Finding a Realtor may be the most important step in your search for a new home. There are questions a buyer should ask their Realtor to make sure they’re a good fit for the way you like to do things. Your Realtor should understand your needs and desires, keep your best interests first and foremost.
Think of it as a job interview; if you like what you hear, like their qualifications and feel like they’re a good match for your needs, they’re hired.
1. What is your experience?
One of the first questions a buyer should ask their Realtor is about their experience. Not just in terms of years, but in real estate the number of sales is just as important.
You want to make sure your Realtor has a good base of knowledge and experience in the type of properties you’re looking for, and that they’re well in tune with the current market.
If the Realtor doesn’t have much experience it’s good to know if they have any related experience or knowledge. A background in real estate investment or construction could be a valuable resource to tap as you evaluate possible properties.
2. What is your approach to the buying process?
Does your Realtor’s way of doing things align with your own philosophy and approach. Some buyers prefer to monitor listings themselves and then just inform their Realtor to set up a showing when they find one of interest. Other buyers prefer to sit back and entrust their Realtor to do all the leg work. Make sure each of you has a clear understanding of who’s watching the market.
And be clear about your timeframe for your search; some buyers are very anxious and want to get their new home purchased quickly while others are more patient, willing to wait until they find the “perfect” place. If you’re the latter, you don’t want your Realtor pressuring you before you’re ready to buy.
3. What are your expectations from your clients?
You should know what your Realtor expects of you. Conversely, your Realtor should know what you expect of them.
Be open in all your communications with your Realtor; let them know when you’re anxious to buy, or when you might want to take a break from the search. Try to stay focussed so you, or your Realtor, aren’t expending a lot of wasted energy. Make sure your financing is in order, and you’re pre-approved for a mortgage so when the right home does come along, your Realtor can move quickly and confidently on your behalf.
Be realistic in your expectations; it may take some time to find the perfect house, or you may have to make some compromises if you need to move quickly.
4. Where do you primarily work?
A Realtor who is familiar with the community and its neighbourhoods will likely get you the best result. If you’re looking in a specific area, that Realtor should know it well.
A knowledgable Realtor will be able to recommend neighbourhoods, and even streets, that are the best fit for your needs. They’ll be give you valuable information about schools in the neighbourhood, as well as daycares, parks and transit service.
5. What is your approach to evaluating a property?
A property evaluation, or Comparative Market Analysis, will compare a home you’re looking at to other similar homes in the area that are for sale or were sold recently. This will give you an idea of the local market conditions and what it will take to purchase the home you seek in the area you desire.
You should ascertain your Realtor’s approach to doing their evaluation; how detailed are the evaluations? A generic condo can be easy to evaluate, especially if there have been recent sales above or below. But evaluating a unique home can be quite difficult as there’s little to compare it with.
A skilled Realtor will be able to evaluate a property’s value with confidence and accuracy. They’ll look at similar properties outside the neighbourhood, as well as in similar neighbourhoods. Or they could use a replacement cost approach that calculates the value of the land and what it would cost to build a comparable home.
If a Realtor doesn’t provide you with any guidance and just wants to hear your offer, you may want to find another Realtor.
6. Are you part of a team, or do you work independently?
You want to know whether the Realtor you’re dealing with is going to be there for you when you need them or whether you’ll be tapping into a team of Realtors. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who is your primary contact and who is the backup if your Realtor isn’t available. If your Realtor doesn’t have a backup, establish a contingency for when they’re not available; the perfect property could come along at any time and you want to know you can jump on it.
7. How many clients are you currently working with?
This may give you an idea how much time and energy your Realtor will have available for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Keep in mind the references the Realtor provides will likely be their best and happiest clients so try to dig a little deeper by asking around the community or other people who’ve recently bought or sold a home. Search their name on Google and Facebook, check out their profile on LinkedIn.
8. What happens after I buy?
A great Realtor will be there for you if there are any issues before, during and, especially, after the purchase, such as the seller not fulfilling their end of the contract, or leaving the place in a shambles. They’ll also be available to help you settle in, perhaps recommend professionals and trades to help with any renovations or repairs you want to do. A Realtor who doesn’t abandon you once they’ve handed over the keys to your new home will likely be your Realtor for life.
9. What is your availability and how will you communicate?
Does your Realtor prefer phone contact, or email? How often will they update you? What hours are they available? And what happens if the right property comes along when the Realtor isn’t available?
Your Realtor will likely have the same questions for you.
The more you know about your Realtor’s way of operating, and vice-versa, the more likely you’ll have a good home buying experience.
10. What else do I need to know?
It’s always a good idea to ask an open-ended question to give the Realtor a chance to highlight a unique service they might offer, or speak to areas you might have overlooked. That extra little tidbit of information could be the tipping point to your decision.
Bonus question. Do you own a brewery?
This question might throw your Realtor. Unless of course they do happen to own a brewery, in which case you may end up with a particularly thirst-quenching welcome gift when you take possession of your new home!
Questions a buyer should ask their Realtor: It’s all about trust
There’s no general rule for forging a great relationship with your Realtor. It’s all about trust and personal preference.
But your Realtor should be responsive to your needs; they should be patient when you need to take a little time, and proactive when you’re anxious. Your Realtor should be a good listener who will offer advice and help find solutions. And, most importantly, your Realtor shouldn’t try to sell you into every property you view.