Best Questions To Ask A Realtor When Buying or Selling A House

10 min. read

The Importance Of Choosing The Right REALTOR

When it comes to something as important as you and your family’s home, it goes without saying that you should want to make sure you choose the very best Realtor. The fact is, the Realtor that you choose to work with will be the difference between a stressful and potentially costly experience, or a positive and rewarding one.

So how can you be assured you will choose the right Realtor to buy or sell your home?

Even more important than a referral or reviews, your ability to choose the best Realtor to buy or sell your home will be determined by the questions you ask before hiring them.

That said, we put together a list of what we feel are the most important questions to ask any Realtor before hiring them. These are not elementary level questions, but rather questions of substance that will clearly identify the best realtor for you.

To further assist in identifying the best Realtor to work with, we have included what we would consider ideal responses to the proposed questions and the reasoning behind them.

Why You Should Work With A REALTOR

A Realtor has been through education and testing to ensure they know and understand all aspects of a real estate transaction. They are there to provide guidance, tools, resources, data, negotiating tactics, marketing skills, and knowledge of the process in order to accomplish their client's goals and avoid costly mistakes.

According to a recent study from NAR (National Association of Realtors), the average sales price of a home sold with a Realtor was $250,000. Whereas, the average FSBO (For Sale By Owner) home sold for $190,000 and when it was FSBO where the buyer knew the seller the average sales price was $160,000.

Understanding the benefits of why you should be working with a REALTOR is important, but in this post, we are focusing on what questions you should ask so you can find the right one. 

Questions To Ask A Realtor When Interviewing Them To Help Buy Or Sell Your Home

Questions To Ask When Interviewing Realtors

Whether you need a buying or selling agent you will want to ask the following questions to gain insight into your potential Realtors' professional experience, success as a real estate agent, knowledge of your area, their service and accountability to their clients, and their areas of expertise.

Are You A Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Broker, Or A Realtor?

Why you are asking this question

Most do not ask this question but as you can see below the difference between the three will likely impact your experience.

Definitions: 

A Real Estate Agent is a professional that has completed all of the required education and testing requirements to earn a license in their state. Real Estate Agents work under the supervision of a managing Broker. 

A Real Estate Broker is a licensed Real Estate Agent that has completed additional education and testing requirements as well as maintained an active Real Estate License for a certain period of time. Typically Brokers manage or own a Real Estate Agency and oversee the Agents at that office. 

A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent or broker that belongs to the State and National Association of REALTORS and are members of the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service where all listings and pertinent data is housed).

An ideal response would be...

That they are REALTOR. 

Keep in mind all REALTORS are licensed Real Estate Agents and/or Real Estate Brokers but not all Real Estate Brokers and Real Estate Agents are REALTORS.

  

What Kind Of Real Estate Experience Do You Have In The Area I Am Interested In?

Why you are asking this question

When choosing a real estate agent or Realtor you are going want to know they are knowledgeable and experienced in the area you are interested in. 

Many recommend asking, “How long have you been in real estate?” but you need to be careful with this question. More so than years in the business, you are looking for a Realtor that is active and in tune with the market that you are interested in. 

Keep in mind experience is not always measured by years in the business but rather how many transactions one has completed and their level of activity in the market.

 An ideal response would be...

They share that they are extremely active in that price range or area and have successfully assisted other clients with similar situations and goals in that same area or price range. 

Of course, the experience of each Realtor will vary so the must-ask questions below will provide some guidance when choosing your Realtor.

Do You Practice Real Estate Part-Time or Full-Time? 

Why you are asking this question

As a part-time listing agent or buyer's agent, their time and availability are likely to be limited. It would also lead most to believe that they would have less experience as well. 

This will be your home and likely the largest investment you will make, which should warrant a dedicated professional.

An ideal response would be... 

That they are a Full-Time REALTOR that is dedicated to their profession and their clients.

  

Can You Provide Me A Few Verified Testimonials?

Why you are asking this question 

This is a professional service and reviews today on just about every review platform can be manipulated in one way or another. Because of this, verified testimonials from previous clients will be important. 

 An ideal response would be…

That they share a few verified testimonials from previous clients. Video tends to be the most credible but this could be letters of recommendation, emails, etc. 

Many Realtors may encourage you to look at their reviews on Z-illow (or some other review platform) but because this too can be falsely skewed, verified testimonials will provide more assurance.

  

When Am I Obligated To Work With You?

Why you are asking this question

You do not want to be surprised to learn that you are bound by an agreement to work with a Realtor that you have come to realize will not be the right person to help you buy or sell your home.

 An ideal response would be...

That you are not obligated until they have presented and explained the agreement to you. And ideally, that would be just before you make an offer on a home or list your home to sell.

You will find that some may request a signed agreement when first communicating, while others will wait until you are ready to make an offer or list your home. 

Keep in mind you will be required to sign an agreement when making an offer to buy a home or when you decide to list your home with that REALTOR. 

Questions To Ask A Realtor When Buying A House

A Couple Asking Realtor Questions About Buying A Home

  

Do You Charge An Administration (Admin) Or Broker Fee Of Any Kind?

Why you are asking this question

Every REALTOR will explain that as a buyer, their services to you are free and that the seller of the home you are purchasing will be paying their fee. 

This is accurate but many REALTORS and Real Estate Agents are now adding a Broker or Admin Fee (it could be named several things) that we have seen range from $199- $699. 

Granted, you can choose to pay this fee if you feel it is warranted but regardless you will at least want to know about it upfront and not be surprised. 

An ideal response would be...

No. They do not charge their clients a Broker or Admin fee of any kind. 

  

What Experience Do You Have Working With A Home Buyer In My Position Or Situation? 

Why you are asking this question

Whether you are a Veteran, a first-time homebuyer, investor, relocating, downsizing, buying a second home, or a combination of those, each comes with unique details to consider and watch for. 

You do not want someone learning on your home purchase.  

An ideal response would be...

Yes. They have worked with several clients like yourself and give some examples. A bonus is if some of their verified testimonials from their previous clients share a situation similar to yours.

  

What Area & Price Range Of Homes Do Your Buyer Clients Tend To Be In?

Why are you asking this question

You will be looking in a certain price range of homes that could be below the median price range, in the median price range, or above the median price range for particular areas. 

Each of these price ranges and areas will have different things to consider. This can be that the area or price range is more or less competitive, there may be more or less room to negotiate, who's paying closing costs in that price range, etc. 

You are wanting to make sure the REALTOR you choose is very familiar with the price range and area you are looking at. 

An ideal response would be...

Yes, that they are very familiar with your price range of homes and the areas you may be considering.

To follow up on that question you may want to follow with: “what do we need to keep in mind or consider in that (my) price range and area?”. The REALTORS response will give you some insight into their experience in that price range and in those areas.

  

Do You Have Any Tools, Information, Or Resources You Can Provide That Will Help Me Find A Home?

Why you are asking this question 

The response here tends to tell you how much they have invested in their business and the service they are providing their clients. 

An ideal response would be...

That they provide their clients a private online home search that is updated throughout the day and is directly connected to the MLS (where all listings and critical data is housed) that provides numerous features that give their clients the upper hand when house hunting. 

In addition to a reliable home search, being able to provide you insightful and applicable information on buying a home in that market. Any kind of current guides, posts or information that will help you better understand the process, the market, how they work, and area would be extremely beneficial.

If the Realtor you are talking with cannot provide these kinds of tools and information, then you may want to consider interviewing additional Realtors that can.

 

What Is The Best Way To Communicate? How Do You Update Your Clients?

 Why you are asking this question

A fairly common complaint of the real estate industry is  "I called my REALTOR but I have not heard back from them." 

Before you start working with someone you are going to want to know how and when you can expect to communicate. The best way to ensure this does not become an issue for you is to share each other’s expectations upfront. 

An ideal response would be...

That they are available via phone, text, or email up until x: xx pm and if they are unable to answer that they make it a point to respond within x minutes. 

The acceptable time frame and response time will depend on what you are expecting but we would recommend making sure they have some availability outside of standard business hours.

 

What Are The Advantages Of Working With You?

Why you are asking this question

Some Realtors and Agents will provide things like a home warranty, access to their vetted list of vendors, unique negotiating strategies, extensive research, can recommend reputable lenders, know of special loan programs, etc.

 An ideal response would be...

This will be up to you but it is important to ask these questions so you can compare what advantages and incentives each Realtor provides their clients. You want to make sure the Realtor you chose provides the value and service that will assist you in accomplishing your home goals. 

 

In My Price Range, This Time Of Year, And In This Market, How Long Will It Take Me To Find A Home? And What Challenges Will I Have?

 Why you are asking this question

This is an extremely important question that is normally overlooked. More than likely you will be planning a move, giving notice elsewhere, relocating, etc. And if you are not given proper expectations you can find yourself having to settle for less than favorable living arrangements versus owning a home of your own.

 An ideal response would be...

That for your target area(s) and price range, they share the available inventory, the average number of days homes are on the market, the demand and how competitive it is, who is paying closing costs, how long it takes to close on a home, the timing you need to consider,  as well as what a winning offer would look like.

Just as important, is that they share how you can best prepare and overcome any challenges you may come across.

 

Questions To Ask A Realtor When Selling Your Home

Interviewing A Realtor To Sell Your House

 

What Is The Price Range Of Homes That You Normally Sell?

Why you are asking this question

You want to make sure that the Realtor you are talking with is versed in your price range and area of your home. A Realtor that normally lists and sells homes in the median price range ($300,000 as an example) will be at a disadvantage selling a multi-million dollar home and vice versa.

An ideal response would be...

That they work primarily in your price range, they have a large database of people to market to in that price range, and that their marketing targets the people that would qualify to buy a home in your price range.

 

 What Percentage Of Your Listings Do You Sell?

 Why you are asking this question

Any Realtor or Real Estate Agent can list a home but you are wanting the one that will sell your home for top dollar with the best terms. 

There are numerous reasons why a home may not sell but a top agent will be able to identify those reasons and have a plan to overcome them.

 An ideal response would be...

That they can give you a number or percentage without having to guess or conjure something up. And of the listings they were unable to sell, they would be able to give you the reason as to why they didn’t sell.

 

 What Recommendations Will You Have When It Comes To Preparing My Home To Sell?

 Why you are asking this question

You are going to want to make sure you and your potential Realtor would be on the same page when it comes to preparing your home to sell. 

You do not want to sign an agreement and then learn the listing agent assumed you were willing to spend a fortune on home improvements. 

Yet, you are going to want your Realtor to be able to point out quick fixes that could bring more appeal to the home or even increase the list price of your home.

An ideal response would be...

That the Realtor would walk you through what they look for in order to prepare a home to list and market and how they would recommend those items to be handled. 

Even better, is if they are experienced enough to recognize common items that could potentially come up on an inspection or an appraisal. 

Handling these items upfront helps prevent having to renegotiate with the buyer when it comes to the inspection and appraisal.

 

 How Do You Plan To Market My Home?

 Why you are asking this question

This is a critical question when choosing the Realtor to sell your home. Even if you are in a seller's market where homes are in high demand you are still going to want superior marketing. The more offers you can get on your home, the higher the end sales price and your net take-home should be.

An ideal response would be...

That the Realtor can show you a checklist of their proven marketing plan. This would include what kind of marketing assets they put together (professional pictures, 3D virtual reality scans, etc), where they would market the home, and why. 

Even better that they would show you copies of the ads and provide regular updates on the marketing efforts.

Keep in mind, marketing will truly have the largest impact on what you will be able to get for your home.

 

 What Are We Looking For In Offers We Receive?

 Why you are asking this question

Before you receive an offer you are going to want to know what the Realtor is looking for in an offer, what you should be looking for and the reasoning behind it. 

 An ideal response would be...

That they share upfront what an ideal offer would look like. This should include things like offer price, earnest money, lending and lender, concessions, dates, etc.

 

Communication. What Is The Best Way To Communicate? And How and When Do You Update Your Clients?

 Why you are asking this question

You want to avoid one of the biggest complaints that sellers have when working with a less than professional Realtor... "I signed the paperwork, they put a sign in the yard, and I have not heard from them since".  

You will want regular updates to follow the progress, what feedback the home is getting, if there are things noted from the feedback that should be addressed, etc.

 An ideal response would be...

That they have a process to make sure you are consistently updated and that all feedback is shared and discussed with you.

Communication is critical in this process and you and the Realtor you choose should, at the very least, have one set day a week that you discuss the progress and all the feedback on your home.

 

 What Are The Advantages Of Working With You On The Sell Of My Home?

 Why you are asking this question

You want to know what separates them from any of the other Realtors and Real Estate Agents out there. 

This is a great question because if they do not know what separates them from the others and what their unique value proposition is then they are likely not a good fit.

An ideal response would be...

That they share, with confidence, detailed advantages they provide when selling your home. Like extensive research, unique but proven marketing, negotiating tactics, large database, a network of vendors, warranties, extra services, etc.

In Conclusion

Now that you have interviewed and are confident that a Realtor is experienced and qualified, you need to consider one last thing. A question for you…

Do you feel comfortable working with this person throughout this process?

Why you are asking yourself this question

This is a person that you will be working closely with on one of the most important events in you and your family's life. This will be a sizable investment that normally involves emotionally decisions so you will want to have confidence in this person and their commitment to you.

A few things to consider...are they pushy, are they listening to you, do they explain things, are they helpful, etc.? 

Your ideal response should be…

YES! And provided that is the case, you should coordinate with your now-Realtor so you can properly plan and get started...regardless of your time frame.

If NO, then you need to qualify (using the questions above) a different Realtor that you could be confident working with.

If you have utilized the questions and the ideal responses above to choose your Realtor, then you have best positioned yourself for a positive and rewarding experience when it comes to you and your family’s home and future. Well done!

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