on top of communication? Perhaps you want a real estate agent that's a little more personal with a touch of humor.
With this question, you're trying to find the characteristics that you value.
#6- How will you communicate with me?
Problems usually boil down to a communication issue. To develop and nurture your relationship, similar communication styles and methods are essential. Real estate agents prefer to communicate in different ways. Some prefer to text rather than call you. Others might do a mix of communication strategies.
If you end up working with a real estate agent who sends you text messages when you would rather prefer a phone call, don't be surprised if you feel annoyed.
Take into account the frequency of communication. As a seller, you might want regular updates. Or, you might prefer just to hear when something important is happening. It really depends on you if you want a more laid-back agent or one that regularly updates you, even if nothing is happening.
#7- Will I be hearing from you or your team?
Figure out if your real estate agent will be handling all of your real estate transaction needs or if they're part of a team. There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods of selling. You could have more personalized serviced by working directly with an agent. However, working with a real estate team makes it easier to accommodate showings.
#8- How will you market my home?
What you're looking for here is a sense of strategy. They should walk into your home with a plan on how to make your property viewable and eye-catching to the channels that buyers visit. What are the tactics that this real estate agent uses to showcase this home in its best possible light?
In the digital world, it's crucial to market your property online. Ask if they are marketing through the local MLS, Zillow, Trulia, or other avenues. If they are not on websites like Zillow or Trulia, ask why or why not.
Check out if they're advertising online in other ways. Are they using social media to promote their listings? Do you have different options when it comes to photography? Depending on the list price of your home, your real estate agent may offer drone photography or 3D immersive video tours. These emerging technologies capture buyer attention and help market properties in new ways. However, speaking frankly, they're not worth the cost if your home is in the $100k price point.
Do go into details about how the real estate agent plans to market your home, especially as the list price increases. See if they plan to run a comprehensive campaign, host open houses, run mailings, have a dedicated property website, or other strategies.
#9- What are the drawbacks to my home?
This question is testing your real estate agent's honesty. Will they level with you? We have to accept that our properties aren't perfect. We could always do something to make them more attractive or better. The best answers to this question will be the features you will have to overcome who sell your property, like living near a natural gas line or a busy highway.
#10- How do you determine the listing price?
Save this question for real estate agents you are seriously considering. This is an important question, but only after you've decided this professional real estate agent and you will work well together.
The ability to cooperate on a listing price is crucial for selling your home. You want a fair price to attract prospective buyers and is representative of your home’s value. A fair price helps close the sale within a decent amount of time. If you price a home too high it will linger on the market and turn away potential buyers. If your home is priced too low, you risk losing some money on the deal.
#11- How long do you think it would take my home to sell?
Remember, this number is an estimate. Nothing is ever guaranteed. The average days on-market for Fort Worth might currently be 43 days, but your neighborhood has a unique market and selling cycle. Plus, the time of year you decide to list your property might influence the number of days on the market.
Expectations are always changing. What you're trying to see is the agent has done their local market research to give you a better idea of what to expect at your price point in your neighborhood.
#12- How much will it cost me to sell my home?
You need to know upfront about your end of the closing costs. What are the fees that you will be responsible for when it comes time to turn over the keys? These include broker commission and property taxes.
#13- May I have references?
Yes, real estate professionals will refer you to clients who have had an exceptionally positive service. But if they hesitate to provide you a list of satisfied references, that's the signal to avoid this real estate agent. Even if they send you to someone who gave them a glowing recommendation, ask that reference for the real estate agent's strengths and weaknesses.
Another option is to look at their online reviews. See testimonials added to their personal websites or go to the reviews hosted on other public forums. Just remember people are more likely to leave negative online reviews than positive.
#14- Can I see the listing agreement and forms ahead of time?
A good practice is always to review the paperwork before you sign the paperwork. Excellent real estate agents will make use forms available to you so you have the time to review them before you sign them. You’ll want to see the agency disclosure, listing agreement, and seller disclosure forms.
Pay attention to the guarantees in the documents. See if the agent will let you cancel the listing if you realize that you're unhappy with the arrangement.
Most listing agreements are structured as an exclusive right to sell. This gives a real estate agent the right to earn their pay by representing you in a real estate transaction. It prevents you from selling the property on your own and not paying the agent a commission during the agreement phase.
#15- Do you have any questions for me?
Again, this is giving the real estate agent time to ask about your selling goals or to learn more about the property. Their level of engagement will hint at how engaged they will be with you as their client.
Ready to find a real estate agent?
Take these questions with you when you interview your next real estate agent. At the Chicotsky Real Estate Group, we encourage you to give us a call. We’d love you to consider us your real estate agent for your Fort Worth property needs. We have years of experience listing and positioning properties in the best possible light. You can see it in our online reviews how we have helped our clients through the selling process.