When it comes to finding a family doctor or dentist, you do your research and check out reviews. Well, it should be no different when you’re looking for a real estate agent - especially when you are buying your first home. Buying a property is a huge investment, and you need to make sure you have an expert working with you, who can assist you every step of the way.
It’s a good idea to talk with multiple agents before committing to any one. A good agent is selective about their clients too, and should be willing to set up an initial conversation that will benefit both parties.
Some key things you want to find out in this initial discussion include:
How much they know about your chosen neighbourhood
Their reputation within the industry
If they have the resources to do a good job
How communicative they are
Whether you can have a good working relationship with them
If they care about your needs and expectations
There are several key questions you need to ask when interviewing your potential real estate agent to ensure you cover all of these areas.
1. How long have you been in the industry?
When you’re hunting for your dream home you want to work with someone who has a good sense of the neighbourhood in which you’re looking to buy. Ideally, you want to find someone who has between three and five years’ experience in the area, and whose been keeping up with the changes to the local market.
2. How many homes have you sold in the last year?
No matter how educated or experienced they are, the thing that matters is the results an agent gets. This question allows you to get an idea of whether the agent in question can meet all of your requests. If they have successfully coordinated a list of quality transactions over the last year, you can rest assured they will be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.
3. Do you mostly work with buyers or sellers?
If you’re looking to buy your first property, but your agent is more comfortable dealing with things on the other side, they may not be the one for you.
If you're buying a new home, but selling your old home at the same time, having a professional who can handle the entire process means a seamless transaction for you. Your best bet is to find someone who has worked in equal amounts with buyers and sellers so that you know they’re well-rounded and have a good grasp on how both sides of the transaction work.
4. Do you have any personal marketing materials?
First things first: if you haven’t already seen them, you'll want to take a look at a real estate agent’s personal marketing materials. Not only are they informative, but they also give a good idea of how your agent is portraying themself in the industry. Materials include brochures, direct mail and presentation books.
Take note of how professional these materials look. If they’re printed from home in grainy black and white, you might want to move on.
5. Do you have support staff?
Depending on the size of the agency, some agents have additional staff on hand to offer support. This will give you an indication of how successful your chosen agent is, as well as an indication of how specialized their service is. If your agent has people on hand to help, there is more manpower to do research and find you the best house. If your agent has an assistant that frees up more of their time, that can only mean good things.
6. Do you have any vendors you would recommend?
The more experienced an agent is, the more trusted relationships they will have developed over the years, which means they will be able to source the best properties and connect you with other industry professionals.
7. What questions do you have for me?
You might not even think this is something you should ask, but it’s one of the most important parts of the process. Remember, this journey is about your wants and needs, and you should be the main priority for your real estate agent. From the neighbourhood you hope to settle down in to the amenities you want on site, the more your agent gets to know you the better they can help meet your goals. Agents who ask more questions tend to be the best at offering a client-centred service.
Buying a property can be a long journey, often with many ups and downs., Make sure you have a strong real estate agent leading the way.