Questions To Ask When Looking For An Agent

Dated: April 29 2022

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Questions you should ask when interviewing your next REALTOR.

And what you should look for in the answers. 

If you are thinking about buying or selling real estate, you're probably going to want to hire a real estate agent. And I'm here to tell you that not all real estate agents are created equal. So you might want to put a little bit of thought and effort into finding the best agent for you. With that in mind, I have a few interview questions suggestions for you, as well as some answers. 

Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent in an Interview

How long have you been a real estate agent?

The answer to this question is going to give you an idea of how much experience they have, although it's not a guarantee of how much experience they have. For example, I have been a real estate agent since 2010. That's 12 years selling real estate. I can also tell you that I have sold more than 800 homes. My team and I have been pretty consistent at selling 65-ish homes a year, sometimes a little more/less, but that's a lot of closings. The average real estate agent nationwide sells 10 houses a year. So we're selling six and a half times more than average.

What you're really wanting to know when you ask, "how long have you been in real estate" ishow much experience do you have? That being said, once upon a time I was brand new and people took a chance on me. But I can tell you, I make a lot less mistakes today than I did when I first started as a brand new agent. 

Do you work full-time or part-time as an agent?

With this question, you're trying to find outhow committed the agent is to their real estate career, which then in turn is going to be a signal of how committed they are to you. My answer is I work full-time as a real estate agent, but even if I had a job, I would probably answer the same thing just because you kind of have to work full-time at real estate. When I first started selling real estate in 2010, I did work at the Des Moines Register during the day. And then on my lunch hour, probably while I was sitting at my desk, supposed to be working at the Register, I was working real estate. (Don't tell my boss, LOL.) On Evenings and weekends, I still managed to sell a lot of real estate.

Sure, it's better to have a real estate agent whose is focused FULL TIME on real estate, because they might not be able to take your call during business hours at their other full time job. A follow up question might be to confirm that real estate is their only job. Or to confirm their availability to work with you.

How many homes did you sell last year? 

Again, you're trying to get how much experience do they have. This could also potentially work against the agent if their answer was, "I sold 350 homes last year". I say that that might backfire to the agent who has 350 sales, because that might make you (the home buyer or home seller) feel like they're too busy to give you attention.

I can tell you that that's probably not the truth. For example, I have a couple of people that work with me and together we have 65-ish sales. I don't do all of it on my own. Somebody selling 350 homes - I guarantee they're not doing that on their own. They have other people helping them reach those numbers. You could ask a follow up question, "350 homes seems like a lot. How do you find time to work with clients like myself?" OR "If we were to work with you, will you have time to dedicate to us as we are in the process of buying or selling". And that takes me right into our next question...

How many buyers are you currently working with?

You want to know how much time does the agent have to work with you. The answer to this question is actually a very gray area because every person has a different bandwidth. And by asking the question, you want to know a couple of things... Do they know what's going on in their business? Are you getting a good vibe from them that they're telling you the truth, or maybe they're hiding something from you? That would be a red flag. And do you feel like they're going to have time to dedicate to you?

Now I can tell you the person who has all of the time in the world is that brand new real estate agent that doesn't have any clients. And that's great that they've got all the time in the world, but do they have all theexperience in the world? So by finding out how many buyers somebody is working with, you get a lot of information from that, but I wouldn't use it against them. Just because someone is very, very good at balancing their time does not mean that you shouldn't give them a chance if they meet all of the other criteria for you.

How many seller clients are you working with?

This question is going to give you a lot of the same information that we just talked about only on the flip side for sellers instead of for buyers. And I can also tell you that having more seller clients is less time consuming than having buyer clients. Buyers will usually need to go out and look at homes on a regular basis. Personally, whenever I'm with a client, I don't take phone calls or text messages, unless we're in some sort of emergency situation. So having more listings or seller clients, they don't require time every single day. And the time that they do require is usually via email or a quick phone call, not a two-hour block of appointment time to go look at houses.  

Do you work with both buyers and sellers?

Yes, of course, everyone on my team works with both buyers and sellers. If the answer to that question is no - ask, "why not?" Some agents may have assigned roles on a team and each person might be designated to just buyers or just sellers. But, if the agent you're interviewing only works with sellers and not with buyers, how will that affect you? If you're a seller AND a buyer - you'll probably want to know who you'd be working with in the opposite transaction and how your needs will be met in that situation. 

What neighborhoods do you specialize in?

In the Greater Des Moines area, we are geographically spread out. You can get just about anywhere in the metro area in 20 - 30 minutes. The areas that we sell the most are west and north of downtown Des Moines. Of course, we sell on the south side, we sell on the east side, but the majority of our sales are west and north of downtown. In a market like Des Moines, it's kind of the same to sell your house in Ankeny as it is in Waukee. There's not really anything, super duper special about it that would require specialization. 

What is your schedule and availability?

Why beat around the bush - find out what you can expect for their availability up front. Personally, I'm married, and I would like to stay married. For that reason, my husband has requested a little bit of time that he can spend with just me and not me attached to my phone, taking calls from clients. So I try to stop working by 8 o'clock at night. Most days, I'm pretty good at that. Some days that doesn't work out, I might be negotiating until later than 8 o'clock at night.

But as a rule of thumb, I try to stop working by 8 o'clock at night. I'm also not a morning person, so I will never respond to your emails at 6 o'clock in the morning. And if I do something has gone very, very, very wrong. My hours of operation are roughly eight to eight, probably more like nine to eight. I'm definitely not available when I'm sleeping, and my phone is on do not disturb. So you're welcome to call and text me anytime. I'll get those messages when I'm available and can give you my full attention.

Please note that when I'm spending time with a client, I don't take phone calls or answer text messages from other clients. Unless there's some sort of emergency situation that I need to tend to. When I'm with you, I'm with you. And when I'm with someone else I'm focused on them. And then I answer calls, text messages, emails in between those appointments. 

How will you help me get a competitive edge in this market?

This question is actually hard to answer generically on a video like this, because it's going to vary based on whether you're buying or selling, what price range you're in, what area you're in, how competitive is the market that you're in. But I can tell you, a lot of people will ask their agent for advice and then they don't take it. And then they don't get the house that they want.

"If you're going to hire a real estate agent, you should pick the person whose advice you want to take because otherwise, what good are we?"

That is my list of questions that I think you should ask when you're interviewing a real estate agent. Hopefully you'll have everything you need to evaluate if they would be a good fit for you. OR, maybe my answers to these questions have already sold you on hiring me. That'd be great, let's talk and see if we're a good fit.

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Heather Wright

In the competitive Des Moines market, Heather Wright combines client-focused service, innovative marketing techniques, and a decade of experience to make sure that your buying or selling experience is....

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