Questions to Ask When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Looking to buy or sell a home? While there’s no shortage of online resources these days, there are plenty of reasons why most buyers and sellers enlist the services of a real estate agent to guide them through the process. At the same time, there are thousands of agents out there, so where do you start?

While you may have someone in the family who is licensed to sell real estate, they may not have a good handle on what it takes to beat out the competition in your particular market. Or perhaps your neighbor recommends you link up with the agent they used, but this person may not be as familiar with the ins and outs of fixer uppers.

The point is that the agent you work with needs to align with your real estate goals. That’s why it’s important to ask your next agent the right questions to ensure the best fit for you.

Tell me about your experience

Most real estate professionals are independent contractors, meaning it’s a great industry for self-starters and established professionals alike. On the other hand, you could encounter agents who are juggling a full-time career elsewhere and have less time to spare for clients.

All things considered, it’s always a good idea to set up a meeting or have a phone call with your candidates to talk about their experience. Do they have a lot of expertise in the area where you are selling or buying? Do they specialize in a particular housing type? How long have they been selling real estate? Make sure the person you’re working with understands your goals and is willing to commit the time and resources to making your dreams a reality.

What differentiates you from your competition?

Again, there are thousands of licensed agents, but just like any business, the smartest and most adaptable will rise to the top. What makes your prospective agent stand out?

Real estate is an incredibly dynamic and evolving industry, so institutional knowledge, experience in negotiation, and a strong grasp on local markets are just the basic ingredients for success. Sprinkle on a savvy marketing strategy, a solid network of adjacent professionals — think mortgage brokers, attorneys, contractors, and other service providers — and you’re in good hands.

What’s unique that your candidate brings to the mix? Is it a special niche or focus? Perhaps cutting-edge tech tools that make the whole process more seamless? Be sure to ask!

What services do you provide beyond facilitating the transaction?

An agent will guide you through every step of the transaction. But what else can your candidates provide?

Maybe you need some guidance on school districts, or are wondering about upcoming developments or businesses planned for a neighborhood. Maybe your home needs some updating to get it ready for the market. Or maybe you need help with appealing property taxes and aren’t sure where to start — ask what services they offer beyond the transaction.

How will you keep me informed throughout the process?

In a nutshell, the selling process generally goes something like: Meet and discuss the seller’s goals, organize and declutter the house, bring in a photographer for photos, list the home on the MLS, open the property up for open houses and showings, negotiate offers, and then finally meet at the closing. In reality, each of these points is more complex than it may sound. And for buying, there’s other moving pieces such as lining up financing.

This is why it’s important for agents and clients to keep a good rapport. Communication is key — especially when it comes to something as personal as buying or selling a home. How will your agent keep you informed throughout the process? Be sure you have a clear understanding before signing an agreement.

What is your pricing and marketing strategy?

We often say that proper pricing is the backbone of any successful real estate marketing strategy. Ask your candidates what their pricing strategy is, and if they haven’t provided one already, ask for a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis). @properties agents use a digital CMA tool that continuously updates and allows sellers to see local market activity in real time. This helps determine the appropriate list price and ultimately helps ensure your home sells faster and for the highest possible price.

In terms of marketing, how will they generate maximum exposure for your home? Do they leverage other digital marketing tactics like social media and targeted advertising?

@properties agents offer a full suite of resources that enhance the buying and selling experience and give clients an edge. Reach out to learn more.

Written by AJ LaTrace
AJ LaTrace is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer covering Chicago real estate, architecture, and neighborhoods. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Time Out Chicago, Michigan Avenue Magazine, Curbed Chicago, Block Club Chicago, and others.