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How to Interview an Agent Posted On :Oct 03-2008

"Thank you for explaining the many differences between agents. We are about to list our home and want to hire the agent who will best meet our needs. Can you give us some questions to ask and what we should be looking for in their answers?”  -      A long-time Palisades homeowner 

We have a 10-page set of questions and guidelines on “How To Select A Real Estate Agent”. One question I would suggest not giving high importance is, “How much is my house worth?” Too often, an agent is selected because they give the highest estimate of value.

Here are 10 suggestions:

What is your experience and track record in real estate?

How many years in real estate and how many homes they have sold may indicate more wisdom from experience. Reviewing a list of their sales for the past two years will show if they specialize in your area and in what price range. Find out what percentage of their listings do not sell. Note if they share their average sale-to-list price ratio and how it compares to the market average. See if they offer you several names and phone numbers of references to call.

Where do you live, and where is your office?

The closer they are to your home, the better for you. An agent within 10 minutes will have much greater local knowledge and familiarity with every home that has been for sale than will an agent who is 20 minutes away. The closer agent can answer buyer questions and network more effectively.

Do you have any specialized training or background for this work, or on-going educational activities?

Agents with college degrees may have better writing and verbal communication skills. Those who also have a Broker’s license may have more knowledge. Agents who regularly attend seminars, participate in networking groups and conference calls, subscribe to professional magazines, etc. might have more expertise to better serve you.

What preparations do you recommend before we put our home on the market?

See if the agent suggests any “staging” ideas which might indicate some expertise in that area. See if they advise pre-inspections which could show a higher degree of care and a willingness to provide extra services to minimize later hassles for you.

How would you propose marketing our home?

See how many extra color ads they offer, which publications they guarantee to use, and what type of special  materials they would produce. Find out if they have a personal Internet website, what extra exposure they would provide on various other sites, and whether they offer virtual tours.

What pricing strategy would you recommend?

There is both a science and an art to pricing. Their answer may show their degree of  skills in competitive positioning. Ascertain if they have a carefully considered method for assuring you that your home will sell in a timely way and at the highest price.

What staff or team support do you provide?

Most are still “stand-alone” agents, although many now have an assistant to handle numerous administrative functions. The highest level of service is provided by an agent with a team of specialists. There is always someone available to answer the phone, attend lengthy inspections, be on top of marketing and advertising details, coordinate scheduling of property showings, keep on top of escrow issues, and help assure that all disclosure requirements are met.

How available are you, and how flexible is your schedule?

Some agents generally prefer to work only five days a week. Others are willing to answer calls and pages seven days a week and will show their listings any day most convenient to the buyers.

How would you handle multiple offers?

Some agents have no experience or skills to deal with the complex and emotional issues that come up when more than one buyer is found at the same time. Seasoned veterans may have a special system to manage the process to a sellers’ best advantage.

Why should I list my home with you?

See if their answers shows a professional commitment to service, a “good fit” for helping you accomplish your goal, a positive and enthusiastic attitude toward the work, and an appreciation and honest respect for your needs. Try to sense if there would be a good rapport with them and if you would feel compatible with their style and attitude.

Please call me if you would like the guidelines on “How To Select A Real Estate Agent”.

 
Courtesy of:

Michael Edlen  ~  310.230.7373  ~ MichaelEdlen.com

 

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