Home buying (or selling) can prove a challenging process, particularly for first-time buyers or those who've been away from the real estate market.
The experience, however, is made easier if you partner with the right real estate agent. A top real estate professional will understand your homeownership needs and bring you homes that match your wishlist. They'll also prove to be great communicators, with the most attentive agents ensuring yours is a smooth transition.
Finding the best agent starts with identifying those who excel in the neighborhoods and housing you're seeking. The final step is the interview process—meeting face to face with your top agents and quizzing them on what makes them the best choice for you.
But what should you ask?
Let's review the five top questions to ask before hiring a real estate agent, along with five follow-ups to better understand who will be the right agent for you.
How long have you been a real estate agent?
Experience is critical in the real estate industry, and you'll want an agent who knows their way around the business. You want someone who’s knowledgeable not just when it comes to the neighborhoods you're interested in but also someone who’s adept at negotiations, who has built a sizable roster of third-party contacts, and who has a satisfied list of clients.
If it's not apparent from the initial answer, follow-up and ask the agent if real estate is a full or part-time job for them. Many agents work part-time or might be spread too thin to meet your needs. It's essential to clarify their exact commitment and availability to your home search. A full-time agent might have more experience and a more professional approach.
Am I working with you directly or a larger team?
Speaking of teams, it's a good idea to delve deeper into how your agent operates—do they fly solo or take the team approach to real estate? While a solo agent-buyer relationship might seem ideal, the best agents are in demand and may not always be available when you need them.
Consider if an opportunity arises to see a sought-after home or last-minute paperwork needs coordination. In those cases, you might find the team concept highly agreeable.
This is also an excellent moment to discuss their methods of communication. From email to phone calls to texts, ask how often you'll hear from them and if it's through a single contact or if multiple team members might reach out to you. Make your preferences known, too.
What is your specialty?
Certainly, you'll want to inquire if an agent focuses on the neighborhoods and type of housing you're looking for. However, niche skills and dedicated client needs matter just as much.
Whether you're moving from out of town (relocation specialist), buying a second or third home (vacation home specialist), or want a particular lifestyle (master-planned or active-adult community specialist), an agent with specialized focus will make the process far more accommodating.
In addition, price point is important. If your interest level is $2 million+ homes, you might want to steer clear of agents that deal in homes less than $500,000. Conversely, if your interest lies at the lower price point, it makes little sense to seek help from an agent selling only multi-million dollar estates. Make sure to ask for a list of past transactions to see if the agent has experience in your sweet spot.
How many homes have you helped buyers close on in the previous year?
A real estate agent's success largely rests on how many homes they help their clients purchase or sell) A busy agent isn't busy by accident—it signals a professional who's in demand that regularly delivers for their clients.
But you also want an agent who isn't too busy for you. This is a moment to follow up about their current roster of clients. Also, discovering if an agent works more with buyers or sellers (or equally with both) will further pin down where their expertise and value to you lies.
What sets you apart from other agents?
It's a pointed question, sure, and one that helps define what an agent stands for, their approach to real estate, and how they believe they can best serve you. Additional inquiries include how they'll handle negotiations, if they or someone else from their team attends inspections, and how they might resolve problems should they arise.
This discussion point is the perfect time to ask for references and past clients you can contact for their feedback.
Whether you're interested in Dublin homes for sale or seeking more information on San Ramon real estate, contact Sarina Dhanoa & Associates today. Allow our expertise and years of experience to be your guide to the best of the East Bay.