Part of buying or selling a home is doing your due diligence, and that extends to choosing a real estate agent. That person will be marketing your home, pre-screening available listings, and guiding you through every step of the process, so you should absolutely ask questions before putting your future in his or her hands.
What should you ask? Austin Portfolio Real Estate has this handy list of 10 questions, with helpful answers supplied by its agents, to make finding your new buying or selling partner easy — or at least easier than picking the right paint color.
1. How long have you been in the real estate business?
Francie Little: Real estate agents mostly learn on the job, so the more sales an agent has completed, the more he or she knows. Sellers should look for agents with enough sales under their belts to comfortably handle deals from listing to closing. Education is also very important, so look for an agent who seeks to further their skills and knowledge by acquiring designations and certifications.
2. What will you bring to the table to help me buy or sell a home?
Martha Small: I believe in navigating buyers and sellers through the real estate experience. No two transactions are the same, and I learn something new from each one. Years of experience can help a client get the best possible outcome from purchasing or selling a home.
3. My house has already been on the market and didn’t sell — what will you do differently?
Ronda Prothro: There’s more to selling a house than simply putting up a sign and listing it on MLS. In addition to determining the right price, the home's overall appearance is critical. Professional staging, high-quality images, and polished marketing materials are often overlooked but can make a difference in whether or not a home sells. It’s also important for your Realtor to have relationships and networking opportunities with other real estate professionals.
4. Is your marketing global?
Kathleen Bucher: Austin Portfolio Real Estate is part of the largest worldwide company, Keller Williams Realty, so we can personally pick up the phone and call all the Keller Williams Realty International agents worldwide to market our properties.
5. What makes you an expert on this city, and how long have you been a Realtor here?
Shannon Schmitz: This two-part question is very important. First, you only want to deal with an experienced Realtor who has 10-plus years of experience, because a seasoned agent will have the knowledge and understanding of the market to negotiate strongly on your behalf and anticipate issues during the sales process before they arise. You want an agent working for you who has "seen it all before," so you don’t wind up with problems that could have been avoided. The second part is making sure your agent knows their city like the back of their hand. People aren’t just looking for a house to buy — a great agent can properly match a client with the neighborhood and surrounding community that complements their lifestyle, which leads to quickly helping the new house become their home.
6. If you work for a luxury brokerage, do you still represent properties in my price range?
Carla Umlauf: I work with all level of buyers and sellers and provide the same level of service regardless of price range or area of town. I often sell homes that I can't afford myself! Working at luxury firm means that your Realtor has done well in the profession, and why wouldn't you want to work with one of the best Realtors in the industry?
7. Will I be working directly with you, or will you hand me off to someone on your team?
Susan Avant: Your are hiring the agent and should expect to have a relationship with that agent. If you will also be communicating with someone else, your agent should tell you that — and who it is — from the beginning.
8. What percentage of your listings were taken off the market in the last 6 months?
Marielle Quaid: Properties are withdrawn for a number of reasons, but often agents will simply agree to a seller's higher price in an effort to win the listing. Too many sellers waste valuable time chasing the market after pricing their property too high. It is important to have an agent who understands the market, believes in their ability to sell your property for its highest value, and communicates that message accurately to the seller.
9. How will you create opportunities for my property?
Jeannette Spinelli: Ask your agent if they are personally proactive in their outreach, or if their assistant does the heavy lifting. Is the agent willing to communicate to you regularly and give you the personal attention you need? These basic expectations should not only be met, but exceeded.
10. How do you feel your Realtor experience has prepared you for Austin's housing boom?
David Haynes: Austin is really still a small town with a big reputation. A knowledge of home pricing, inventory, and neighborhoods, and the effect these have on price and value, is crucial to an agent's ability to serve his or her clients.