Buying or selling a piece of property is a huge undertaking, and there’s a lot of money in play. Having some reservations is only natural when you start thinking about the percentage commissions typically paid to a realtor.
As tempting as it might be to eschew the use of a real estate agent in the name of saving a few bucks, it’s not always a good idea. Realtors boast expertise in negotiations and contract management, and they often have powerful marketplace connections. Ultimately, hiring a realtor often puts more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
Wondering how to find the right realtor for your upcoming purchase or sale? It usually starts with a personal connection.
Get Some Recommendations
Realtors are people that you’ll be working closely together with during the buying/selling process. Finding someone personable, warm, and caring is just as important as finding someone with knowledge and expertise. You want to know that the realtor is on your team and will offer useful guidance.
Friends, family members, or anyone else you trust can be great sources for realtor recommendations. Many people end up on friendly terms with their own realtors, having spent considerable time together. Odds are, someone will be happy to pass along a good lead.
Interview Your Realtor
While personal recommendations and online reviews are both great ways to get the search started, they aren’t where it ends. You’ll ultimately want to ask some questions of your potential realtor. The goal here is to find someone you “click” with on an individual level, and whose expertise aligns with your needs. Remember, not every candidate will be the right fit, so don’t be afraid to shop around.
Questions to Ask
Some of the best questions to ask a potential realtor vary by occasion, whether you’re buying a home or selling a commercial plot. Here are some questions to get you started:
For all occasions
- “How long have you been a licensed real estate agent?”
While it isn’t everything, experience is huge in the real estate world. An agent with an extensive sales history is an agent who has seen it all, and is prepared for any situation. Of course, you want to confirm that they’re licensed by your local real estate board as well.
- “Do you have a personal website/blog?”
A web presence can indicate an additional level of commitment and professionalism, and it’s a great place for realtors to showcase their knowledge. If the answer to this question is “yes,” be sure to check it out for yourself.
When selling your home
- “How do you showcase the homes you sell?”
If you hope to sell your home for its actual worth, you need potential buyers to see its true beauty in a trustworthy setting. As easy as it would be for an amateur agent to snap a few cell phone pictures, they would be doing you a disservice. Many realtors employ dedicated real estate photographers to capture a flattering view, but you should ensure that the agent has a quality camera of their own at the very least.
- “What is your sale-to-list ratio?”
You want a realtor with a proven ability to secure the actual list price when selling properties. Some less scrupulous agents will inflate this price to secure your business, only to later suggest accepting a far lower offer. Be wary of any realtor whose sale-to-list ratio is substantially below 100%.
When buying a home
- “How many buyers do you work with at any given time?”
It’s normal for professional realtors to juggle multiple buyers simultaneously, and it may even be desirable – if the agent deals with only one buyer, it can indicate a poor sales history. With that being said, what’s most important is that the realtor can attend to your needs and make you feel like their sole client.
- “How much experience do you have selling homes in my area?”
A track record of strong sales is one thing, but the ideal realtor will be knowledgeable about property values and market trends in your specific region. Find out how many homes they’ve sold (as a buyer’s agent) in the last year.
When selling a commercial plot
- “How familiar are you with my property’s neighborhood?”
The right commercial plot can be incredibly valuable to a business – sometimes to the point of making or breaking its success. A good realtor will have the knowledge of local zoning and economic potential to represent your property as the stellar opportunity that it is.
- “Do you have any references that you can share?”
If the agent can point you towards a satisfied customer who had held a similar property to your own, it’s a great sign of their competence. Not everyone will be amenable to speaking with a stranger about their relevant experience, so feel free to gather a couple of names.
When buying a commercial plot
- “What experience do you have locating properties for my industry?”
Just as no home is perfect for every family, no commercial property is a good fit for each business. Whether you run a supermarket, retail outlet, art gallery, or anything else, try to find a realtor who understands your needs. If the broker has been recommended by someone running a similar business to your own, you may benefit even more.
- “How many properties have you sold in my area?”
A realtor who has placed many businesses in your target region is a realtor that understands local traffic patterns, pedestrian flow, rent forecasts, and more. Adjacent locations can provide beneficial synergy to your foot traffic, so familiarity with your potential neighbors is a valuable trait in an agent.
There’s no doubt about it: the marketplace can be intimidating. But a realtor whose skills and personality fit your needs is a powerful ally. Why set yourself up for a headache by going without? Start searching for a realtor and make sure you’re equipped with the right questions to ask them.