10 Questions Homebuyers Should Ask Their Real Estate Agents
You've been saving for a down payment, planning to buy your first home, and now it's time to pick a real estate agent. As a homebuyer, you want to pick a fair and honest agent and protect your financial interests. Buying a home is likely one of the largest investments you'll make, and it's important to choose a real estate agent whom you can trust to get the job done right, with your best interests in mind.
When choosing a real estate agent, here are 10 questions that you should ask them before you sign on the dotted line.
What Homebuyers Should Ask Their Agents
- How long have you been in real estate, and are you licensed? Determine if you want a cheerful, fresh-faced real estate agent or the advice of a wise, experienced agent. A licensed and designated real estate agent will be part of a brokerage and association and will have agreed to abide by their code of ethics.
- Do you have references? How have their previous listings gone? What was the experience of their previous clients? Does the real estate agent have a good track record and results? They should also have an average list-to-sale-price ratio that shows good negotiating skills.
- What are your services? And what do you offer/cover in terms of preparing the home for sale? As a first-time homebuyer, there are several aspects of the process that you will need to fully understand. A real estate agent should speak confidently about what they do and what they can offer you. If they know other people in the industry, they may be able to refer you to home inspectors, contractors, or designers—they may even include some services in their offering.
- Do you know the area? The real estate agent you use should know the area in which you are buying or selling and answer potential buyersʼ questions confidently.
- Can I review documents in advance? A good real estate agent will share all important documents with you in advance, ensure you understand them by going through them with you and answer any questions.
- How much do you charge? Some real estate agents charge more than others, and sometimes the price can be negotiated. What makes them different from their competition?
- How quickly do you respond to calls and emails? Good communication skills and availability are important when coordinating with the many professionals involved in real estate transactions, from attorneys to photographers and inspectors.
- Do you have a sales strategy? Your real estate agent should have a plan and communicate how theirs differs from other real estate agents'. Their marketing plan should meet your needs and give you the confidence to reach a large audience to sell your home quickly and for the highest price.
- Do you offer a guarantee? For example, will the real estate agent let you cancel the agreement if you are unhappy with the service provided? If they cannot sell your home, what are your options?
- What else should I know that I haven't already asked? The more you ask, the more prepared you will be to make an informed decision.
The More You Ask, The More You Know
The right real estate agent can save you time, money, and stress, so it is important to choose an agent with priorities that align with your own. You should interview and research at least three or four agents to get a good idea of who is a good fit. Don't feel pressured to use a real estate agent because they're a family member or friend or come recommended but don't sit well with you.