How to Pick a Real Estate Agent

Some (unsolicited) advice if you’re looking to pick a real estate agent:

  • Don’t pick the first real estate agent you hear about, meet, or get referred to! It’s an important decision for a huge financial transaction, so it’s well worth your time to consider what you’re looking for in your agent
  • Check out Ramit Sethi’s (great financial blogger) blog posts about buying a house — this is a huge investment, so take the time to read up on how to do this well, as saving some money/avoiding headaches here is so much more valuable than reducing your Starbucks monthly costs

We went so far as to ask several of our friends for real estate agent referrals, emailed them a list of questions (see below), reviewed the answers, and then selected a few of them to meet in-person to “interview’ them before we picked one — it took some time, but we felt like this was one of those decisions in life that was worth it (we ended up with a great agent, in case anyone wants a referral for someone in the Northern Virginia area).  Here are some questions you could ask a potential real estate agent:

  1. What percentage of your clients are buyers (vs. sellers)?
  2. Which cities/neighborhoods do you primarily represent buyers and sellers?
  3. How many buyers did you represent last year?
  4. What’s the average difference (in dollars and %) between your initial offer and final sale price, when representing buyers?
  5. What is your business philosophy? (How do you search for new homes? How many homes do you show a buyer each outing? Are you able to show houses on nights and weekends?)
  6. Will I be working with you directly or others as well? In other words, will you handle all aspects of my transaction or will you delegate some tasks to a sales associate or administrative assistant? A knowledgeable assistant can be invaluable, but you want to make sure you can connect with your agent regularly.
  7. Will you represent me exclusively or may you choose to represent the seller?
  8. Do you work full-time or part-time as a real estate agent?
  9. How many other buyers are you representing now? How many sellers?
  10. Is your real estate license in good standing?
  11. How many years of real estate experience do you have?
  12. Are you also a broker,  Realtor, and/or an agent?
  13. If we sign a buying agreement with you and it isn’t working, what is your policy about cancelling an agreement?
  14. What are the top 2-3 things that separate you from other realtors or real estate agents?
  15.  Can you provide me with the names and phone numbers of 1-3 past clients who have agreed to be references?
  16. What haven’t we asked that we should?

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