9 Questions You Must Ask When Interviewing an Agent

“It’s critical that you make the right decision about who will handle what is probably the single largest financial investment you will ever make.”

Not all real estate agents are the same. There are many levels of education and experience that will benefit you. If you decide to seek the help of an agent when selling or buying your property, you need some good information before you make any moves.

An agent can cost or save you thousands of dollars

Picking an agent is one of those critical issues that can cost or save you thousands of dollars. There are very specific questions you should be asking to ensure that you get the best representation for your needs. Some agents may prefer that you don’t ask these questions, since the knowledge you’ll gain from their honest answers will give you a very good idea about what outcome you can expect from using them as an agent. And let’s face it – in real estate, as in life – not all things are created equal.

Hiring a real estate agent is just like any hiring process – with you on the boss’s side of the desk. It’s critical that you make the right decision about who will handle what since this is probably the single largest financial investment you will ever make.

1. What makes you different? What expanded education do you have in commercial real estate? What commercial real estate organizations do you belong to?

It’s a much tougher commercial real estate market than it was a decade ago. The commercial real estate process is much more complicated than a residential sale. What unique marketing plans and programs does this agent have in place to make sure that your property stands out favorably versus other competing properties? What things does this agent offer you that others don’t to help you sell your property in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle and for the most amount of money? Education and experience is crucial.

2. What is your company’s track record and reputation in the market place?

It may seem like everywhere you look, real estate agents are boasting about being #1 for this or that, or quoting you the number of properties they’ve sold. If you’re like many owners, you’ve probably become immune to much of this information. After all, you ask, “Why should I care about how many properties one agent sold over another. The only thing I care about is whether they can sell my property quickly for the most amount of money.”

In general, the larger the brokerage, with commercial experience, they are associated with the greater assets availble to them in terms of marketing, education and advertisng exposur. That helps get your property exposed under the best light.

3. What are your marketing plans for my property?

How much money does this agent spend in advertising? Do they have their own web site? Does the brokerage have a web site? In what internet exposure does this agent advertise? What does s/he know about the effectiveness of one medium over the other?

4. What has your company sold in my area?

Agents should bring you a complete listing of both their own, and other comparable sales in your area.

5. On average, how close is the selling price to the asking price?

This information is available from the Real Estate Board. Performance on this measurement will help you predict how high a price you will get for the sale of your property.

6. On average, how long does it take for comparable properties to sell?

This information is also available from the Real Estate Board. Does this type of property tend to sell faster or slower than the market average? Performance on this measurement will help you predict how long your property will be on the market before it sells.

7. How many Buyers are you currently working with?

Obviously, the more buyers your agent is working with, the better your chances are of selling your’s quickly. It will also impact price because an agent with many buyers can set up an auction-like atmosphere where many buyers bid on your property at the same time.

8. Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact?

Ask to see this list, and then proceed to spot check some of the names.

9. What happens if I’m not happy with the job you are doing to get my property sold?

Can I cancel my listing contract? Be wary of agents that lock you into a lengthy listing contract where they can get out of (by ceasing to effectively market your property) but you can’t. There are usually penalties and broker protection periods which safeguard the agent’s interests, but not yours. How confident is your agent in the service s/he will provide you? Will s/he allow you to cancel your contract without penalty if you’re not satisfied with the service provided?

Evaluate each agent’s responses to these 9 questions carefully and objectively. Who will do the best job for you? These questions will help you decide.