Today, I want to share why I think you should interview real estate agents before hiring one.
Why You Should Interview Real Estate Agents
Truth be told, I have only purchased one house and I’m in the process of selling it. My husband and I thought long and hard about whether we would try to sell our property on our own or hire someone to represent us. In the end, we chose the latter.
If you have ever shared with friends or family that you’re looking for a home or thinking of selling your own, most everyone says something along the lines of, “Oh! I know a realtor I can recommend!” Many of you may know a real estate agent personally as well.
I still think it makes sense to interview any prospective agents because they are being paid by you. When you hire someone to do work on your home, you get estimates and gather information about how and when the work will be done. When you are looking for babysitters, you meet them and see how they’ll interact with your child. When you’re an employer, you interview any potential employees.
Don’t Take The Easy Route with Previous Agents and Friends
Just because a friend is a realtor, doesn’t mean they’ll be the best real estate agent for you. Just because a friend recommends their realtor to you, doesn’t mean you have to hire him/her. It’s business and nobody should take it personally.
Interviewing real estate agents just makes sense.
Oftentimes, people don’t.
Why not just use the realtor that sold you the house you’re currently in? Well, you can. But do you know how that realtor handles business when they are the listing agent versus the buyer’s agent? Do you know if they’ll want to pursue the option to be a dual agent (and double their commission)? Why not interview them while interviewing others? It won’t hurt.
We did not choose to hire the agent that sold us our home because we never saw her after our transaction. I don’t mean that we expected to hang out or anything. I mean…we never saw her face or name appear on any signs in our area. To me, this meant she wouldn’t have known this area too well anyway, so how could she sell someone on it?
We also recommended her to a friend when they were interested in looking around the area and she was weak with her follow-through. When we purchased through her, she was actually a dual agent, representing the builder and us. At the time, we just wanted to purchase the house and didn’t think about having an agent that represented our interests in the transaction.
Stay Focused on What You Need
When you are purchasing or selling a home, you want someone to represent your interests. Hiring a real estate agent can do that. But you want to make sure you sign a contract with someone you feel comfortable with, you trust, you can contact at any time, and you like their communication style. You also want someone that is good at their job.
Sounds like a marriage in some ways, doesn’t it? Well…it sort of is. You are going to share things with this person and expect them not to share the information with the buyer or buyer’s agent. This is one of the main reasons I did not want to hire someone as a dual agent…Walking that line can be hard for people and I wanted someone to earn their money by representing me and selling my house.
It is always important to ask, “Is ‘Your’ Agent Working For You?”
There Needs to be Trust in Every Relationship
Trust is a big part of this. Not only do you trust them with your specific situation, timeline, financial picture, and access to your home, but you also have to trust their advice as the professional in the field. If you don’t trust their input on the market and where things stand with your property or the timeline it may take to sell your house, you are going to want to anull this relationship rather quickly.
This brings me to another point. I interviewed five realtors before selecting one. We had feedback about our house that spanned all the way from, “you’re house isn’t worth more than X and I suggest you rent it for a year and try again after that” to “I would list your house at Y right now.” There was a difference of $50,000 between X and Y and we didn’t trust either one of those responses. Don’t go with the first person you speak to! Play the field a bit. (Now it sounds like dating before marriage!)
Someone who suggests that your house might benefit from a pre-market appraisal is likely suggesting your house is worth more than what comparibles are showing. We were told by 3 out of 5 of those realtors that we should do a pre-market appraisal. (We followed their advice.)
Someone that is good at their job (which can be seen in numbers like houses sold in the past year, average days on market, list price vs. sell price) should give you a clear picture of what your house can sell for and how they can negotiate for the best-case scenario on your behalf.
Communication is Key
The way someone communicates with you can give you a glimpse as to how well they will communicate and negotiate on your behalf. Are they sweating and nervous? Are they condescending? Are they strong, but respectful? Do they sound confident in themselves and the subject matter.
How they prefer to communicate will be quite significant when you’re juggling showings, feedback, responses to potential buyers, and just questions like, “Why isn’t my house showing?!?” “The house next to me just went on the market!!! What should we do now?!?” You will want answers, so you’ll want to know if they like email, phone calls, texts, or Facebook messages the best. Don’t put yourself in the situation where you want to go bang on their office door. Ask before you sign on the line!
Skip The Hunt
If you are having to track down a realtor to interview them…You may not want to hire them. If they aren’t responding to you now, why do you think they’ll reply in a timely manner later? They should be wanting your business. If they don’t, great for them! But, don’t waste your time.
I contacted an acquaintance that we had really thought we would hire whenever we moved. I hesitated to contact her because we witnessed how long it took for our mutual friend’s house to sell. But I did anyway. I got an initial reply and then nothing. I didn’t bother to follow-up. It’s not my job and she didn’t need my business. Plain and simple.
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