Not all real estate agents are the same.  If you decide to seek
the help of an agent when selling or buying your home, you need
some good information before you make any moves.
Picking an agent is one of those critical issues that can cost or
save you thousands of dollars.  There are very specific questions
you should be asking to ensure that you get the best
representation for your needs.  Some agents may prefer that you
don’t ask these questions, because the knowledge you’ll gain from
their honest answers will give you a very good idea about what
outcome you can expect from using this agent.  And let’s face
it - in real estate, as in life - not all things are created
Hiring a real estate agent is just like any hiring process - with
you on the boss’s side of the desk.  It’s critical that you make
the right decision about who will handle what is probably the
single largest financial investment you will ever make.
1. What makes you different?  Why should I list my home with you?
It’s a much tougher real estate market than it was a decade ago.
What unique marketing plans and programs does this agent have in
place to make sure that your home stands out favorably versus
other competing homes? What things does this agent offer you that
others don’t to help you sell your home in the least amount of
time with the least amount of hassle and for the most amount of
2. What is your company’s track record and reputation in the
market place?
It may seem like everywhere you look, real estate agents are
boasting about being #1 for this or that, or quoting you the
number of homes they’ve sold.  If you’re like many homeowners,
you’ve probably become immune to much of this information.  After
all, you ask, "Why should I care about how many homes one agent
sold over another.  The only thing I care about is whether they
can sell my home quickly for the most amount of money."
Well, because you want your home sold fast and for top dollar,
you should be asking the agents you interview how many homes they
have sold.  I’m sure you will agree that success in real estate
is selling homes.  If one agent is selling a lot of homes while
another is selling only a handful, ask yourself why this might
be?  What things are these two agents doing differently?
You may be surprised to know that many agents sell fewer than 10
homes a year.  This volume makes it difficult for them to do full
impact marketing on your home, because they can’t raise the money
it takes to afford the advertising and special programs to give
your home a high profile. Also, at this low level, they probably
can’t afford to hire an assistant, which means that they’re
running around trying to do all the components of the job
themselves, which means service may suffer.
3. What are your marketing plans for my home?
How much money does this agent spend in advertising the homes
s/he lists versus the other agents you are interviewing? In what
media (newspaper, magazine, TV etc.) does this agent advertise?
What does s/he know about the effectiveness of one medium over
the other?
4. What has your company sold in my area?
Agents should bring you a complete listing of both their own, and
other comparable sales in your area.
5. Does your Broker control your advertising or do you?
If your agent is not in control of their own advertising, then
your home will be competing for advertising space not only with
this agent’s other listings, but also with the listings of every
other agent in the brokerage.
6. On average, when your listings sell, how close is the selling
price to the asking price?
This information is available from the Real Estate Board.  Is
this agent’s performance higher or lower than the board average?
Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how
high a price you will get for the sale of your home.
7. On average, how long does it take for your listings to sell?
This information is also available from the Real Estate Board.
Does this agent tend to sell faster or slower than the board
average? Their performance on this measurement will help you
predict how long your home will be on the market before it sells.
8. How many Buyers are you currently working with?
Obviously, the more buyers your agent is working with, the better
your chances are of selling your home quickly.  It will also
impact price because an agent with many buyers can set up an
auction-like atmosphere where many buyers bid on your home at the
same time.  Ask them to describe the system they have for
attracting buyers.
9. Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact?
Ask to see this list, and then proceed to spot check some of the
10. What happens if I’m not happy with the job you are doing to
get my home sold? Can I cancel my listing contract?
Be wary of agents that lock you into a lengthy listing contract
which they can get out of (by ceasing to effectively market your
home) but you can’t. There are usually penalties and broker
protection periods which safeguard the agent’s interests, but not
yours. How confident is your agent in the service s/he will
provide you? Will s/he allow you to cancel your contract without
penalty if you’re not satisfied with the
service provided?
Evaluate each agent’s responses to these 10 questions carefully
and objectively. Who will do the best job for you? These
questions will help you decide.