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Reference Checks – 7 Questions To Ask An Agent’s Former Client
A lot of people who hire agents don’t make reference checks. This is even when they have asked for reference contacts and provided with them.
There can be a few reasons why this so:
- It can make them appear too exaggerating in how serious they are taking this
- Talking to a stranger can be awkward
- The fear of getting rejected by the reference can be a lingering thought
Yet when you put into perspective the amount of money each real estate transaction concerns, making reference checks should be a standard protocol.
We tend to make reference checks for a lot of stuff that don’t come close to what a house costs. So why not this?
There is nothing to be embarrassed about calling up someone who was a client of an agent and asking about the agent’s performance.
If anything, it just says how seriously you take your money. And often times, if an agent is nothing but trouble, a former customer would most likely alert you to a warning that you simply cannot ignore.
Here are 7 questions you should be prepared to ask. Add your own questions as you see fit.
1) Is the agent trustworthy?
This is one of those questions where you would most likely arouse a politically correct answer most of the time.
It take one damn repulsive agent for a previous client to say that he cannot be trusted.
What you are looking for is an answer that is anything but a direct “No”.
However, sometimes the reference do feel that the agent deserves a “No”, yet he is too nice to say something so scathing on someone else professionally.
So they try to tip-toe around the question. In this case, you have to probe further and deeper.
You should stay away from an agent who cannot be trusted even so slightly.
2) Does he have time to attend to you?
With an eye on how much you would be remunerating the agent, the least you should expect from him is to:
- Answer your calls
- Call back if your calls were missed
- Reply to messages
- Make it for appointments
While buyers and sellers are often advised to be more understanding towards the unpredictable nature in the job of a property agent, a competent agent should be able to manage his time efficiently.
If he is really up to his neck with the amount of customers he is serving, his eyes are too focused on the money. The implication is that he is taking on more clients even when he knows fully well that he is being stretched to the limit and service standards would suffer.
I would run from agents like these.
Sometimes this question also reveals the attribute of being laid back.
3) Is the agent able to explain the transaction process in a language that humans can understand?
One of the things that annoy me the most when meeting professionals is when they use industry jargon that only people in the industry would be familiar with.
This is commonly the case with insurance brokers, bankers and anyone in the financial industry, real estate agents, attorneys, etc.
Buying and selling a house is a major decision that can have great consequences.
The whole transaction process which includes prospecting all the way down to closing can be a really complicated process that the average person cannot understand the first time.
A good agent should be able to explain and elaborate everything to a client who finds it challenging to comprehend.
4) Did the agent inform and remind you of contract deadlines?
There are various stages in a transaction. And a lot of them have deadlines that have to be met or the deal could potentially collapse.
Some lazy agents don’t see it as their responsibility to remind clients of deadlines to execute certain tasks for example getting a mortgage approved.
If you are dealing with properties for the first time, you might be shocked at the number of deadlines and dates where you have to get specific tasks done and completed in order to move forward with a deal.
You need an agent to inform you of them and remind you about it to ensure you don’t step on any pitfalls.
5) Did the agent managed to help you get a good price?
Sellers would be concerned with a high selling price, while buyers would be concerned with a low buying price.
And everyone knows that it would be easier for a deal to happen if a seller decreases the selling price or a buyer increases the buying offer.
So sometimes agents lure clients to either increase or decrease their valuations in an effort to close a deal as fast as possible. This is so that the agent can cash in his commission check as soon as possible.
Yet it can be against the interest of the client.
Even if a seller is fully happy with the price he eventually got, he would not be happy if he found out that it could have gone $5,000 higher.
This transaction price is often the benchmark which most clients base the performance of an agent on.
So it would be wise to ask how satisfied they were with the sale or purchase of their house.
6) Would you hire the same agent again in future?
This is the pivotal test of how satisfied the client really was.
Granted. There are many reason why a previous client would not hire the same agent again that has no bearing on the ability of the agent.
- He wants to hire his cousin next time
- He has access to a group agent that can do it for him
- He wants to try FSBO
So do probe further if you get a negative answer on this one.
7) Is there anything you feel I should know about him which I have not asked about?
When this question is thrown out there, get ready for what you might receive.
Ultimately, the hiring decision is yours to make.
Sometimes you might have a good feeling about an agent, or find that you share an incredible rapport with him, and willing to hire him even though your reference checks advice you otherwise.
In this event, you are on your own.