How To Interview a Real Estate Agent

Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home, the next step is to connect with a seller’s agent, the person who will be working on your behalf to find buyers for your home. While we believe there are no hard and fast rules to this process, there is one big caveat we always like to share: Make sure you talk to several potential agents but never choose the one who promises they can secure you a much higher price for your place than the other agents. These appraisals will vary of course but if something sounds too good to be true, it is. And you’ll only be setting yourself up for  months of price cuts and the frustration of keeping your place in showing condition and making yourself scarce at a moment’s notice. Everyone has access to the same data and comps so your decision should never be based solely on a high number.

That said, the only other really big consideration is finding someone you gel with. You’ll be spending lots of time together so this should be a person you at least don’t hate talking with and ideally be someone you like and respect because they’ll be your guide through this process. 

Now, on to what to ask your real estate agent:

How many listings do you currently have?

There is no magic answer, but make sure you understand what’s really going on in their business. Lots of listings could mean resources are stretched thin. And no listings may mean the agent is not particularly great at what they do; or it may mean they just closed three deals the month before or tend to work mostly with buyers. Listings can also give you insight into the markets the agent is most familiar with. For example, if they have four listings in the Bronx but no others, and you’re in the West Village, you might be concerned.

How long have you been working as an agent?

Be wary of hiring anyone with fewer than two years experience unless they are a junior member backed by a larger team with lots of experience.

Do you have any other listings in my building or any listings comparable to mine?

Similar listings are positive, because the agent can easily send buyers your way.

What education do you have that prepared you for a career in real estate?

You should expect at least a college education (though if all else feels right, go with your gut). Brooklyn buyers tend to be an educated bunch, so someone with whom you can relate is crucial. 

Do you have an assistant or team?

You want to know whether the agent has the infrastructure to best serve your listing. What happens when they are busy? What if they have multiple listings? A team, a partner, and/or an assistant is preferable because one agent can’t do it all if they’re actually busy. Believe it or not, this team support is a great sign.

What happens if you’re unavailable and a buyer or their broker calls for a showing?

Do they have a call service or assistant? What are your agent’s showing hours (will they do before and/or after business hours, do they take Saturdays off)? Again, there’s no “right” answer but you need to know what your agent can accommodate in order to make your decision.

May I see your marketing plan for my apartment?

Some but not all agents will give you a marketing plan before the exclusive listing agreement is signed. At a minimum, you should ask, “Assuming I sign with you will you provide me with a copy of your marketing plan so I can follow the plan as time goes on?” If they say no, they may not really have a formal plan and it could mean they’re not going to take your listing seriously. 


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