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How To Screen Property Agents Before Hiring – 10 Questions
Property agents are spending so much of their earnings on marketing themselves these days. So much so, that nobody can fault you if you start to wondering if you can recognize more agents than your friends. Because make no mistake about it. The real estate sales profession has strength in numbers. And in all likelihood, you will already have a couple of friends who are in the trade within your social circle. If not, you can easily get referrals from anyone you know or just scan through the local real estate listings directory. But how do you know you have hired a tiger or an impala to represent you?
While big time salesmen market themselves openly with serene self-portraits, there will always be a group who have made it a point to market themselves via their social networks that resemble multi-level marketing. Although I am nobody to tell you who to deal with or who not to deal with, I still suggest that you think twice before appointing someone you know as your agent. Because on the contrary to what many think, people you know have a higher tendency to become complacent. This can either be the result of a lesser effort from the agent, or from a higher expectation from you.
It can also be awkward to have a “business talk” with someone who you are close to. And at the end of your “serious” conversations, you still walk away wondering if you have been taken seriously on your thoughts and concerns. In additional to that, you need to work with someone with whom you are totally at ease to disagree with. If you are where the buck starts from, why should you be in any position of discomfort by expressing your opinions?
Because you are going to spend considerable time with your broker on the road and on the properties of others, it makes perfect sense that you want to work with someone who either has a complimentary style of work to yours, or a style that is compatible to yours. Would you prefer a Rottweiler of an agent or one whose behavior resembles more like a Golden Retriever? Do you like working with people who are loud or soft? Although these things can seem a little superficial to you, they can be critical to your own success in selling or buying a house. The last thing you want is to have an additional opponent in your agent.
Even though every individual have their preferences on sought after characteristics of a good agent, there are some universal positive traits that no one will dispute. You will ideally want to hire someone who is competent, with at least a little related experienced, specializing in the area you are interested in, ethical, and knowledgeable. Most importantly, he listens to your concerns and inputs to serve you better.
Here are 10 typical questions to throw at an agent before making the formal move to hire them.
1) Are you a full-time agent or part-timer?
2) How many years have you been an agent?
3) What percentage of your clients are involved in this neighborhood?
4) What are the prospects of this neighborhood?
5) Is your client base mostly made up of buyers or sellers?
6) Are you a buying agent, selling agent, or a broker?
7) Off the top of your head, how much can I sell or buy?
8) What kind of media advertising are you most engaged in?
9) Will I be able to get what I want in the current market?
10) What alternatives do you have to meet my needs?
Notice that I did not include any questions on commissions. Compensation is hardly a valid factor to judge a person’s ability. This is because the cheapest ones are not always the worst and the most expensive ones are seldom the best. But the best ones are surely worth the money. Anyway, if you are ask how much the commissions will be, you are sure to hear a safe answer about how there are industry standards and practices on charges. After which they will quote you a percentage point. You can often negotiate these rates even after a figure has already been previously agreed. It’s not unethical, just industry practice.
And I don’t know about you. But I just cannot stand people who always thread the neutral line never revealing their positions. This frustration compounds when someone I hire does the same thing. So I would not hire anyone who cannot give a frank answer or opinion for any of the above questions.