The real estate market is ever-changing, with property values constantly appreciating and depreciating. Before putting dollars at stake in a real estate transaction, you must do proper planning and research. A realtor or real estate agent can help you with this. 

With the right agent, you should expect to get the best property and home prices from the market.

However, picking the right real estate agent is not an easy task. There are so many options to choose from, and you want to hire the best agent available.

It is usual for the first meeting with a prospective agent to be met with skepticism about their level of exposure in the local market. Asking the right questions can help satisfy your curiosity and increase the chances of landing a good deal on real estate transactions.

So, whether you are in the market to buy, sell or rent properties, here are some questions you should ask.

8 questions to ask a realtor before hiring

Do you have a real estate license?

You should always request to see the license of the prospective real estate agent before hiring. This license is the only proof that an agent can practice within a local community. 

If an agent fails to provide you with their license, this should be a significant red flag. 

For how long have you been working as a real estate agent?

While hiring, you should always be on the lookout for real estate agents with quality experience. The more experienced an agent is, the easier it would be to secure lucrative deals. 

It would be best to emphasize their “working experiences” because many agents may hold a license but not practice for years. You do not want to hire an agent that has been out of the market that long.

Note: Asking about past clients can give you a better understanding of the agent’s level of exposure.

Can I take a look at your referrals?

Ordinarily, most top agents present a list of referrals during a job interview. If referrals are not provided, ask for them. Make sure these referrals contain a list of past clients who can attest to the professionalism and expertise of the real estate agent.

Your goal here should be to hire a great agent with a good track record. So, steer clear of those agents who do not meet this goal.

Do you work as a full-time agent?

The real estate market is well known to be a competitive market. To get the best deals available, you’d need to be updated with the lasted information from the market. This is something only a part-time agent cannot provide. For instance, If some agents work only on weekends, their clients may miss out on other opportunities during weekdays.

Another reason to consider full-time agents is that they are capable of entirely focusing on your project with less distraction from other sources (i.e., careers or side hustles )

Compared to other real estate agents, how do you structure fees and payments?

This question is essential in a seller’s market. Usually, a seller pays two agents (listing agent and buyer’s agent) a combined 6% commission. This commission is shared equally between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent.

You don’t necessarily need to worry about these fees and commissions as a buyer.

Note: You can negotiate with an agent to reach an agreed commission payable. This can involve flat fees, brokerage, or discounts with less service.

How do you handle stress?

Things often do not go as planned when negotiating a buy or bargaining a sale. You must know the mental rigidity of your prospective agent and how they can withstand pressure during this period.

In essence, a good real estate agent should be able to think on their feet.

Do you have a good network of experts?

How familiar are you with local professionals? Your agent’s network of experts can be beneficial in saving costs and increasing the quality of your home. It helps if they can easily connect you with the best professionals you need. These professionals include; Lawyers, Insurance agents, handy workers, cleaners, property movers, mortgage brokers, etc. 

What does your client catalog look like?

You can ask your agents how many clients they currently represent. Most top agents’ clientele usually includes a mix of both buyers and sellers. So, If selling a home, you want to hire a good listing agent that can sell at your selling price. Conversely, when house hunting, you need a good agent who can help negotiate and purchase properties within your budget.

What is the best way to contact you?

Believe it or not, all realtors are not ultra-responsive and some may even leave you frustrated at the speed in which they get back to inquiries. Being a realtor is a job, just like any other job, so find someone who is ready and willing to work for you. This includes having a direct contact line to have all of your concerns answered in a timely manner.

What are your working hours?

While a lot of realtors focus on the craft full-time, there are many who are juggling the gig along with other jobs and responsibilities. Be sure you and your realtor have an understanding on when they will be available to help you with your move.

5 questions to ask realtors when buying

What are good questions to ask when looking at a house to buy?

How fast can you get me to view a newly listed home?

In competitive markets, homes sell at quick rates. Some home sales can happen within the first three (3) minutes of its listing. Potential buyers are always on the hunt for new houses to buy. A top Agent can arrange for their clients to tour homes early enough to get an edge in their house hunt. Take note of this in the interview.

Note: you should be able to tour houses within 2-3 days of their listing.

What’s the latest from this neighborhood, and how would it affect home prices? 

Every neighborhood has an overall score that reflects its quality. When a local community builds a new school or community park, the score increases. And can reduce if the community becomes less secure and family-friendly.

Your ideal real estate agent should keep you updated on these latest developments and how they can impact home buying.

What does your timeline look like, and how long do you work with buyers?

There is no specific duration for buying a house. The timeline can easily extend between days, weeks, and months from the first view to closing. Before hiring your agent, know how long the agent works with buyers and how long it would take you to buy a house. It is an added advantage if your agent can speed up this process.

Note: unless you are in a “highly competitive market,” be wary of agents who propose a duration longer than six months.

Are you experienced in foreclosure and short sale transactions?

Buyers interested in cutting deals often opt for foreclosures and short sales. Its procedure is more complex than the traditional home buying process and involves an advanced level of negotiation from both parties. This is where your agent’s experience comes to play.

Your prospective real estate agent is expected to have completed many foreclosure agreements before hiring them. If your agent has closed several complex deals, this should assure you of their competence in managing your risks.

How do I stand out when buying a house?

How does your agent help a buyer stand out in a home search?

Many agents make offers and wait around for the seller’s agent’s reply. This process is not enough to give you an edge. Your agent should be willing to go the extra mile while negotiating. For instance, they can propose a waiver on inspections and other contingencies to make the deal more lucrative. 

In essence, your agents should be buyer specialists with immense knowledge to help you in the market. Make sure to ask how they’ve helped past home buyers stand out. 

6 questions to ask a realtor when selling

Have you sold homes in this neighborhood before? 

One essential quality top agents have over other agents is their “In-depth knowledge” of the neighborhood home sellers reside. They understand the uniqueness of each neighborhood and can attract the type of buyers that fits into it. 

Your real estate agent should know which buyer is in the market for a new home and how to sell it to them.

How often do you sell houses? 

The number of houses an agent sells each year can give you an idea of how efficient and active they are in the market. For instance, one agent in San Francisco selling just a home in three years would be perceived as less competent than other agents selling up to ten houses a year.

In essence, your real estate agent should have sold a substantial amount of homes in your neighborhood.

How should I prepare for a home sale?

A good agent would recommend steps you can take to increase your home’s value. It could be repainting, carrying out some repairs, or even fixing a light bulb. The bottom line here is to hire real estate agents with the proper knowledge to sell your home faster.

What’s the best marketing plan to deploy?

An experienced agent would develop a realistic marketing strategy to help you with the sale. This plan usually covers how your house would be sold and the sale to list ratio (final sale price) to expect. An ideal marketing plan would provide a list price that accommodates bidding wars.

If the agent has substantial reach on social media, he can also deploy social media marketing by listing the home on social media and websites (i.e. Washington post). This can help speed up its sale.

Ensure you are satisfied with the agent’s marketing plans before proceeding with the sale.

Explain your list-to-sale ratio

The list-to-sale ratio is the percentage between the asking price (list price) and the selling price. This ratio is used to measure whether a house sold above or below the asking price.

How do we communicate?

The importance of communication cannot be overstated. Clear contact with your agent would prevent mistakes on sensitive issues (i.e. list price). Clear communications happen only when you can comfortably ask a real estate professional any question.

Try to reach an agreement with your agent on the mode of communication. This can be by phone, email, social media, video chat, etc.

4 questions to ask a realtor when renting

You must ask real estate agents questions concerning the house or apartment you plan to rent. Not only does this help you save time and cost, but it also prepares you for what to expect after renting. Here are some questions for a real estate agent:

How much is the monthly rental cost?

It is critical to find out the monthly cost of renting a property. This cost should apply to the total lease duration for annual rental. If there is a new listing, ask your agent about the rules concerning periodic increases in the rent.

How much do I pay before moving into the apartment?

Before renting a property, it is vital to know how much you may be required to pay before accessing the property. Do well to find out if you are to pay a security deposit and whether such a security deposit is refundable.

What does my monthly rent cover?

Some rents come with additional fees for pets, parking, and other amenities such as a gym, party room, or swimming pool. Your agent should generally inform you of these perks and the advantages of renting some houses.

What is the accepted payment method?

It is vital to determine what payment method is acceptable to the property owner. Most agents would provide you with this information. If you have other forms of payment (i.e., Nft or crypto,), it doesn’t hurt to ask if they are accepted.

6 questions to ask a realtor when leasing

What is the typical lease term?

Not all lease terms are yearly. Some property owners prefer longer or shorter lease terms. You can check for online reviews on the lease.

When can I move in?

Some apartments are listed for about two months before the expected move-in date, and property owners prefer counting rents from the beginning of the month. Find out your expected move-in date from the realtor.

Is a reference or guarantor needed?

Find out if you may have to present a guarantor or references before you can lease the property.

Can you break or renew the lease?

Ask about the implications of breaking the lease and the possibility of renewing your lease after its expiration. It would help if you asked this during the interview.

How many people are allowed to live in the apartment?

Some accommodations have limitations on the number of occupants, while others also have a guest or visitor policy. 

Can you make any changes to the accommodation?

Some property owners do not allow tenants to make permanent changes to the apartment. Find out what types of changes are allowed and the ones that are not permitted before personalizing your space in the apartment.

10 questions to ask a realtor when relocating

Real estate agents can assist you in relocating. They can help reduce the stress from this process by; bargaining costs, arranging transportation and securing a temporary place to stay.

It would help if you asked some questions to experience optimum service from your agent.

What specialized services do you offer?

Aside from assisting you in your home hunt, an agent can also provide specialized services like transportation, property arrangement, etc.  Find out if they can offer some services you may require for your move.

How much is your relocation fee, and what does it cover?

It is essential to know how much the realtor may charge for their role in helping you relocate.

Who will be your contact point in the new location?

The realtor needs to give you a contact person in your new destination. Someone you can call when the need arises. 

You should reach out to the contact before moving to know their response time and approach.

Can you find temporary but convenient housing for me if the need arises? 

You may spend more time than anticipated during transit, and it is best to know beforehand if you can get temporary accommodation.

Do you guide homebuyers throughout the entire process from the searching to closing phase?

It is critical to know if the realtor can help you find the right home with the best listing price throughout the buying process.

How does the process of closing work in my new destination

Suppose you intend to buy a property before relocation. Knowing the real estate closing process and closing costs in your new location would be helpful. 

How many people are allowed to live in the apartment?

Some accommodations have limitations on the number of occupants, while others also have a guest or visitor policy. 

Can you make any changes to the accommodation?

Some property owners do not allow tenants to make permanent changes to the apartment. Find out what types of changes are allowed and the ones that are not permitted before personalizing your space in the apartment.

Can I access local maps, special event information, and side attractions in my new destination?

Since you are relocating to a new area, it is important to know more about the location to enjoy life in the new place.

Where can I get authentic answers about local shipping, crime rates, schools, and local restaurants?

It is essential to know where you can receive goods from outside the locality, the quality of schools and where you can enjoy a good meal.

6 Questions to ask a realtor when buying land

Irrespective of how perfect a land may seem, it is always advised to carry out additional research. You can do so by asking relevant questions before buying.

Here are questions you can ask to ensure you purchase a land worthwhile:

What are the titles and rights that come with the land?

The property titles refer to documents that list the property owner. This document is the single most important document as a buyer. Ask your agent to explain the titles and the rights to expect from the land.

Note: Some attorneys and agents specialize in dealing with complicated property titles. Consider hiring an expert to ensure no problem arises for the purchase.

Does the land have a properly marked boundary?

To avoid lawsuits or disputes with other land buyers, the property must have a defined boundary. Ask your agent for this information. In addition, you can also request the outcome of a recent survey on the land to understand its boundary better.

Does water drain appropriately from the property?

Poor water drainage on your property would negatively impact the land. 

Your agent should consult with the seller’s agent to ascertain what type of water drainage system is in place.

How is the land accessed?

How do you access your land? Is it accessible through frontage roads (local roads) or by deed access (through another person’s property)?

 Lands with good frontage roads are more valuable compared to deeded access roads. As a buyer, find out if your potential land has a good access point from the local road.

How about other lands near you

Aside from getting relevant information about your potential land, you should also find out what goes on land or property close to you. These properties can impact the value of the land. It would also affect the value of any house you may build in the future.

Ask your agent if the neighbors are experiencing any hazards or environmental issues on their lands or property. This gives you an idea of what to expect from the land.

What is the best use of the land?

A property’s best or highest use refers to the most reasonable legal use of such property. Find out how best to use the land and maximize its value.

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