Questions to Ask When Choosing a REALTOR®

The National Association of REALTORS® publishes a guidebook with a TON of great information to help buyers understand what to expect during the real estate purchasing experience.  We’re posting some of our favorite articles here.

Interested in learning more? E-mail us for your own copy today!

Choosing an agent can be a daunting task.  There are over 35,000 Real Estate Agents in the Greater Houston area.  Not only do you need to find an agent that understands what you are looking for, you also need to find someone who is available, helpful, and responsive.

Here are some questions, published by NAR, as suggestions to ask agents before entering into a representation agreement with them.

How long have you been in residential real estate? Is it your full-time job?
Like most professions, experience is no guarantee of skill. But much of real estate is learned on the job.

Katie Day: My Real Estate career started in 2008, when I first got a job in residential property management.  After moving throughout Florida and eventually finding myself in Texas, I obtained my Real Estate License in 2015.  Real Estate is my full-time job and I am dedicated to learning as much as I can so that I may better serve my clients.

Do you have any designations or certifications?
Real estate professionals have to take additional specialized training in order to obtain these distinctions. Designations and certifications help define the special skills that an agent can apply to your particular real estate needs. One designation buyers should look for is the ABR®, or Accredited Buyer’s Representative.

Katie Day: I currently have my TAHS (Texas Affordable Housing Specialist) and the RENE (Real Estate Negotiation Expert) certifications.  I am continually working to obtain more certifications.  Continuing education classes offered by local associations and my brokerage help to sharpen my skills as a REALTOR®!  Recently, I obtained my GRI (Graduate, Realtor Institute) designation, which is a three-part course focusing on different facets of Real Estate (law, marketing, and brokerage responsibility).  I am looking to obtain more designations and learn more about the industry while balancing my current client obligations and, of course, some fun!

What’s your business philosophy?
While there’s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what’s important to the agent and determine how closely the agent’s goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.

Katie Day: I want to educate you so that you can feel comfortable making an informed and sound decision in what’s likely to be the biggest purchase of your life.  Buying a home is not only an investment in your future, but also a place for you to spend time with loved ones. I will be responsive and dedicated to you as a client.

How many buyers did you and your real estate brokerage represent last year?
This will tell you how much experience they have and how up-to-date they are on the local market.

Katie Day: In 2015, I helped 58 families secure a new home.  Two of those were residential sales (home or condo), and the remainder were rentals (apartment and single family homes).

What’s the average variation between your initial offers and final sales price?
This is one indication of a REALTOR®’s pricing and negotiating skills.

Katie Day: I can provide you with a full list of my listings and buyer-represented sales.  My Average Sold Price / List Price ratio is 98.98%.

Will you represent me exclusively, or might you choose to represent the seller as well?
While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, your REALTOR® should be able to explain his or her philosophy on client obligations and agency relationships.

Katie Day: I generally will represent a buyer (or seller) exclusively.  In the past, there have been situations in which a buyer and/or seller want me to represent both parties in the transaction.  If we choose to work together, I’ll explain the pros/cons of each situation to you.

Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and so on?
Practitioners should be able to recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with any of the providers.

Katie Day: I have a list of service providers that I’ve worked with in the past and would recommend to clients, friends, and family.  I will always provide a list with multiple vendors for you to choose from.

How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction?
The best answer here is a question. A real estate agent who pays close attention to the way you prefer to communicate and responds accordingly will make for the smoothest transaction.

Katie Day: This, as NAR states, will depend on you.  I’m fine talking on the phone, via text, or e-mail (or all three!)  I find it easier, if there are multiple people/decision makers, to have a group text/e-mail and occasional phone call/in-person meetings.  But, depending on your schedule and availability, I’ll make myself available to you.  I tell my clients, “if I’m awake, I’ll respond.”

Could you please give me the contact information of your three most recent clients?
Ask their former customers if they would use the agent again in the future.

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