How to interview an agent

May 07, 2000

The following is a list of questions -- suggested by industry professionals -- to ask when interviewing a real estate agent and the answers a seller should receive.

Question: How long will it take to sell my home at this price?

Answer: Be wary of anyone who makes time- and price-specific guarantees.

Q: How do you plan to market my home?

A: Look for a written, professional marketing plan that includes ads in local newspapers, real estate magazines, and on the Internet. For higher-end homes, ask about television advertising. Expect marketing dollars to run from 6 percent to 20 percent of the broker's commission. Ask for examples of what the agent has done for other clients. The agent should focus on specifics of the plan.

Q: What if the house does not sell within a set time?

A: Realtors should have a Plan B in which the price is adjusted, the condition is improved, or the marketing is changed.

Q: How often do you think the house will be shown? Will you conduct open houses and, if so, how often?

A: In general, a good Realtor. will hold at least two open houses a month and arrange several showings a week. Also, agents are turning more to a midweek brokers open house to showcase a home to other agents and generate demand.

Q: Will the listing agent follow up all showings with a call, saying what potential buyers liked or disliked about the house?

A: Good Realtors will update their clients after all showings and offer feedback.

Q: How often will I hear from you once it's listed?

A: At a minimum, expect to hear an update from your agent once a week. Some agents send out written reports and will send out copies of advertising that runs on a monthly basis.

Q: What can I do to sell this house?

A: Beware of agents who tell you the house is perfect as it is. Look for an agent who is not as concerned about your feelings, but knows how to get the job done.

Q: How will I know if a buyer is qualified to buy the house?

A: As a rule of thumb, agents should pre-qualify buyers and be able to show sellers their financial ability to purchase the home.

Q: Can I have references from former clients within the past few months? Can I have your promises and claims of what you will do to sell my house in writing?

A: A good agent will not have a problem supplying these.

Q: How familiar are you with this community?

A: A seller should look for an agent who knows the community and who has done business in the neighborhood.

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