Choosing a real estate agent for your first home is very important.  We recommend that you interview at least 3 agents.  Here is a list of questions that you might consider asking an agent to get an idea if they are the best agent to represent you for what may be your largest purchase ever.

  1. Does your company accept listings?If they do, then you are not getting an Exclusive Buyers Agent (EBA).  If their answer is yes, you may want to ask them, what is your company’s share of the listing market?  If you are going to work with a company with listings, you may want to choose one that has fewer listings so that you minimize the chance of them being in a dual agency situation, whereby they represent the buyer and the seller.  Their company has a responsibility to get the highest price for the home but yet get you the best deal – pretty hard to do both.
  2. How long have you been a real estate agent?  Ideally, you want to work with someone with at least 2 years of experience.  You want to have someone that has had enough experience to anticipate where things can go wrong.  It is also beneficial to have an agent that has closed a significant number of real estate deals so that they have experience in negotiating on your behalf.
  3. Is Real Estate your full-time job?  Real Estate is such a dynamic arena.  If you are not working in the market full-time, it is difficult to keep up with the knowledge of inventory, the trends and the regulations.  Therefore, you may prefer to have someone that is dedicated full-time as this is a large purchase to make and you want the best representation possible.
  4. How many homes have you personally sold in the last 12 months?  There are many factors and nuances when considering the answer.  Ideally, the answer should be at least five.  However, this can be tricky.  If the person has been an agent for 10 years, it may not be as important that they had 5 in the past 12 months.  The idea would be to look for proven experience to help guide you through what is one of your most expensive purchases.
  5. How long have you been an agent in this market?  We would recommend that you choose an agent that has extensive knowledge of your market, someone who has been in your market at least 2 years.  There are exceptions to this rule.  You may have an agent that moves to a new market and they are very serious about their business and has gotten up to speed in 6 months.  E.G. If you have young children, you may want an agent that knows the nuances of the school board and school districts.  In order to have this type of detailed knowledge, it may require an agent that has been in your particular market for a lengthy amount of time.
  6. What type of formal negotiating training have you had in your career?  You are looking for evidence that they are not “winging it”.  You want someone that understands negotiating and will be able to obtain the best deal possible for you.  National surveys show that the highest ranked qualification that buyers look for in an agent is negotiation.  Oddly, the vast majority of real estate agents have had no training in negotiation.
  7. How would you characterize your negotiation style?  Ideally, you as a buyer will want to end up with all the things you want.  You will want to compare the agent’s answer to your expectations of how someone should ultimately negotiate on your behalf.
  8. Are you willing to show me houses so that I can familiarize myself with the market even though I am not ready to purchase quite yet?  You need to see a sampling of houses to ensure that you are making the right choice.  You will need to familiarize yourself with the market.  You will want to ensure that you have an agent that will afford you the opportunity to know that you are choosing the right house for you in the right market for you.
  9. What is the full scope of services that you will offer me?  Compare the services are offered by various agents.  Then you can make the right choice for what you expect and need as a buyer.
  10. As a real estate agent, what do you think that you do particularly well to service your clients?  Evaluate their answer based on your particular needs and what you are looking for in an agent.  E.G. Is it important to you that you have someone that takes care of things that other agents put on you?  An example might be obtaining contact info for getting your utilities hooked up or finding out what garbage company serves your neighborhood.
  11. How will you handle it if you have another buyer that is interested in the same property that I am interested in?  A buyer will want to know that priority is given to the person that makes the first offer.