As a Home Buyer, Questions You May Want To Ask Before Hiring Any Real Estate Representative.
Your decision to buy a home in London Ontario and area clearly involves more than looking at two or three homes, making an offer, and moving in.
Hiring the wrong Realtor® can mean the difference between making and losing money, selling or buying quickly…or taking a long time, a trouble-free transaction, or a nightmare.
Unless you have experience interviewing people (and real estate sales people in particular), you won’t always know what questions to ask. Further, you won’t always know what answer will best suit your needs for buying or selling.
Tip: Make sure he or she is not telling you just what you want to hear.
So here’s a list of 11 important and insightful questions you may want to ask any real estate person.
Question #1: How Long Have You Been a Real Estate Sales Person?
This question will reveal more than just years in the business. We have all heard of 10 years of one year experience! You want to delve down into the number of transactions, average price range, specialized areas and types of homes they’ve purchased or sold. You also want to know how productive they’ve been in each year in practice.
( Did you notice I did not say practicing real estate? I squint my eyes when a lawyer says he/she has been practicing law for 15 years! You would think after 15 years they would know something and not still be practicing. )
Some Realtors® in business less than five years may have more experience than other agents in business 10 years or more! You want to know how many brokerages they’ve worked for, and what kind of experience they have that will apply directly to your real estate situation.
Question #2: What Qualifications Do You Have To Sell Real Estate?
This question looks for their overall commitment and dedication to building his/her personal skills. If they’re not willing to commit to improving themselves, they may not commit to your needs and satisfaction either.
How often do they invest in improving their skills and keeping up with technology and other industry trends?
Experience should also carry over to negotiating and financial skills. And don’t forget the ancillary experience required for real estate such as work ethic, dependability, reliability & have financial integrity.
Question #3: Tell Me About Your Personal Real Estate Operation?
This is an open-ended question designed to get your Realtor® talking about his or her business. You want to know how much they’ve invested into their business as it relates to giving you competent and quality service. For example, do they have an assistant to take home inquiries when they’re not in the office? Do they have a private office either with the broker or are they on their own? Their own website or their brokearge's?
Here’s what you’re looking for: The more a Realtor® invests into his or her own success, office, and systems, the more he/she will be able to commit to you.
Are you part time? Successful Realtors® do not need to supplement their income. I get calls every week from Realtors® asking if I would take them on part time and while I have compassion for them, I have found that if one is dedicated to this profession, it can be a 50-70 hour week or more to look after your clients!
Question #4: Can You Give Me A List Of Client References To Call?
A Realtor® who doesn’t accumulate a list of satisfied references either doesn’t do much business, or isn’t providing the kind of service or follow-through you need. References don’t always need to be past clients. Get professional references as well: bankers, mortgage lenders, appraisers, lawyers, etc.
Question #5: Do You Have a Buyer System?
Does your Realtor® have a Buyer Program which not only educates you with up to date buyer strategies, but also is actively proactive in finding you a home? This may sound foolish but I can’t tell you how many times buyers contact me through one of my listings wanting to see a property or get information.
Their Realtor® hasn’t made the call or appointment and they say they haven’t talked to their Realtor® in a week or haven’t been able to get a hold of him or her for a few days!
Question #6: What Systems Do You Have For Tracking The Home Market (Buyers) On A Regular Basis?
This is a very important question. As a buyer, you want to know his or her competence in understanding values of certain areas. They also need systems to keep you continually up-to-date with opportunities in the market. You want them to have more than “access to Multiple Listing Service.”
How often do they actually preview homes in your price range or desired area? How often do they talk to neighbors or participate with other activities in those areas?
If a real estate sales person does not have specific systems for measuring and reporting these items, perhaps you should consider someone else.
Question #7: Do You Guarantee Your Performance?
Some Realtors® will give you a blank stare at this question. If they do, you might want to consider taking your business elsewhere. Why? Because you need to know if your interests are aligned.
Is your Realtor® willing to stake his or her successful outcome with yours? Why shouldn’t your Realtor® also guarantee his/her performance?
Truly professional Realtors® guarantee their services for two reasons: 1) They’re confident they can perform for you because of their experience, commitment, and work ethic; and 2) it’s the only way they do business! If you buy a television, it’s guaranteed. If you buy a car, it’s guaranteed.
Question #8: Can You Refer Me To A Reputable Mortgage Lender, Banker, Appraiser, or Real Estate Lawyer?
This question reveals how active the Realtor® is, and how well connected they are professionally. At some point in the buying or selling process, you will need the services of a reputable, competent lender, appraiser, lawyer, etc. If your Realtor® is active, committed, and diligent with their practice, he or she will be able to give you a few names of each right on the spot.
Question #9: What Percentage Of Your Business Comes By Referral?
Here’s the “$64,000 question!” Competent, well-known sales professionals get a large part of their business from satisfied past clients and members of their sphere of influence.
If a Realtor® gets less than 75% of new business through referrals, it may be because:
1) The quality of service they offer is not up to standard (hence, people don’t feel compelled to refer to them after a transaction);
2) They lack the marketing experience or skills required to market for referrals (which means they may not bring strong skills to your transaction);
3) They don’t cultivate contacts in their business (which means they won’t have many people to speak with about your home). Clearly, the best way past clients show their gratitude for outstanding service is by referring their family, friends, and associates.
Question #10: How Many People Do You Speak With Each Day About Real Estate?
This question will tell you how connected a Realtor® is, and how active they’ll “talk-up” your home to buyers, or find a home for you by talking to other
Hopefully, your Realtor® talks to at least 20 people a day about real estate. If not, they may not be very active.
Question #11: Will You Personally Handle Contract Negotiations For Us?
Surprisingly, many Realtors® simply submit or receive offers, and act as a conduit between you and the buyer (or seller). Or, their assistant or you are passed down to some inexperienced new person. That’s not good enough. You want someone who has above average negotiation skills. You want someone who’s committed to your interests.
They’ll need to represent you to the other Realtors® buyers and sellers. It’s a good idea to follow-up the above question by investigating specifically how their negotiation skills saved other clients money, hassles, or help a deal come together.
There Are “Real Estate Agents”…
And Then There Are Committed Professionals.
Which One Do YOU Want Representing Your Interests?
The answers to the above questions should give you a good feel for the commitment and competency of the Realtor® you’re thinking about using.
There’s a difference between who Realtors® simply sell real estate, and those who commit to what it takes to serve clients and help them buy or sell a home properly.
Buying and selling real estate should not be taken lightly, we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars to entrust that hard earned money with just anybody. And selecting the wrong Realtor® lawyer, home inspector or lender can cost you a lot of money, headaches, and wasted time.
Wisdom is not something you learn, it is something you become!
Some Further Notes
“Why should I work with just one sales person? Why don’t I do it myself, go to Open Houses, use the listing agent because it will be cheaper and I can make my own deal” are thoughts that go through many buyer’s minds.
All reasonable thoughts but do not lose the perspective of why you are buying a home in the first place. Thinking that you will get a better deal by working with the listing agent is not true in about 94% of cases! Lawyers cannot act for both parties, why do you think that is?
So why can buyers and sellers use the same Realtor®? Who is protecting whom?
Avoid Dual Agency if at all possible and if you find a home on your own, know that the Realtor® represents the seller, not you! Yes, it’s true. And the question you have to ask yourself is… “Is this person going to represent my interests?”
Think about this: If you had to go to court, would you use the same lawyer the opposing side was using? I think you know the answer! A buyer’s representative doesn’t cost you a nickel more than any other REALTOR®. Even though they represent you, they’re still paid out of the standard commission…
- Buyer representation will support your interests only. This includes finding your home, helping with financing, and negotiating the best possible terms for you. A buyer’s representative will keep everything about you and your offer confidential!
- A good Realtor® knows the area you want to buy in because he/she is out constantly looking at homes.
- A good Realtor® can spot trouble for you. He or she will be experienced at looking at homes and will see things you might not see.
- A good Realtor® will greatly simplify the buying process.
- A good Realtor® will give you motivated, reliable financing sources and options.
- A good Realtor® will refer you to proven inspectors, lawyers and accountants and other service providers you’ll need.
What does it cost as a buyer to use a real estate salesperson?
The compensation that a Realtor® receives typically comes from the seller’s proceeds. In other words, there is no cost for a buyer to use a Realtor® in the traditional agent/buyer relationship.
“Can my sales representative give me information regarding properties from other companies?”
Yes, if that other company is a member of Multiple Listing Service (MLS) - which most real estate companies are. For Sale by Owner (FSBO) properties are not listed on MLS so a Realtor® likely would not be able to provide information regarding them. However, a good Realtor® will contact that FSBO (because he is working for you!) and have access to research that property.
“What about new homes?”
Again, a good Realtor® can take you through the homes you and the agent have selected, and, negotiate on your behalf. Remember, the new home sales person is representing the builder, not you!
“What if I find a property of my own?”
You should contact your Realtor® and not the property owner or the REALTOR® listing the property.
“Can I go to open houses without my REALTOR®?”
Yes, but make sure that that you indicate that you are working with someone already. This will prevent unwanted follow up calls or pressure from other Realtor®’s.
“How do I find out about new properties?”
Depending on your preference and urgency, a good Realtor® will email or call with new listings that match your criteria. As well, a good agent with a great network of contacts will know about properties that may be available soon, but not yet on the market.
“When I find the right property, then what?”
A very good Realtor® will do the following:
- Do a comparison of the area to see that the price is consistent with the other comparable homes and help you decide on what price you should offer.
- Prepare an offer that you FULLY UNDERSTAND and add clauses that will protect you such as: Financing clause: Home Inspection Clause: Insurance clause: Agency Relationship (who the agents represent) and other clauses that will protect your investment and make your home buying experience a pleasant one.
- Present the offer and if the offer is countered back, work with you and the seller to arrive at a satisfactory arrangement.
- Be present at the home inspection
- Follow up with all waivers and assist your lawyer if requested to with any information required.
- Do a final walk-through with you BEFORE you sign any legal papers!
- Be available AFTER CLOSING to assist you with any unforeseen problems or questions arise.
Well, that’s it, I hope that by reading the above pages you now understand the process better and why it is very important for you and your family that you choose the best Realtor® for you and to do so wisely!