Jun 14 2022

How to find the right Realtor®

Eight questions most buyers don’t know to ask when selecting a real estate agent.

Fantastic Realtors® are out there. Just ask your Academy Loan Officer for a referral if you haven’t found an agent you feel comfortable working with yet. Once you’ve found one, you can set yourself up for success—ensuring you’re working with a top-notch agent—by asking several key questions.

First, the basics. Whether you’re buying or selling, when you contact a Realtor® for the first time (either over the phone or in person), it’s smart to ask:

  • How long have you been in the business? Years (or decades) of experience speaks for itself; if an agent is new, ask if they’re working under the wing of a veteran colleague.
  • What’s your availability? If an agent has a limited schedule or is only working part-time, they may not be available to address bidding wars and other urgent needs.
  • Do you work independently or with a team? While each side has its advantages, you’ll want to know in advance if a Realtor® is part of a team, where other agents may step in and help.
  • How many clients do you have? Having clients is a great sign, but an agent serving more than 10 at once may not have the time to devote to you.
  • Are you a buyer’s or a seller’s agent? Many agents specialize in one or the other, but finding one who does both could offer a valuable view of each side of the transaction.

To determine if an agent that looks great on paper can meet your needs in real life, delve deeper with these slightly-more-probing questions.

How to find a Realtor®: 8 questions most people don’t know to ask

Use these questions to cut through the overwhelm and make a confident choice:

1. How do you handle bidding wars?

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, put this question at the top of your list. Right now, homes are receiving nearly six offers on average. As you can imagine, bidding wars are a strong possibility. It’s imperative that a prospective agent can walk you through exactly how they handle a multi-offer situation when representing a homebuyer and/or how they help a seller select the right offer.

Tip: Take note of an agent’s enthusiasm when sharing their negotiating strategy. In all likelihood, this is a skill they’re proud of and have been crafting for years, which should generate a level of excitement.

2. Do you specialize in certain neighborhoods?

It can bring instant relief to hear that an agent knows a neighborhood you have your eye on inside and out. If so, ask them for details, like: What do you think of the schools? How’s the public transport? How have housing prices changed? Have you helped other clients move there (and how did they like it)?

Tip: It’s ideal to work with an agent with at least some knowledge of the neighborhood(s) you’re looking in. Otherwise, you might need to choose another agent.

3. What did you do before you became a Realtor®?

This question offers a fun way to break the ice—and can give you helpful insight, based on an agent’s response. Were they working a corporate job and looking for more human connection and flexibility? Did they work as a contractor or home stager, adding to their years of industry experience?

Tip: Consider it an asset if an agent pivoted to real estate from another career in the industry; they may have insider knowledge about building, inspections, staging, and more or know contacts who do.

4. Which lender do you partner with?

The odds are high that an agent will have a preferred lender. However, it’s up to you whether you choose to work with them or not. But it can be helpful to find out more about an agent’s experience in working with their lender partner—how long they’ve partnered with the lender, how well the lender has connected with past clients, and how quickly the lender typically closes.

Tip: Now’s also the time to ask what an agent may need to take you on as a client. In today’s market, many agents prefer and even require a buyer to pre-qualify* before touring houses.

Take the first step: Click here to pre-qualify*.

5. What’s your marketing strategy?

If you’re selling, a prospective agent should include their marketing plan in their listing presentation, i.e., their pitch detailing how they can sell your home quickly and at a competitive price. If the marketing plan is covered briefly, you may need to ask for more detail—specifically, where and how your listing will be marketed once it’s live, as well as how well these marketing methods have worked for other sellers.

Tip: When selling, you’ll also need to know an agent’s commission structure; these fees are paid by the seller, not the buyer, and typically average around 6 percent.

6. How quickly do you respond to texts and emails?

As mentioned, time is of the essence in today’s fast-paced market. Use this question to suss out what an agent’s primary mode of communication will be—i.e., phone, email, or text, as the majority of Realtors® prefer to communicate—and whether this works for you. Also, find out how quickly you can expect a response and what an agent’s designated “off hours” may be.

Tip: If an agent observes “off hours” in the evenings or part of the weekend, ask if they have a system for getting in touch if an urgent issue arises.

7. Do you have references from past clients?

It can be tempting to skip this question in favor of sifting through online reviews. But do so with caution. The most effective way to find out how an agent works is by going straight to the source: Chat with one or more past clients. (And cross-check their responses with online reviews to be thorough.)

Tip: You can also use this time to ask to take a peek—or a picture—of an agent’s real estate license. While it may seem forward, any reputable agent will be happy to oblige.

8. Is there any question I missed that other clients ask?

This is a strong closing question that can give you immediate insight into any areas of questioning you may have overlooked. A skilled agent who’s been screened by plenty of clients may respond with related questions, like: How soon can I expect to start seeing houses? Have you completed many short-sale transactions? What’s your list-to-sell ratio?

Tip: Keep in mind that a skilled agent should be able to easily answer this question—and may also have questions of their own for you to make sure they’re able to give you what you’re looking for.

You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.

Homebuying can be so much easier with guidance from a great team. Connect with a local Academy Mortgage Loan Officer who can answer your questions, refer you to a skilled Realtor® if you haven’t found one yet, and help you pre-qualify* from anywhere.

This blog is intended for educational purposes only. Please consult a trusted professional as personal circumstances may vary. MAC323-1480326.

*Pre-qualification is not a commitment to lend.