Have you done a Google search for local realtors lately? You probably got more results than you would get trying to find a pizza place.
And with all of these realtors saying pretty much the same thing (that they put you first, or they know this area), how are you supposed to differentiate or find a good one? The secret is the questions you ask them during your first meeting.
You will have the opportunity to basically interview them for the job on your first call, or during your first face-to-face. So here are the questions you will want to get thoughtful answers to.
1. What Do You Specialize in?
This can mean a geographic area or maybe a particular market.
For example, maybe they specialize in a certain neighborhood in a town where they have had great success. Or maybe they specialize in helping first-time buyers get their starter home. Or maybe they’re the area’s condo expert.
Beware of someone with no specialty. Either they’re trying to do everything and are exceptional at nothing, or they’re just starting out and haven’t established a focus yet.
2. Can I Call Your References?
This can be the best way to learn more about them.
First of all, it’s a major red flag if they don’t have any. Second of all, you will really benefit from talking to the people they have already worked with and hearing how enthusiastically they recommend them.
3. Will You Present the Offer in Person?
If you’re buying a home in a red-hot market (which, appears to be most markets these days), dream homes are won by local realtors who take things seriously and present your offer professionally and in person.
That also means they will be there and can react quickly to any counter-offers or changes in the terms.
4. Tell Me About Your Last Bidding War
This is a continuation of the last point. Where they there in person for the last bidding war? If they weren’t, you should probably look elsewhere.
Did they win their last bidding war? If so, how did they do it? It’s OK if they lost their last bidding war, as long as they can give you a detailed answer as to why, and what they learned.
5. Do You Work Full or Part-time?
If you’re in a competitive marketplace, you don’t have time for part-time.
Your shortlist needs to be only full-time local realtors. People who just do this on the side aren’t obsessed with the local real estate market as you need them to be. They need to be there every day; living it. Not dabbling in it.
6. What Price Do You Think We Can Get and Why?
This applies to you, whether you’re selling or buying a home.
If you’re selling your home, they should be able to give you a ballpark number of what you can get. More importantly, that number needs to be backed up with comparables and local market trends. Otherwise, it’s an empty promise.
And if you’re buying a home, they should be able to give you an educated guess on what it can cost to get into the area you’re looking at. Again, this needs to be based on comparables and trends. Not gut-feelings or hunches.
If either number sounds too good to be true, and there’s no real research to back it up, it is too good to be true.
7. What’s Your Plan?
This one is huge. They should be able to provide you with a detailed battle plan that outlines how they will market your home, and attract the most qualified buyers.
If you are buying a home, they should have a plan to get you all of your must-have’s, at a price you can actually afford.
If they are too vague or tightlipped about their tactics, this is a red flag. Sure, they don’t want you to take their strategy and bring it to a competitor. But you need to take priority over their secrets.
8. Why Should I Choose You Over Other Local Realtors?
This is sort of related to the specialty point we brought up earlier. Your realtor needs a unique selling proposition that separates them from everybody else… And they need to know what it is.
It could be a number of things. It could be that they have already bought or sold three homes in this neighborhood over the last 12 months. Or it could be that they already have a few buyers or sellers in mind.
What you don’t want is the same old real estate cliches for catchphrases. About how they know the neighborhood. For how they will put you first. They can say either of these things, but they need to provide you with something to back it up.
9. Who Else Will I Be Dealing With?
One of the most frustrating things when working with local realtors is having them disappear on you and handing you off to someone else. If that is going to be the experience, they should make that abundantly clear early on in the process.
They need to tell you who is on their team, and who will be handling certain aspects of your transaction.
10. How Many Other People Are You Working for Right Now?
it’s up to you, which answer will put your mind at ease the most. On the one hand, a busy and in-demand realtor has probably got a lot of business for a reason. On the other hand, you may feel like you will have to sacrifice individual attention.