Imagine that you’re trying to pick a restaurant for date night. There are hundreds of restaurants in your area. You want to choose the best option, but the choices are almost overwhelming. So you just go to the first page of Google, quickly scan the reviews section, and make a reservation at the first restaurant that looks like it has a decent atmosphere.

When you arrive, you think, “ok, so the pictures online didn’t show the fluorescent lighting.” Your food comes cold, and your date finds a hair in their zucchini. Fortunately, you can leave with only a few hours and a few dollars lost. Maybe you make a trip to Walgreens for some Alka Seltzer, but no actual harm is done.

Buying a house, however, is a decision that will last years (or decades!). If you don’t ask the right questions and research the process thoroughly, you could be stuck in a similar situation. But this time, with much more significant impacts.

That’s why hiring a trusted, credible real estate agent is so important. Make sure you do your research and ask the right questions.

88% of buyers purchased their homes through an agent last year. Choosing the right agent for you is crucial in securing success in this crazy market. To make sure you’re making an informed decision, here are 13 questions to ask your agent before hiring them.

  1. Do I have to sign a contract with you?

Some agents require you to sign a service agreement before you even start shopping for your home. This isn’t necessarily bad.  As a client, this contract will ensure that the agent is working on your behalf in your search and it will allow them to provide more candid real estate advice along the way.  Signing an agreement with your agent also provides a commitment with one another to help protect the agent’s time investments with you. 

  1. How long have you been an agent?

In real estate, experience always means expertise. It’s a massive benefit to work with someone who has worked in real estate for many years and under different economic cycles. With this experience, they will have the confidence to navigate surprises and complex negotiations.

New agents always have to start somewhere, though! If your interviewee is new to the industry, perhaps follow up with the question, “how do you handle unexpected situations?” or “if I ask you a question that you don’t know, how would you handle that?”

  1. About how many homes do you help buyers purchase each year? How many listings do you have? 

You want to work with someone who holds a good book of business but still has enough time to serve your needs well.  If you are interviewing an agent that works with a ton of buyers and sellers, make sure you ask about their process and support system for taking on addition business.

  1. Do you work with both buyers and sellers?

Many agents specialize in either buying or selling. It’s fantastic to find someone who specializes! But an agent who does both could offer advice from both sides of the process. It also means you have the potential to form a life-long relationship. If you’re happy with the experience, you could hire them again whenever you’re ready for another move. You might as well set yourself up to avoid the vetting process in the future, right?

  1. Can I see your real estate license?

Ok, this might seem obvious, but it’s always good to double-check things like this! You don’t want to start working with someone and then realize their license is expired OR that they were never licensed in the first place.

  1. Will you send me some references?

Google reviews are great and all, but you’ll never get a more realistic review than talking to someone on the phone who has already worked with the agent. Strong personal references are very telling. 

  1. How long have you lived in Madison?

We highly recommend working with someone who knows the area well and who will be able to give you personal insights into different locations, local attractions, and trends in the market/various neighborhoods. No one knows this better than a local!

  1. Will I be working with you individually or with a team?

In some agent relationships, you’ll only ever interact with the agent you’ve hired. In other cases, it’s more of a team-based environment. You may work with several people, especially if your agent has a busy family life or an upcoming vacation. There are pros and cons to each situation. If you find an agent you like, learn what kind of environment they work in and decide if it’s in your comfort zone.

  1. Can you recommend vendors?

Vendors mean home inspectors, contractors, mortgage lenders, etc. It’s also okay to ask for a list of recommended vendors before hiring! Give the vendors a Google search to see if your real estate agent has up-to-date information. 

  1. What is your process for reviewing Offer documents?

Never work with someone who asks you to sign something without explaining what you are signing.  A real estate agent should always walk you through the documents you are signing, explain the terms and conditions and help you understand.  

  1. What will you do to make me a competitive buyer?

The current climate of the housing market is highly competitive. How will your agent fight for you in the marketplace? What have they done in the past to help someone win against multiple offers?

  1. What’s the best way/ time to contact you?

Don’t underestimate the importance of making sure your schedules align! If you’re a night owl, but your agent prefers an 8 PM bedtime, it may not be the best fit.

Asking if they prefer text, call, or email is a great way to ensure you’re always in touch in the best way possible.

  1. Are you a badgers fan?

Don’t hire them if they’re not. JUST KIDDING! ; )

Want to know how we answer these questions? We’d be happy to chat anytime.