40% of Americans say that buying a home is the most stressful event in their lives—so much so that 33% of homebuyers are reduced to tears at some point (I’m pretty sure that hasn’t been the case with my clients).
Between finding that perfect home, saving up for a down payment, and trying to sell your current home, it’s easy to see why the process can be stressful. But you can take a lot of weight of your shoulders by finding a great Realtor to work with.
The best way to do that is to come up with a list of questions to ask a Realtor. Based on the answers they provide, you can better decide which Realtor is the right fit for you.
Do you need help coming up with questions? Then keep reading to discover the top 8 questions you should ask a potential Realtor.
1. Can I See Your Real Estate License?
Alright, first things first. You want to make sure a potential Realtor is actually licensed. This ensures they’ve been properly trained, and they can legally sell your home or help you buy a new home.
Your Realtor should be able to provide their license that proves they’ve passed all the state exams. If they are unable to show you’re their real estate license, you should consider moving on to the next real estate agent on your list.
2. How Long Do Your Listings Usually Spend on the Market?
If you need to sell your current home, chances are you want it to sell rather quickly. So, make sure you ask a potential Realtor how long their listings usually take to sell. Compare this number to what other potential real estate agents have said to see how they measure up.
3. What’s Your Average List-to-Price Ratio?
As a buyer, you want to get your new home for the lowest amount possible. On the flip side, you want to be able to sell your current home for as much as you can. So, you need a Realtor who has good list-to-price ratios whether you’re buying or selling.
Listing agents should have ratios that are close to 100% while a buyer’s agent ratio should be under 99%. Be wary of any ratios that are below 90%
If you’re selling your home and see a Realtor claim a list-to-price ratio that’s well over 100%, you’ll want to ask them why their number is so high. While it’s not uncommon in today’s seller’s market, they may have under-priced the original listing in order to pad their ratio. If this seems to be the case, ask how they determine listing prices.
4. Can I See a List of References?
References are a great way to ensure a real estate agent has people who can vouch for their quality of work. After asking for references, consider asking how the agent knows them. These references should be people the Realtor knows professionally or previous employers instead of friends and family members.
The internet also provides tons of references, so check their website testimonials and other online reviews before setting up an interview. If your potential real estate agent has tons of positive reviews, you may not need to ask for references. Ideally, look for Realtors who have at least 4 out of 5 stars on Google.
Another helpful guide is ask about any special designations they may hold. These are like Realtor merit badges and indicate specialized training they’ve had in specific areas.
5. How Many Clients Are You Currently Working With?
The number of clients a Realtor already has can tell you a lot. If they are already juggling a high number of clients, such as 15 buyers or 40 different listings, they may already be stretching themselves too thin.
This means they likely won’t have a lot of time to devote to you. They may miss some houses you would love during their search or, if you’re selling, they may not put enough effort into advertising your current home. Communication may also be far and few between, leaving you frustrated with the whole process.
On the flip side, Realtors who seem to have barely any clients may be new to the game. Ask how long they’ve been a real estate agent and double check their online reviews. While hiring a new agent isn’t always bad, you may prefer someone who has more experience.
6. What’s Your Availability?
Figuring out the ideal number of clients a Realtor should have is tricky. So, a better method is to simply ask about their schedule and availability. This will help you gauge just how much time they can commit to you.
You also want to make sure that your schedule lines up with your real estate agent. Be sure to ask how often they communicate with clients as well. You don’t want to feel left in the dark because your agent doesn’t keep you updated or takes too long to return your calls.
Lastly, consider asking how they address urgent matters, such as closing problems or if a bidding war starts on a house you were interested in buying. You’ll want a Realtor who is flexible enough to handle these situations promptly.
7. How Will You Decide Which Homes to Show Me?
When your life is already hectic, finding time to look at homes can be a bit frustrating. So, when you do schedule tours, you want to ensure your Realtor is showing you homes you would actually consider buying.
Consider asking a potential real estate agent how they decide which homes to show you. They should give you a questionnaire which will help them pinpoint your ideal home. If you choose to search for homes search yourself via websites Zillow, Realtor.com and Redfin, will the Realtor be available to verify that the homes you select are still available?
Of course, not all home buyers have wish-lists that are realistic for their budget. Your agent should be honest with you if this is the case.
8. How Long Does It Usually Take Your Clients to Buy a Home?
The entire process of buying a home, from touring properties to closing, can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months. This depends on a lot of factors, such as your wish-list, how many homes are on the market, and how often you are able to look at potential homes.
If an agent tells you their clients usually take over 6 months to buy a home, be wary. This could mean that the Realtor isn’t showing clients homes they like or that property tours are scheduled far and few between.
Top Questions to Ask a Realtor
Don’t just hire the first Realtor you come across. Instead, follow the above list of questions to ask a Realtor to ensure you’re picking the best agent you can find.
Are you ready to take the next step? If you’re in Columbus, Ohio, contact me today. I’d love to help you buy or sell your home. Of you’re looking elsewhere in the country, I have the resources to refer you to a highly-experienced Realtor in any market.