What does a real estate agent actually do?
First, let’s review what a real estate agent brings to the table. After all, in today’s information age, a new home might feel like it’s just a click away and easily accessible without the help of an agent.
However, real estate agents are essential advocates . They will be experts in your existing or target neighborhood, help you find the perfect home, suggest light-lift upgrades to maximize value, and provide information you can’t find anywhere else thanks to resources, like the MLS database, they have behind the scenes.
They will also walk you through the transaction process, supporting you as you complete your offer and making sure your contract includes all the right clauses to protect you. Without an agent, you may be faced with doing all the paperwork and legwork yourself, which could cost you money or otherwise create unnecessary obstacles.
Questions to ask a real estate agent before hiring
- How many homes do you help buyers purchase each year?
Real estate agents represent an average of 12 buyers or sellers per year, according to NAR. If your agent is batting way below that, it could be a red flag.
- Do you work full time or part time as an agent?
Full-time agents are more likely to be able to devote more time to working for you than someone who is pursuing real estate on the side. “The first question I would recommend asking is, ‘Are you a full-time agent or are you a part-time agent?’” says Phoenix-based agent Andrew Monaghan.
- Do you work with both buyers and sellers?
Many agents work as either buyer specialists or seller specialists. While it’s great to find someone who specializes, an agent who does both could offer some great insights on either side of the process.
- Do you have references I can call?
If you hired a new employee, you would probably call their references, right? Be sure you’re vetting your new agent with the same rigor you would any professional working for you. If they can’t offer you a list of satisfied clients, be careful.
- Have you helped buyers find homes in these areas?
Your real estate agent should be knowledgeable about the area you’re looking at. Communities differ in terms of what types of homes buyers want, what types of homes sell, and so on. Make sure your agent knows the area where you want to buy.
- How do you help buyers compete in this market?
If you’re looking to buy in a competitive market, breaking through the competition is essential. Ask your prospective agent how they’re going to help you stand out in a potential sea of offers.
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or selling your second or third house, hiring the right agent is crucial. An agent can make sure you find your perfect home or get the best value for your existing home — and that you are protected every step of the way. But it’s essential you feel comfortable and fully trust them with this important investment. These questions will help you do that and make the process easy and successful.