10 Questions to Ask a Buyer's Agent
What questions should I ask when interviewing a real estate buyer’s agent?
I was on the phone recently with a couple looking to relocate to the Charlotte area. They were asking the typical questions someone relocating to Charlotte might ask, but they were also ‘interviewing’ me. Most of their questions were ones I had heard and answered many times before, but the one question that stumped me a little was, “What questions SHOULD we be asking you?”. I’m glad they asked because it prompted me to sit back and put myself in their shoes and think about the kinds of questions they or any prospective home buyer should ask a buyer’s agent.
I’ve read many blogs over the years, written by real estate agents, listing questions you should be asking your agent, but it seems that so many of them are from the viewpoint of what that agent wants you to ask rather than what needs to be asked. Instead of more of the same, I will give you the most honest and truthful advice I can and with your best interests in mind, not mine. If I, a long-time Realtor since 1999, were in the market to purchase a home, here are some questions I’d likely find myself asking my prospective buyer’s agent:
- How long have you been in the business? - This is more or less a question to get things rolling. Someone fresh in the industry may bring more energy and hard work than someone who has been doing it for decades. Conversely, an experienced agent can get you through things (winning a multiple offer situation, getting over inspection hurdles, having reputable contacts, etc.) that a newer agent has never faced.
- Why did you choose real estate as your profession? - A great way to get to know them, what they did before they became a Realtor, what makes them tick, etc. If their motivation was all about making money, that might show where their true interest lies.
- Are you full-time? - Real estate is a tough career, and most agents either don’t make it or don’t earn enough for it to be their sole source of income. But frankly, it’s hard to show homes when needed or to properly run a transaction if the agent isn’t available and easy to reach. So, this is worth knowing but shouldn’t rule them out necessarily. I’ve seen even experienced agents go through rough patches due to the market conditions and have to get other work occasionally.
- Do you work mostly with buyers or sellers? - I would want the answer to be “both” rather than just one or the other. If all your agent does is work with buyers, they might not understand the mind of a home seller and how to best appeal to their needs as much as someone who has represented sellers in the past. Having the ability to step in the other party's shoes can go far when it comes to negotiations and making your offer stand out above others.
- What do you enjoy most about your job? - This is one of the most important questions you can ask if you really want to get a feel for what drives them. Is it satisfaction from pleasing clients, how they feel when they earn their trust, or how much they can make from a sale? You’ll probably recognize if they’re trying to appease you or being genuine with their answer.
What areas do you specialize in? - You want someone who works in and understands the real estate market in the area(s) you’re considering, how certain n’hoods and areas are trending, etc.
What makes you a good buyer’s agent or differentiates you? - I would look for them to say something more than just what firm they work for, how many clients they’ve represented, how many years they’ve been a Realtor, or any of the standard answers that don't necessarily mean much. Instead, how exactly will their services benefit you, the buyer-client, over another agent's representation? What value will they add to you that you can't get elsewhere?
How do you typically communicate with your buyer-clients? - Ideally, they ask you the same question and try their best to mirror your best method of communication. Are you better with text messaging for the most part? Do you prefer more personalized phone calls? Maybe you prefer most things go through email so you can carefully track all correspondence? Ask about this so that you’re on the same page.
Do you on evenings and weekends? - Tell me about your availability. - I respect a Realtor’s right to take personal time for themselves, family and household responsibilities, etc. But, after 24+ years as a broker, I cannot imagine being as effective for my clients as I have been had I not been available in the evenings (within reason) and on weekends. So, ask about their practices and availability.
What do you like about living here, and what do you do for fun? - Just a great way to learn more about them as a person, get them to open up, and hopefully find some good information on the area.
- Do you charge any fees? In recent years, some firms or brokers have been charging the buyer-client a fee for their services. These fees may be called 'administration fees', 'regulatory compliance fees', 'transaction fees', etc. If you want to use that agent and are okay with this fee, it's your choice. But this very important detail should be transparent and clearly pointed out to you. At Hendrix Properties, we do NOT charge any upfront fees for our services.
You may have some of your own questions to add to the mix, but at the end of the day, you want to work with a buyer's agent that you feel you can trust, have a rapport with, and have faith that they'll take your needs seriously and have the experience and know-how to help you reach your goals. I hope this article and these questions to ask a buyer's agent have been helpful.