The Declaration of Independence states 'all men are created equal', but not all Realtors are right for helping every person buy or sell a home. It's a lesson you may not want to learn the hard way, and doing a simple vetting of a Realtor before engaging in a contract with them can save you a lot of time, and a future headache along the way. It's kind of like a first date in a lot of ways. Here's some simple, yet effective, questions to ask while interviewing candidates.
What is your Real Estate experience?
Why? - You'll notice I didn't say 'How long have you been in the business'. That's because there are plenty of Realtors out there who have simply had their license for many years, doing it part-time, and only doing a few transactions a year. So you'll want to ask not only how long they've been in the business, but how many transactions they do each year on average. A Realtor who does very few transactions can either be new, part-time, untrustworthy, or unknowledgeable. But one who does too many may not have enough time to devote to your needs. Most experienced individual Realtors do between 2 and 5 transactions a month on average.
My Answer? I have had my license since March of 2010, I am a full-time Realtor, and I do roughly 30-40 transactions every year.
Are you a Buyers or Sellers Realtor?
Why? - Believe it or not, not every Realtor works with both buyers and sellers. On some Realtor teams, there's one or two Sellers Realtors who do not work with buyers, and there's several Buyers Realtors, who do not list homes. Each part of the process requires having knowledge and experience in performing it, so hiring a Buyers Realtor to list your home may not be a very good experience for you. Make sure you can find out the work they've done, and know the process involved in either part of the transaction.
My Answer? - I'm an individual Realtor, so I do work with both Buyers and Sellers. I'm thoroughly engaged in both practices, and have a lot of experience doing both. You can find my past sales on Zillow, underneath my current listings.
Can you help me find a lender, insurance, and repair people?
Why? - Having good connections in this industry is vital. Your business will not survive if you're recommending people who simply are not very good at their jobs to help your clients. Moreover, knowing the business each vendor can do will greatly increase your ability to get referrals from past clients if the job is well done. There are plenty of lenders, insurance people, tradesman, and realtors who simply are not very good. It's like any other industry. But referring you to the right ones can make all the difference in you being happy with the process. Keep in mind, kickbacks are not allowed. It's a violation of the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA), so you're welcome to ask for a few referrals for each vendor. We are happy to provide you with some, but also let you know which ones will be better tailored for you given your situation.
My Answer? - Yes, I can. I have a policy of not referring anyone I wouldn't personally use myself. More often than not, the ones I do refer to potential buyers and sellers are the vendors I have personally used. I can vouch for their service because i've experienced it myself, and I know how they operate.
Can you share references?
Why? - You need to hear first hand how someone who personally used a Realtor thought of them. Did they trust them the whole way through? Were they communicative, and did they answer your questions? Did they keep you on the right track? All of these things you won't get to know unless you ask someone directly involved in the process. Don't be afraid of it being rude. A Realtor who is offended by asking for testimonials probably doesn't have very good ones, or is too high and mighty to worry about working with someone who actually questions them.
My Answer? - I'm happy to share my clients information, provided they're ok with it first. It's a privacy law violation to just give out personal info without their consent. You can also find my Zillow Reviews and Facebook Reviews from past clients online.
How do you communicate with clients?
Why? - Every person is different with how they prefer to communicate. Maybe it's convenience, maybe it's their generation. Find out how they like to communicate so you can determine if it's the right way for you.
My Answer? - I use email, phone, text, and even social media if necessary. I like to find out what my clients prefer for communication so I know how to better serve them. I've had some clients without cell phones, so I had to email or use social media. Others traveled so much they could only text. I'm very flexible.
What haven't I asked I would need to know?
Why? - You won't know the answer to something you haven't asked. Real Estate is a complex business, and a very litigious one. There are no stupid questions, but you can make mistakes if you're afraid to ask a question. You might destroy your financing if you buy a new car while you're under contract if you've never asked. Ask about the process, areas fitting the kind of house you're looking for, and schools, among other things.
My Answer? - Every transaction is different. One person's experience won't be the same one you have. Even with the same Realtor. To keep my clients more informed during the process, I wrote a Home Sellers and Home Buyers handbook. It will answer most questions one might have during both processes.
If you're selling your home, also make sure to ask about marketing, the process, what costs to expect, and other things. Those aren't pertinent to a buyer, but would be to a seller.
So if you're in the market to buy a home, Contact Me Today! I can help you get set up with mortgage and insurance people to make sure you're able to buy a home and have the best coverage.
You can also get a copy of my Home Buyers Handbook when buying to learn about the process!