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How to choose a Realtor

Selena Dehne is a marketing and public relations manager for JIST Publishing, freelance writer and life-long Hoosier. She covers home, entertaining, and holiday topics for SheKnows.com and FabulousLiving.com. Selena has also published do...

Questions to ask real estate agents

Selecting a Realtor is a major, initial step in the process of selling or buying a home. It's also one of the toughest decisions a homeowner must make. Many people have difficulty distinguishing one real estate agent from another.
Real estate agent on phone

As you shop for a Realtor, ask these questions. The answers you receive will help you make a confident decision about the agent who's right for your needs.

1

What is your experience in my area?

Jessica Edwards, an agent from Coldwell Banker Sea Coast in Wilmington, North Carolina, says, "It's important to find an experienced agent who can help you understand the local market and price your home competitively. The agent should know the price of other homes that have sold recently in the area, how long other homes have been on the market and what buyers are looking for in your location."

2

What has your success rate been for home sales
during the past 12 months? What is the average amount of time it took to sell those listings?

According to Edwards, these questions can help you better understand the agent's level of expertise. "Ideally, you will want to work with an agent who has a high percentage of completed transactions within your home's price range. How long it takes the agent to sell a home is a good indication of their marketing ability. Knowing this information about each agent will help you compare and select the best fit," she explains.

3

What is your online presence like?
Do you use Facebook, Twitter or videos?

"The way people search for homes has changed," says Edwards. "Buyers like to see pictures and videos of homes online, so you need an agent with an established online presence and knowledge of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. You want an agent who knows how to use every avenue possible to sell your home!"

4

How involved will you be in
the process of selling my home?

Robert Foley, owner of Flat Fee Real Estate in Burlington, Vermont, explains why this question can be eye-opening: "Most homeowners should insist that all appointments be scheduled through the agent and not directly with the homeowner. Part of the role of an agent is to maximize the homeowner's free time and if the agent does not provide scheduling coordination, the agent is not providing full value. Another item is whether the agent deals with all of the closing coordination and communication or whether the agent relies upon a closing coordinator or other staff members to perform the roles traditionally performed by agents. Homeowners should be able to have one consistent point of contact and it should be the agent, not their assistant or staff member."

5

May I contact some of your past clients?

Foley acknowledges that agents will only provide the contact information of satisfied customers, but explains that reference checks are still helpful because they provide an opportunity to ask others about their experience with the agent.

6

What are some mistakes that you think
people make when selling their home?

According to Helen Hernandez Archer, a Realtor for Keller Williams Realty in Atlanta, Georgia, this question will demonstrate how honest the agent will be with the sellers. "An honest agent will be able to tell their client what to do or not do to have a successful transaction and ultimately sell the home."

7

What are the most common things that go wrong in a transaction and how would you handle them?

Archer says experienced agents are able to inform their clients about what to expect throughout the process, as well as possible problems that may arise and how to avoid these issues.

In addition to asking these questions and doing your homework about each real estate agent you're considering, trust your gut. If someone doesn't feel like the right fit for your needs, keep looking until you find someone who does.

More on homeowning

6 Secrets to impressing home buyers
5 Tips for the aspiring homeowner: Make your money work for you
Rent a home or buy your own?

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