Five Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent
Working with a trusted real estate agent is a key part of the home buying process. A good realtor can help you find the home of your dreams at a price you can afford. There are five basic questions you should ask a prospective real estate agent before you start to shop for a home.
1. How long have you been licensed as an agent?
Check that the real estate agent currently has a license in good standing and ask him about his professional experience. Look for a real estate agent who has been in the business for at least five years. Ask him about his work schedule and how he wants to be contacted. Ideally, your agent is a full-time realtor who is easily accessible by email, cell phone, and in person.
2. How many homes did you sell last year and for what average price?
Ask your agent about her recent experience helping people in your area buy and sell homes. See if she will provide you with the contact information of former customers as references. If you are working with a realtor to sell a home, you should also ask about the average amount of time between the listing and sale of her previous properties.
3. How many buyers and sellers are you currently working with?
Look for an agent that works with a few clients at a time, but not so many that he won’t have enough time for you. Ask if the realtor will be acting as a dual agent and representing both the borrower and the seller. If the agent will be representing you exclusively, ask whether he expects you to pay the commission instead of the seller.
4. What are your fee and commission structures?
Most real estate agents work purely on commissions from the sale. When a homeowner sells a home, they pay a real estate agent a commission and closing fee. This listing agent’s commission is usually about 6% of the sale price. The listing agent then shares her commission with the buyer’s agent. For helping you buy a home, your agent will receive about 3-4% of the sale price. Some agents offer discounted commissions, rebates, or flat-fees for their services. Cheaper may not be better: a discounted real estate agent may not work as hard to help you find the best home..
5. How can you help me afford the home I want?
Your agent should be knowledgeable about the financing process and mortgage loan options available to you. You should ask him about tax and insurance policies that may impact your purchase. Also ask about the agent’s experience making tough negotiations. Is your agent going to work hard to get you the best price on a home?
You can shop and compare real estate agents in your area online with no obligation. Don’t be afraid to ask an agent hard-hitting questions about her services. A good agent will understand your concerns and will help you find the best deal.