Selling Kamloops Real EstateHome Seller's Guide > Getting Ready > 26 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent




Your personal real estate investment is likely one of the largest investments you'll ever make. Therefore it is important to choose a real estate expert when buying or selling who'll work to your benefit to protect your home's equity and your future.

When you're choosing a lawyer, doctor or other health care practitioner, you'd interview several people before you select an individual you're most comfortable working with. The same rule applies to REALTORs®. This detailed list will help you avoid making a mistake by providing you with some selection criteria. You'll save yourself time, money and aggravation.

To begin your search, you might want to chat with friends and neighbours. Often satisfied customers are usually a reliable source. From the list of names you acquire, you may want to conduct some preliminary investigation and then sit down for an interview. We recommend you go through this list of 26 critical questions before you sign on the dotted line! Be sure you're completely satisfied with the answers to the following questions.

Question 1: "Do you or your brokerage have any marketing materials I can review?"

Everyone has an image that's portrayed in their personal marketing materials including brochures, direct mail, listing presentation books, etc. Call all the names on your list and ask these individuals to send you information prior to your meeting. When you receive this information, you'll get an impression about the person. Do these items look professional? If not, you may find yourself asking the question, "If they're not even marketing themselves professionally, how will they market my home?"

Also, keep track of this person's communication with you. Do they respond to your request for information, in a quickly and helpful, friendly manner? Do they treat you with dignity and respect? What is your impression of this person? Do they appear pushy and overbearing? Are you comfortable with them? Trust your feelings. If this person handles your requests in a less than professional manner, it's likely they'll also handle potential buyers for your home the same way. You could lose a sale and even worse—the best price for your home.

If you feel comfortable with this initial communication, invite the real estate agent to make a listing presentation to you. You may want to meet with three or four real estate professionals from different companies before you make your final decision.

Question 2: "Are you a full-time or part-time real estate professional? How long have you been working in my area?"

Ideally, the real estate professional should be working full-time, with at least 3 to 5 years experience under their belt, preferably in your Kamloops neighbourhood. A part-time real estate professional may not be able to keep up with the pace or complexity of today's rapidly-changing marketplace. They may not be available when you need them most. When you select an experienced real estate agent, you'll be getting a track record, a roster of contacts for any services you need, and a host of creative, time-tested ideas for marketing your home.

Question 3: "How many homes have you listed in these past six months and the past year?"

A real estate professional's record of longevity is important. Even more important is the quality and success rate during this time, as reflected by a large number of listings. At the same time, however, a real estate professional must have the resources and systems in place to market each of these homes successfully.

Question 4: "How many homes have you sold in these past six months, and the past year?"

A real estate professional may have demonstrated his/her ability to list homes. However, the real test is in the finding, negotiating and closing of deals—that is, selling homes.

Question 5: "How long do your listings typically remain on the market?"

Some people assume that a shorter time on the housing market works to their advantage. However, this may not be in their best interests. Keep in mind, if the average time on the market is shorter than the average for the neighbourhood in question, ask why. Is the real estate professional really effective, or is he or she low-balling the asking price to sell the home more quickly than the rest?

Carefully examine the original asking price and compare it with the selling price. This gap will tell you how effective the real estate professional is at establishing and obtaining the right asking price for a home.

Question 6: "What professional memberships do you hold?"

The bare minimum should be a fully-licensed professional who is a member of the local Kamloops real estate board and MLS® (Multiple Listing Service®). While other affiliations are beneficial, the main focus should be the selling of homes.

Question 7: "Do you have support staff working for you?"

Depending on the nature of his or her business, some real estate professionals hire additional support staff. While this may not be an indicator of better service, it does suggest that a real estate professional treats his efforts as a business. When an assistant handles the details, the real estate professional is free to spend more time serving your specific needs. At the same time, however, you don't want to end up feeling like you're just passed off to someone else. You should be kept informed of exactly what the real estate professional is doing to get your home sold.

Question 8: "Do you have any questions for me?"

A real estate professional who is effectively working for you should ask pointed, specific questions about your home and situation. They should not simply fill in the blanks on a form. By asking about your needs, an agent can create a plan of action specifically for you, rather than using a cookie-cutter approach to all their clients.

Question 9: "How will you market my home for my best advantage?"

Real estate professionals have many tools in their kit, which includes the MLS® System, staging open houses, advertising, flyers, Internet, virtual tours, welcome brochures, for sale signs, and personal networking. A real estate agent shouldn't use the same plan for each client. What worked for yesterday's home seller may not get you the results you want. A real estate professional should understand the effectiveness of each of these items as they relate to your personal needs.

Question 10: "Will you create a professional looking listing and how will it sell my home?"

A real estate professional should create a piece that makes the most of quality, design and words, so that your home's best features are presented. It should give the potential homebuyer all the information they need at a quick glance.

Question 11: "Can you explain your position on open houses? Will they be public, broker-only or by-appointment? How will this help sell my home?"

Selling your Kamloops home for the best price involves more than placing a sign on the lawn and having an open house every Sunday afternoon. If too many open houses are held, a home could be perceived as a loser, making it ripe for low-ball bidders. Be sure that your real estate professional has a reason for an open house plan of action.

Question 12: "How do you plan to advertise my home?"

Ask to see the plan for your home, including ad listings, which should incorporate the latest technology, combined with more traditional vehicles of newspaper and magazine advertising.

Question 13: "How will other real estate professionals be advised of my home?"

While a real estate professional uses the MLS®, he or she should have a network in place to present your home to additional real estate professionals. Exposure is the key to any home sale. Often, another real estate agent's client is looking for a home just like yours.

Question 14: "How will you help me stage my home?"

To make the most of your home, you'll want to present your home in the best possible light for potential buyers. Your real estate professional shouldn't be afraid to tell you about the positive areas of your home, while suggesting improvements for the negative aspects. If he or she doesn't mention the subject, it's likely he does not have this in his toolbox. You should expect a confident and competent real estate professional to provide you with workable ideas to make your home more salable.

Question 15: "How will you keep me informed?"

Be sure to tell your real estate professional how you'd like to receive regular communication, whether weekly or daily, via email, IM or phone. Or would you rather meet in person? Since you're dealing with one of the most important investments of your life, you deserve all the time and attention you need and want.

Question 16: "How did you arrive at the listing price?"

The right or wrong listing price affects the length of time your home stays on the Kamloops market and ultimately, your net profits. If a real estate professional suggests too high a price, your home could languish on the market. At the same time, do not settle for a low price, to sell too quickly. Your agent should be able to justify the price with a comparison to other properties and the market.

Question 17: "What if I need other resources?"

Your real estate professional should have a network of other professionals in place to assist you with other tasks you'll need to undertake, including mortgages, home inspection, home improvement and renovations, carpet cleaning, etc. While you're not obligated to enlist the services of any of these, it's likely your real estate professional has established a relationship with these people that's reflected in the referral.

Question 18: "Can you give me some references?"

A real estate professional should be happy to provide you with several names of satisfied clients. Be wary if they get defensive when you ask them this question. If they can't supply references, then choose another agent. Many sellers don't check references, but you should. This is one of the easiest and most important steps you can take. Talking to past clients is a good way of learning how a real estate professional operates beyond what he says he's going to do. Here are some questions to ask your agent's past clients: 

  • How long was your home on the market for?
  • Do you feel the agent priced it realistically?
  • What was it originally listed at? What was the selling price?
  • What type of marketing did the agent do?
  • Did the agent suggest how to make your home more marketable?
  • Did the agent keep his promises? Did he do what he said he would do?
  • Were you kept informed along the way? How often did you talk?
  • How many offers did you get?
  • During the closing process, did the agent provide good customer service?
  • What did you like most about the agent?
  • Was there anything about the agent that you didn't like?
  • Would you work with this real estate agent again? 

Question 19: "What does the listing agreement entail?"

This is a very important step. Before you sign, be sure you understand every detail of the contract. This is a legally binding document, which places responsibilities on both the real estate professional and you, the home seller.

Question 20: "When does the listing agreement begin and end?"

Details and dates are very important. In a potential dispute, these items could determine commission payments. Generally speaking, three months is sufficient for a listing agreement. Be wary of a real estate professional wanting a longer period without a valid reason.

Question 21: "What are your commission fees?"

These fees are negotiable. You should also weigh the merits of each real estate professional's fee versus the benefits he or she provides. Be wary of a real estate professional who is willing to reduce their commission, up front. Perhaps he or she does not intend to spend the time, effort or money to sell your home.

Question 22: "Do I need to consider any other fees or charges?"

Additional fees could be title insurance, closing costs, pro-rated insurance, taxes, rent, inspections, levies, etc. Be sure that your real estate professional explains any of these costs that could affect your bottom line.

Question 23: "Do any disclosure laws or zoning restrictions apply to my home?"

A real estate professional should be familiar with any provincial or civic laws and restrictions that apply to your Kamloops home and neighbourhood. They should also have the necessary disclosure forms required when selling or buying a property.

Question 24: "How do you qualify potential buyers?"

Your real estate professional should be proficient in determining whether a potential buyer actually has the desire, means and resources to purchase your home. This way, you won't be spending your valuable time with dead-end offers or deals that can't be closed.

Question 25: "What if my home doesn't sell in the specified time? What if I change my mind about selling my home?"

These items should be clarified in the listing agreement. A listing contract may also contain a "liquidated damages" clause, meaning that you could be liable for a dollar amount, should you take your home off the market before the listing expires.

Question 26: "Am I comfortable with this real estate professional?"

You should ask yourself this very important question. Are you comfortable with his or her personality and how the agent conducts business? When it comes to your investment, don't settle for anything other than honesty, respect and integrity. If you don't like this person, choose another real estate professional. The last thing you want is a personality clash when you're trying to sell your home and maximize your equity. Your real estate professional should look after your interests, not just theirs!

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