Questions Buyers Should Ask When Choosing a REALTOR®

It is important to remember you are HIRING a Realtor who will be representing you, negotiating for you, and will be giving you the information you need to make a good buying decision.

1. How long have you been in residential real estate sales?  While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate, like many other professions, is mostly learned on the job.

2. Is it your full-time job?  You want to make sure your Agent is available to show you homes and be able to do the paperwork and negotiate for you without delays when you are ready to purchase.

3.  What designations do you hold?  Designations, such as GRI, ABR, and CRS®, which require that real estate professionals take additional, specialized real estate training, are held by only about one quarter of real estate practitioners. 

4.  Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction?  While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it’s important to understand where the practitioner’s obligations lie. A good practitioner will explain the agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party. It’s also possible to insist that the practitioner represent you exclusively.

5.  Can you recommend service providers who can assist me in obtaining a mortgage, making repairs on my home, and other things I need done?  Keep in mind here that real estate professionals should generally recommend more than one provider and should tell you if they receive any compensation from any provider.

6.  What’s your business philosophy?  While there’s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what’s important to the real estate practitioner—fast sales, service, etc.—and determine how closely the practitioner’s goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.

7. How will you keep me informed about the new properties and then the progress of my transaction? How frequently? Using what media? Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but that one reflects your desires. Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a personal visit?

8. How can I contact you?  Not all REALTORS® are created equally.  Not everybody will use texting, or phones, or computers.  Some may have other jobs and are only available during certain times of the day.  If you work nights – can you call in the early mornings? Or in the early evenings before work?  Make sure you can communicate the way you want to and when you want to.

9. Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of three clients?   Just like when you interviewed for your position and gave references, you have a right to references from your REALTOR®

10.Can we look at a couple of houses before I sign a Buyer’s Contract?  You will get a good feel of whether or not you want to work with an agent when you look at a couple of houses.  Once you sign a buyer’s contract you are locked in with that agent and brokerage.  Buyer’s contracts can be cancelled if you are unhappy, but it can be a hassle and some agents will charge you a fee to do so.  Even after you sign a buyer’s contract you can choose to work with another agent after your current contract is expired.     

It is important that you work with someone you trust.  Buying a home is the largest purchase you are likely to make.  You need to have someone in your corner who will stand with you throughout the process and help you to make decisions that are good for you.  You may want to contact your agent after the deal is completed and you are moved in – it is so much easier to call someone you like and get along with rather than someone you don’t ever want to see again. 

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Sherri L. Underthun
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