7 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Real Estate Agent

Hiring a real estate professional you trust is no easy feat. Even asking friends and family for recommendations can leave you with a list of 20+ names. Where do you go from there?

Narrowing down the list can be a challenge, but it is a necessary process. Your real estate agent performs all negotiations on your behalf. You want an experienced and respected negotiator on your side, who similarly is able to articulate the process for you and thoroughly answer any questions you have.

Your vetting process can easily help determine these. Before you shake hands and start signing paperwork, ask your prospective agent these seven questions.

1. How long have you been in the real estate business, and how frequently do you conduct business?

You may be able to glean this information from websites like Zillow or from your prospective agent's website, but this is important information to know. Work with an agent with full-time experience upward of a year.

We emphasize full-time, as many agents can hold on to a license without much real-world experience. Valuable real estate experience is only earned through actual transactions and activity in the field. Don't put your transaction in the hands of "part-time" or "occasional" agents.

2. Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors, Your Local Board, an MLS subscriber?

A serious agent will belong to his or her local and national boards.  These are the organizations that maintain a level of standards for its members, advocate on their behalf, etc. If your agent is a member of these organizations, it demonstrates a basic commitment to the profession and seriousness in the practice of selling real estate.  

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the bread and butter of housing data for real estate agents. It is through this service that agents can access absolutely all houses available on the market. 

For buyers, this will provide you full access (via your agent) not only to the houses available to you on the market, but to the all data acquired on these houses and houses surrounding it. This provides massive insight into pricing and making an offer.

For sellers, your home will be posted on the MLS. An agent with the MLS will also be able to compile an extensive market analysis based on the information found there, ensuring your home is priced to sell.

Once these two basic criteria have been met, it's time to separate the wheat from the chaff...

3. What is your negotiation strategy? 

Negotiation is the single most important skill set of the real estate agent.

The list of people that the selling party must negotiate with throughout the course of a transaction is extensive: The buyer, the buyer's agent, the buyer's attorney, the home inspection company, the buyer's lender, the appraiser, the title company...

The negotiation strategy should inform how the property is priced. Should You Base Asking Price On Comparable Closed Sales?  Probably not. But how come? It comes back to your negotiation strategy.

Can your agent get you a better price than another, competing agent?  With a good negotiation strategy, the answer is certainly YES.

4. What is your business style?

Ask specifically about communication style. How will they keep in touch with you? How will they inform you of prospects? Have an open dialogue here, understanding they're style and articulating your personal preferences.

5. What does the market look like in my neighborhood?

The news will discuss the national real estate market, or even what the trends are in your major metropolitan area.  But, what does the market look like for three bedroom condos in Logan Square over the last year?  How quickly are single family homes selling in Lakeview?  What does the housing supply look like in my neighborhood?

6. How will you represent us?

You're looking to hear about housing inspections, mortgage approval follow through process, and presence at your closing. This answer in general will give you an understanding on whether or not your agent has a clear grasp on the real estate process, and whether or not they are willing (and able) to articulate it to you.

7. Are you familiar with our area?

Good knowledge of your neighborhood is essential in providing guidance (and determining list price. for sellers). If agents can point to previous transactions they have conducted in your area, this is even better.  Is their familiarity merely anecdotal or do they have analytics to support their findings?  Selling ten homes in a neighborhood is a lot, but were those ten representative of the 250 that sold in the last year?

Questions for us (or, 7 more questions, perhaps)? We'd love to help you, or direct you to someone who can help you better. Don't hesitate to send us an email or give us a call.

Real Group Real Estate

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Chicago, IL 60614

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