As you try to figure out if a Realtor is the right fit for you, here are some questions you may want to ask that will help you figure out if it is a good match:
1. What services does your firm provide?
Some firms offer a full range of services (such as those described in The Top 10 Reasons You Should Start Your Home Search By Hiring a Realtor) including finding off market deals, tracking deadlines for you, and helping you find a network of professionals (including lawyers, lenders, and inspectors) who can help you get to the finish line.
Other firms offer limited service and basically see their job as showing you a property you send to them and writing up the contract.
If you are looking for a full service firm, you may want to ask if the firm employs an administrator or Closing Coordinator who can help keep track of deadlines.
As Realtors get busy, these things can easily get dropped if isn’t someone’s explicit job to handle this part of the process.
At our firm, we are lucky to have a several person administrative team that focus on make sure no detail is missed.
2. How long have you been in real estate?
There isn’t a right answer to this question.
You might decide that an agent with many years of experience is the best for you or feel that a brand new agent will give you the time and attention you are looking for.
However, making sure you at least understand who you are talking to and their level of experience is important.
3. Do you work in real estate full-time?
Some agents in this area work full-time jobs in other areas and pursue real estate on the side.
The reverse is also true.
Some Realtors are full-time realtors but also have a side gig (we are in an industry with no benefits so this can be a necessity in some cases).
If your agent does this in a very part-time way, ask how many transactions they do a year just so you can understand their experience level and familiarity with the current inventory.
You will want to make sure that they at least check what listings come onto the market every day and spend enough time on showings to at least stay on top of the market.
If your agent also has another side gig, it may be helpful to get a sense of any scheduling constraints to make sure it does not conflict with the times you are available to see property.
4. How many clients do you work with at any given time?
If you are their only client, they may not have the experience level you are looking for (though perhaps you value exclusive access to their time).
On the other hand, a Realtor handling 20+ clients at once may not have enough time to make you the priority.
If they are that busy, make sure they have a team that can adequately support them so you don’t get forgotten.
5. What areas are your focus?
We all have different towns we know best from our professional and personal history.
You should know what areas your agent is most familiar with.
I know that I serve my clients better when I understand the ins and outs of the places they are looking.
6. What are your strengths as a Realtor?
Realtors take pride in a different parts of their work.
For me, I take pride in being responsive, data-driven, a good negotiator and advocate, and someone that likes to really get to know my clients so that I can serve them in the way that will be most useful to their goals.
If your Realtor tells you that they really excel working with the complexities of finding waterfront property on Lake Champlain and that has nothing to do with your search for a condo in Williston, you might realize the match isn’t there.
7. How do you collaborate or get advice from others at your firm?
We all have things we can learn for others, and even for those of us who have been doing this for a while, we are always encountering new situations and new things to learn.
It is important to have a trusted network of support.
I work in an incredibly collaborative office where we benefit from each other’s experiences and expertise.
Ultimately, this means we serve our clients better than at offices (of which there are many) where agents work entirely from home with limited support and guidance.
8. Will you be showing me homes or will another member of your team?
Again, no right answer, but if someone else is going to be the one meeting you out at properties, don’t you want to know who that is before committing?
9. What happens if I want to see a home when you are on vacation?
What if your dream home comes onto the market while your Realtor is on vacation?
Don’t let that be the reason you lose out. Make sure the agent you are working with has a plan to deal with that kind of situation.
Our office is big enough (and again, we are very collaborative) so that we can almost always send another agent to step in when these circumstances arise.
10. Do you show homes on evenings or weekends?
If you work during normal office hours and can only see properties on evenings or weekends, make sure your schedule is compatible with your Realtor’s.
11. Do you attend the home inspection?
At our firm, we typically attend home inspections. We just feel it is important to know what is wrong if we want to negotiation.
Sure, we can read the report after and get some info, but being there in-person and having the opportunity to ask questions can allow us to serve our clients better by fully understanding what are sometimes pretty complex and technical issues.
This is not something that every firm does so make sure you ask what the policy is upfront!
12. Do you attend the final walk through?
As an agent, I feel it is my responsibility to attend the walk through and make sure that any work that was supposed to be completed before closing has been done and that nothing substantial has changed since showing the house originally.
At some firms, it is company policy to just send someone to open the door and make you do the work so make sure you ask and have a clear expectation.
13. Do you attend the closing?
Most of the time, closings are handled by the attorneys and run smoothly.
Occasionally, however, issues come up, and you may want your Realtor there with you in case something needs to be resolved at the last minute.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pallas Ziporyn is a Realtor based in Burlington, VT. She is the founder and head writer for The Vermont Real Estate Blog, and she works with both buyers and sellers in Chittenden County and surrounding areas.
In addition to her real estate pursuits, Pallas enjoys serving on the Winooski Planning Commission, skiing, writing, and spending time with her husband Chris and their two small children, Leander and Hugo.