Here are 12 essential questions you should ask your real estate agent or broker before you hire them to help with your home sale or purchase. When you are ready to be paired with a top notch agent in your area, use the form below to request a connection and then you can use these questions before making a selection.

  1. How many years of experience do you have? 

Experienced agents typically make better agents. Look for Realtors® with at least five years’ experience in the local market. Check that they are used to dealing with properties that mirror yours in terms of size, style and price point. A seasoned agent used to selling deluxe golf estates may not be the best agent for selling a production starter home.

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2. Do you hold any special accreditations?

All real estate agents should be licensed by their local state regulatory board. Many real estate agents take their education further and earn advanced designations in specialties such as buyer representation, property management, second-homes and the seniors market. About half of all licensed agents belong to the National Association of Realtors. NAR members pledge to observe a strict code of ethics and continuous training that typically goes beyond that required by the state regulators. Advanced designations are not deal-breakers, but they do signal a commitment to the profession.

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3. How many homes did you close last year?

The Grand Rapids Real Estate agent with a stellar sales record likely is a knowledgeable expert with a significant profile in the local market. Who wouldn’t want to hire a hard-working, driven dynamo? But, hold up a minute. A solo agent who is selling two or three homes a week likely is not going to have time for you. You want a real estate agent that will hold your hand through the home selling process, not pass you to an assistant or be too busy to return your calls.

4. How many homes did you close in my neighborhood?

Real estate markets are incredibly local: so local, in fact, that one house may experience a different price point and absorption rates (time on the market), and attract a different type of buyer, to a similar house just one street over. A good agent on paper is no use to you if she isn’t doing active business in your local market. Exceptional agents typically specialize in just a handful of communities. That way, they can keep up to date with school rankings, crime rates, zoning policies, employment statistics, freeway expansions –  all the metrics that determine a property’s true value.

5. How many days does it take you to sell the average home? 

The real estate agent you interview should be able to tell you how long her listings sit on the market, and how that compares to the overall market.

6. What percentage of your homes sell at the full asking price? How close to the initial asking prices were the final sale prices of the homes you sold? 

This question establishes how skilled the agent is at pricing homes. Get the price point too high, and the home will be harder to market and sell; too low, and you’ll be out of pocket by many thousands of dollars.

7. Will I be working with you directly or passed to a teammate?

Real estate agency teams are growing in popularity. Done properly, they allow people with different skill-sets to collaborate. A well-structured team frees the sales agent to do what she does best – sell your home – while the administration team shows houses and handles the paperwork. On the other hand, collaboration doesn’t work if the team behind the agent is poor, or you can’t connect with your primary agent. If you’re worried about being passed to an assistant, go with the solo player.

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8. Do you work full-time or part-time as a real estate agent?

Deals can be won or lost in minutes. You deserve an agent who is dedicated full time to your home. 

9. Do you own your own home?

Around 85% of real estate professionals are homeowners. An agent that has been through the process is more likely to empathize with your situation and soothe your worries respectfully. An agent who lives locally is more likely to have their finger on the pulse of the local market and can offer first-hand advice about the local community, such as the schools and transport systems.

10. How will you market my home?

You don’t want an agent who’s going to put a poor quality photograph of your house on the company website and hope for the best. Good agents have aggressive and multi-pronged marketing strategies that adapt to a buyer’s or a seller’s market. Press for details. Does the agent keep a database of interested buyers? How will she approach them? Will the agent put advertisements in newspapers? How will she exploit the internet and social media? Will someone stage the home?

11. How often will I hear from you?

You’re both busy people, so you need an agent whose communication style fits well with yours. Do you prefer the agent to keep in touch through phone calls or e-mail? Do you expect a call after someone tours your house, even if the viewer is no hot prospect? Would you like twice-weekly updates, or just when there’s something to report?

12. Why should I hire you?

This is a classic interview question that can take the wrong road unless the agent has done some thinking ahead of time. Don’t settle for someone who promises to list, market and sell your property: this is the basic level of service that every agent should offer. What you want to hear is, what makes this person stand out from the crowd? If the agent can’t sell herself, she probably can’t sell your home.