Not all Realtors are created equal. Each Realtor works differently, has different standards, and employs different tactics when marketing a property. Not all Realtors will be a fit for you and you will not be a fit for all Realtors - choosing your Realtor is quite like dating. There should be a 'spark' and your Realtor should give you a sample of what they have to offer. You wouldn't marry someone without knowing what they are about, would you? Don't hire a Realtor without knowing what they are about either!
Here are some key questions you should ask when hiring a Realtor:
1) How long have you been a Realtor?
You want someone who knows the ins and outs of the business, or someone with the resources who can know the same. Simply because someone has been a Realtor for 20 years DOES NOT mean they are the best choice. Some, but not all, Realtors lose their fire after years in the business. You will know if a Realtor has a genuine interest in their business or not. The same goes with someone with a fresh, shiny new license. Do they know everything there is to know about real estate? Of course not - but do they have a team and resources backing them who does? Ask these questions and know where the agent stands in their competence and their team resources.
2) What neighborhoods do you specialize in?
Your Realtor should know their business and their area. A key to their competence is knowing home prices, styles, schools and amenities.
3) What's your schedule and availability?
Is your Realtor "too busy", or are they not available when you need them? This is vital in the current market. With almost every property resulting in negotiations and multiple offers, your agent must be on top of their business. Is you agent full time or part time? If they are part time, do they have a team to help? Some Realtors are "hobby realtors", and that's ok, but you need to be certain that matches your goals.
4) Does your agent work independently or as part of a team?
Remember when we said not all agents work the same? This is a great example. Does your agent work virtually or have a physical location? Does your agent work alone, or are they part of an office or inter-office team? Again, there is no right or wrong here, but you should know that your agent's style matches yours. In a fast moving market, your goals must align.
5) How many homes did your agent list or sell in the past year?
This is a key indicator of your agents performance and an example of what they can and are willing to do. Any agent should be able to tell you about their performance and many agents will even have a 'look book' when it comes to their business performance.
6) If you are a buyer, how long does it typically take buyers they have worked with to find and purchase a home?
This is a tricky question. Referring back to an aggressive market, is this potential agent able to negotiate on your behalf, be creative with offers and tell you when your're wrong? You should be able to answer 'yes' to all these questions! In the same respect, a Realtor should never tell a client to do something they are uncomfortable with. There is a fine line of pushing a client to do something that is not in their best interest and pushing a client when they are scared. The right Realtor knows the difference. The transaction shouldn't be able to money for the Realtor, it should be about your best interest.
7) How will your agent determine what homes match your needs and wants?
You Realtor should ask you questions and understand what you need and want. Is there a certain neighborhood or area you want to be in? Do you need a specific number of bedrooms? Is a pool a must? These are all things your Realtor should want to know and will need to know. Then, how will they put this into motion?
8) How many clients are you currently working with?
Everyone has different capabilities, but your Realtor can't be overwhelmed with too much work, but some can handle more than others. This should be an easy question simply because you will know if your Realtor is listening and engaged with you, not distracted with something else.
9) How will your Realtor communicate?
Communication is vital and your Realtor should match your needs. Some clients prefer consistent updates, others prefer to know when something happens and that is all. Do you like being called, visited or texted? Know your preferences and know your Realtor can meet those expectations.
10) What is your marketing plan?
Any good Realtor knows not every property is created equal and every property needs different marketing techniques and plans. How does the Realtor market properties and what is their plan? Sticking a sign in the yard IS NOT an acceptable answer!
11) What types of homes does or has the Realtor worked with?
This is important. Clientele and marketing is very different for property types. A starter home is marketed differently that an estate; an estate is marketing different than a farm or hunting land. Where does the Realtor's competencies lie? Realtors should feel comfortable in your price range. Some Realtors are able to work all property types, but again - not all Realtors are created equally!
Interviewing your Realtor should be a process and any professional should have the expectation you will ask questions - and they should be willing and able to give competent and honest answers.