13 Most Effective Realtor Interview Questions
Selling a house is one of the most stressful and important financial decision you can make in your lifetime. Making the wrong hire for a real estate agent can cost you thousands of dollars in equity and exacerbate an already stressful time.
As a professional real estate agent, I decided to create a list of the top 13 interview question to ask a Realtor® before you hire them. I know from working in the real estate industry that there is a dramatic difference in professionalism and results between real estate agents. You need to do your best to screen out the low performing agents to find a great Houston Realtor®.
- How much do you charge?
It is vital to know your costs up front and this is a great starter question to better understand if they are a discount, limited or full-service agent . Your agent can estimate what you will “net” at the end of the sale with a “Seller’s Net Sheet.” The Net Sheet has a break down of broker fees, title fees, prorated property taxes and HOA fees and so forth.
Each type of agent has its pros and cons so check out my extensive article on How to Hire a Great Houston Realtor where I dive into the details on these three pricing structures.
- What is your plan for marketing?
Marketing is about strategy and effort. My strategy for marketing tends to fall into a few buckets such as home preparation, internet optimization, target marketing to the most likely buyer and pretty much anything I can do to dive traffic to the house to get buyer feedback. This feedback allows my clients to better adapt to the demands of the market.
Your agent doesn’t have to be that detailed but if they don’t have a plan or the wherewithal to put in the effort to get your home in front of the most buyers possible, then search for an agent that will.
- What is your communication plan?
A top agent will provide a system for contacting you regularly to report on the showing feedback and the marketing of your home. A substandard agent (well, the norm in the industry, actually) will provide little (if any) feedback or communication. As I mentioned in question #2, feedback allows sellers to adapt to the demands of the market. Without feedback on buyer tours, marketing efforts and internet traffic, it is very difficult to know what the biggest challenges are to potential buyers.
Home staging helps to sell a house faster and on average a staged home spends 73% fewer days on the market than a home that hasn’t been staged (professionalstaging.com). It is a tremendous help when an agent provides a consultation with a home staging profession.
Home stagers prepare your home for the market and assist to make it look and feel like a builder’s model home. This is an amazing article with the comments from the top 23 professional Houston home stagers and their observations with the top mistakes homeowners make when selling their home. It is very insightful if you are getting your home ready for the market or if it is already on the market.
- Do you include professional real estate photography?
This is a make or break answer. If they tell you they photograph your house with their phone (no matter how good the phone is), don’t hire them. 93% of all buyers are online looking for homes. Terrible pictures can cause buyers to pass over your listing for other homes, or worse yet, it can cause your home to sell for a substantial lower amount. Check out step 5 from my article on how to sell your home fast (and get the most money for it).
- How long have you been selling homes?
This is a great question to gauge the agent’s experience. It doesn’t have to be for 30+ years, but you do want an agent with a little experience under their belt so they will know how to overcome various challenges that pop up with negotiating, inspections, appraisals, crazy buyers and agents and so forth.
- How many homes did you sell last year?
This question provides an idea of how busy they will be and how much time they will have to devote to working on selling your house. An agent with too many homes will just see you as another home to sell and may not provide you with the service you need.
- Will you be my main point of contact or your someone on you team?
This is a great follow up question. If the agent is apart of a mega agent team and sells hundreds of homes a year, you need to know who your point of contact will be and how often you will hear from them. If there is an emergency and they need to contact someone quickly, ask them who that will be.
Most professional real estate agents are individual agents or part of a small team so the majority of the time you will be working directly with them.
- What area of town do you focus on?
Sometimes it is great to have an agent that lives and breaths your area. They will often know first hand the benefits and challenges of living in your neighborhood. Sometimes they will even have a dormant buyer that may be interested in buying your home.
- How long is the listing agreement?
This is crucial because you don’t want to get stuck with an agent that is not communicating or one that is not working to sell your home. Some people can put on a good show at your initial consultation, but their true nature reveals itself shortly after, and it’s not pretty.
Its common to have a six month listing agreement but I tell my clients that if we are still in the listing term and they don’t feel that it is working out, then they can cancel the agreement (except if I have already procured a buyer). This hasn’t happened yet (knock on wood), thankfully. My reasoning is that I wouldn’t want a homeowner to feel like they are stuck and for the relationship to sour.
I would say that maybe less than 40% of Realtors feel this way as well. The rest would require a homeowner to stick out the length of the contract.
- If I need to cancel our agreement early, are there any costs or penalties?
A great follow up question, some agents will charge hundreds if not thousands of dollars to terminate a listing agreement. Be sure to review the listing agreement as to when and how you are able to terminate your agreement with your Realtor.
- What price do you think my house will sell for? Why?
Many agents will tell you a listing price they think you want to hear to earn your business. Then they will aggressively push major price reductions shortly after the start of your listing. Sometimes it is in reaction to a change in market or a unique property, but many times it is due to overpricing by an agent that just wants to win your business.
Find an agent that has the fortitude to be honest upfront about pricing your home.
- Why should I use you over the other agents I’m interviewing?
It is always a good idea to interview a few different agents to get a different feel for their personalities, professionalism, and variety of services. Understanding what makes them different helps to select the right professional for you.
Finding a Great Real Estate Agent is Worth the Effort
It can be uncomfortable interviewing 2, 3 or 4 different real estate agent (not to mention time consuming) but your effort can really pay off in the end. After asking these 13 great questions and applying the tips from my Top 7 Tips to Hiring the Best Realtor article, you will be on the right track to getting the best professional for the job.
My final suggestion would be to listen to your gut.
If an agent is super smooth but they talk about themselves and how great they are the entire consultation, pass on that agent for a professional that will be a great listener. One that wants to understand what’s important to you and has a heart of a teacher.
All the best!