Whether you’re buying your first home or your third, chances are you’ll need a real estate agent. You’ll want to make sure that the person you hire to help you through the process knows what they’re doing. A good real estate agent will also know what you’re doing, in terms of what you’re looking for and what you can afford. The more you know about each other, the better off you’ll be, because there is a lot on the line. Here are 5 questions you should ask before hiring a real estate agent.
What is your experience?
First things first, find out how much experience your agent has. It’s important that they’ve dealt with many home sales in the past, so that they know a few tricks to making the process run smoother. This is not to say you can’t find a great agent with little experience, and everyone starts somewhere, but generally, more is better.
Are you local?
If an agent has lived in the area their entire lives, they know it pretty well. They’re the ones who will know which school districts are better than others, where the better neighborhoods are, and what the advantages and disadvantages are of living in certain areas. A non-local agent can only tell you what is on the listing information sheet. Sometimes the little things are deal breakers.
How much do you charge charge?
Different agents charge different commissions, and some don’t charge to buyers and only to sellers. Knowing up front how much it will cost you will save you aggravation later.
Do you participate in a multiple listing service?
This is something that is becoming more and more common. Many areas have a service that is inclusive of all the real estate agents in the area. For example, if you decide to go with a Century 21 agent, they can still show you properties that are listed by Remax, and if your agent sells you a house held by another agency, the two agencies split the commission. The multiple listing service usually has a website with a database so all you have to do is plug in information like number of bedrooms, price range, etc., and then you can ask your agent to see the homes that come up in the results if you’re interested.
Can you provide references?
Don’t be afraid to ask a real estate agent this question. They should be able to provide you with the contact information of a few past clients that have agreed to be references. Make sure that the references are buyers (or sellers if you are choosing an agent to sell your home).
Buying or selling a home can be extremely stressful, and the more comfortable you are with your agent, the better. If you’re not getting a great vibe from someone, don’t sign a contract. Move on to the next. It’s important to have a good relationship; you will be seeing each other often.
Have you bought or sold a house? What are some questions you asked when looking for a real estate agent?