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13 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

1. How long have you been an agent?
An agent that’s been in the business for a good amount of time will be able to anticipate problems before they arise and have tried and tested negotiation techniques. They will also have established relationships with other real estate professionals. For reference, the median experience of a Realtor® is 8 years. (Our team has a total of 39 YEARS combined.)

2. How many homes do you help buyers purchase each year?
Real estate agents represent an average of 12 buyers or sellers per year, according to NAR. If your agent is batting way below that, it could be a red flag. (Our team averages about 70 transactions per year!)

3. Do you work full time or part time as an agent?
Full-time agents are more likely to be able to devote more time to working for you than someone who is pursuing real estate on the side. The first question I would recommend asking is, “Are you a full-time agent or are you a part-time agent?” (Our team has 3 full time agents PLUS full time administrative support to make sure our transactions run as smoothly as possible!)

4. Do you work with both buyers and sellers?
Many agents work as either buyer specialists or seller specialists. While it’s great to find someone who specializes, an agent who does both could offer some great insights on either side of the process. (We work with BOTH!)

5. How many clients do you have right now?
This is a line to toe carefully. Too many clients may mean your agent doesn’t have time to devote to you; too few may be a cause for concern. (The Jamie Goff Team is actually a team of 3 agents so we can make sure we are getting our clients into properties as soon as they come up…THAT way, if your primary agent isn’t available, someone on the team can get you in!)

6. What’s the ratio of buyers to sellers that you represent?
Getting a feel for the ratio of buyers to sellers will give you some indication of your agent’s area of expertise. If they have a balanced roster of clients, it could mean they are very knowledgeable about both sides of the process. (Our ratio average is about 50/50 for the team.)

7. How long do you usually work with buyers, from the first home you see together to the closing table?
Your real estate agent can play a huge role in the length of time it takes to sell your home or find your next residence. You should be wary if your agent habitually works with clients for six months or longer. (there is NO magic number here, we range from a few days (it’s happened before!) to years, but thankfully the “Years Clients” are very few and far between.)

8. Do you have references I can call?
If you hired a new employee, you would probably call their references, right? Be sure you’re vetting your new agent with the same rigor you would any professional working for you. If they can’t offer you a list of satisfied clients, be careful.
You can tell as you read through the reviews if this is a people person and you can tell if it’s going to be a good fit for you. (We would LOVE to share our references with you!)

9. Have you helped buyers find homes in these areas?
Your real estate agent should be knowledgeable about the area you’re looking at. Communities differ in terms of what types of homes buyers want, what types of homes sell, and so on. Make sure your agent knows the area where you want to buy. (Another advantage of working with a team!!! We cover the entire area!!!)

10. Have you helped buyers / sellers at these price ranges?
Price ranges can dramatically alter the way a home is marketed, and can also alter the way agents view them. You’re less likely to get attention from an agent who specializes in multimillion-dollar listings if you’re more in the $300,000 range. (We also represent buyers and sellers in ALL price ranges!! We love first time home buyers AND the experienced buyer who has bought and sold many houses through the years)

11. Will I be working with you individually, or with a team?
If you enter an agent-buyer relationship with the understanding that the agent will be handling you personally, it can be alarming to be handed off to an assistant. Be clear about who you will primarily be dealing with, what your agent will handle personally, and what gets delegated to their support staff. (Our support staff doesn’t show property, so there is no “handing off” here!)
Side NOTE: It’s very important for an agent to have a good support system behind them to make sure that the buyer is looked after! Having a good support system sets buyers up to win because we can really dig in and understand their goals and what’s important to them.

12. What professional contacts do you have?
Mortgage broker, appraiser, inspector, real estate lawyer, general contractor, moving companies, and anything else you can think of involving homes should all be things your agent can recommend. Your agent’s network may be just as important as their team. (We have ALL of these and several choices, so our clients can pick who they want to do business with.)

13. How do you help buyers compete in this market?
If you’re looking to buy in a competitive market, breaking through the competition is essential. Ask your prospective agent how they’re going to help you stand out in a potential sea of offers. (We have our “tricks of the trade” that we’d be happy to discuss with our clients.)