Smart consumers interview potential real estate brokers before deciding on whom to hire. Just as you are sizing up the potential for a good fit, rest assured that the real estate broker will likely be interviewing you, too. You wouldn’t work with just any broker off the street, and good brokers are just as selective about their clients, too.
Don’t interview brokers from the same company! Call the managing broker from each company and ask them to send someone who they think would be good for your situation. Believe me, they won’t send just anyone.
Also, focus on local brokers who know the area, know the market in their area and can be available to service you. If your broker is 50 miles away, how will they know to price your house right? Who will answer local questions when they arise, replenish brochures when they’re gone or hold a Realtor’s open-house to introduce local buyer brokers they know to the possibilities that are hidden in your home. Simply, local brokers get better results.
- How Long Have You Been in the Business?
The standard joke is there’s nothing wrong with a new broker that a little experience won’t fix. But that’s not to say that freshly licensed brokers aren’t valuable. Some brokers with 20 years of experience repeat their first year over and over. Newer brokers tend to have more time to concentrate on you.
While I am not suggesting you hire some aging geezer with a cane but experience does counts. Real estate brokers today have to be computer experts, photographers, copywriters, negotiators, communicators as well as property attorneys. They also have to have the money to invest in your project. It all counts.
- What is Your Marketing Plan or Strategy for My Needs?
As a buyer, you will need to know how will you search for my new homes? How many homes will I likely see before I find a home I want to buy? How do you handle multiple offers and do you present offers yourself? You should expect to see 4-5 homes a day, for as long as it takes to find your home. All the homes should fit your parameters, and the broker should preview those homes for you so not to waste your time.
As a seller, you will need to know specifically, how will you sell my home? Where and how often do you advertise? How do you market online? You should prefer your broker to know the Internet like the back of their hand, do direct mail, send e-flyers, produce four-color brochures, and present you with a marketing campaign designed specifically for you.
- What are your goals and objectives?
Ask the broker to reiterate your goals and objectives. If the broker does not appear to have a thorough understanding of what you want, despite your attempts to explain what you want, then hire somebody else. Some brokers do not listen very well. You want an broker who will listen to you and communicate with you. The best way to find out if the broker comprehends your desires is to ask the broker to repeat it back to you.
- What Are the Top Three Things That Separate You From other brokers?
A good broker won’t hesitate to answer this question and will be ready to fire off why he or she is best suited for the job. Everyone has their own standards, but most consumers say they are looking for brokers who are honest, assertive, excellent negotiators, available by phone or e-mail, friendly, analytical and able to maintain a good sense of humor under trying circumstances.
- May I Review Documents Beforehand That I Will Be Asked to Sign?
A sign of a good real estate broker is a professional who makes forms available to you for preview before you are required to sign them. As a buyer, ask to see a sample purchase agreement and ask the broker to point out your cancellation rights in this document. If the broker hems and haws, or hesitates to explain the purchase agreement to you, hire another broker.
As a seller, ask to see the listing agreement. Ask about reserving the right to sell the home yourself. If you see a fee you do not understand, question it.
- How Will You Help Me Find Other Professionals?
Let the real estate broker explain to you who he or she works with and why they choose these professionals. Your broker should be able to supply you with a written list of referring vendors such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors and title companies. Ask for an explanation if you see the term “affiliated” because it could mean that the broker and their broker are receiving compensation from one or all of vendors, and you could be paying a premium for the service.
- How Much Do You Charge?
Typically, real estate brokers charge a percentage, from 1% to 4% to represent one side of a transaction: a seller or a buyer. A listing broker may charge, for example, 3.5% for herself and another 3.5% for the buyer’s broker, for a total of 7%.
All fees are negotiable as well as services. Normally, selling brokers base their commission on the marketing plan they envision. It is not uncommon for an broker to spend $1000 – $3000 to advertise your property and if you feel something in the plan isn’t necessary, ask about discounted fees.
- What Kind of Guarantee Do You Offer?
If you sign a listing or buying agreement with the broker and later find that you are unhappy with the arrangement, will the broker let you cancel the agreement? Will the broker stand behind their service to you? What is their company’s policy about canceled agreements?
It’s also important that you not abandon your broker too quickly. In a market where 90-120 days are the norm to sell a home, be prepared to support your broker’s efforts for at least the average selling time.
Be careful. Another broker will certainly be interested in taking over your listing after their predecessor has invested dollars and time but if you are dissatisfied, interview again.
- What Haven’t I Asked You That I Need to Know?
Pay close attention to how the real estate broker answers this question because there is always something you need to know, always. You want an broker to take time with you — to make sure you feel comfortable and secure with their knowledge and experience. They should know how to listen and how to counsel you, how to ask the right questions to find out what they needs to know to better serve you.