Top five questions to ask a potential real estate agent


In today’s red-hot market, you need a real estate agent who can get creative, play hardball in negotiations, and help you stand out from the pack in a bidding war.

And not everyone — even an agent recommended to you by a friend or loved one — is up to the task.

Want to make sure you’re getting the best real estate agent possible for your home purchase? Then interview at least a few before signing on with one — and be sure to ask these five all-important questions when you do.

1. How many other clients are you representing right now?

In today’s high-demand market, this question is critical. You need to know: 1) how many of your potential competitors your agent is representing and 2) how much time and bandwidth they actually have for you and your needs. Choosing a real estate agent who already has 10 buyers and five sellers probably doesn’t bode well for your home search.

2. How much is your commission, and who pays it?

The typical commission is 6 to 7%, split between the buyer’s and the seller’s agents. But in some cases, these splits may be different, so make sure you know how much your agent’s fee is — as well as where it comes from. In some areas, there are actually discount agents who offer their services for a reduced fee (though usually with a little less hand-holding to make up for it).

3. Do I have to sign a contract and, if so, how is it structured?

You should also find out what the agent’s contract looks like. If you use them and are unhappy with their services, can you switch agents? How long are you locked into their services? In today’s market, this is critical. You don’t want to miss out on record-low mortgage rates just because your real estate agent is not doing the legwork.

4. What’s your communication style?

You need an agent who jives with your own communication style. If you prefer text or email and your agent is more of a phone or face-to-face kind of person, you’re probably going to find yourself pretty annoyed down the road (and your agent might feel the same). Before getting too far with an agent, always talk about their preferred style of communication, as well as yours. Make sure you’re both on the same page from the start.

5. Do you have any references I can contact?

If you think a real estate agent might be a good fit, always ask for a reference or two first before signing on that dotted line. Ask for their name and email, shoot them a message, and see what their experience was like. Would they work with the agent again? A yes or no can tell you everything you need to know.

Choose real estate agents wisely

In today’s market, the right agent can mean the difference between finding a home and sitting on the sidelines, so choose carefully. Do your research, ask questions, and check reviews and references. Putting in the time now will more than pay off in the long run.

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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