15 Great REALTOR® Interview Questions
Are you thinking about selling or buying FishHawk Ranch real estate? If so, you should give yourself enough time to interview a few different REALTORS® for that job. Having some great questions handy to ask potential real estate agents and understanding the responses is critical to hiring the best REALTOR® for you and your family.
One of the biggest misconceptions I come across is that all REALTORS® are created equal. Think about your job, is everyone created equal? Do all your fellow employees have the same experience, work ethic, skill sets, and talent? I’m sure your answer is no. The same holds true for the real estate industry. There are way too many buyers and sellers that will hire a REALTOR® based on a postcard, newspaper advertisement, open house, the first agent you meet, someone you know, or a relative.
Selling or buying a home is most likely the largest single financial transaction you will make in your lifetime. So how do find the best REALTOR® for you and your family? The answer is simple, interview multiple REALTORS® and ask great questions. Here are some questions to ask and what to look for in an answer. These questions will allow the cream of the crop to rise to the top.
When Did The REALTOR® Get A Florida Real Estate License?
Experience is important but it is not the only thing that makes a REALTOR® great. I would caution you about hiring someone with very little experience. Let them gain experience with someone else! Personally, I would stay away from any REALTOR® that has not closed a minimum of 10 transactions. There is just too much at stake and too many details they do not know or have not seen yet. Each transaction adds to what an agent knows, but seriously let them learn with another buyer or seller, not you. There is just too much money on the line for that education. If you want to verify when a Florida REALTOR® got their license head over to the Florida Department of Business Regulation. Just enter the agent’s last name and first name and hit search. A list of results will come up. If there is more than one REALTOR® with the same name, ensure you are looking at the correct one. If you search for me, you will see I got my Florida real estate license in March of 2006. But that only tells part of the story. I have personally sold hundreds of homes and have been involved in real estate since the 1980s. I still learn something from every closing. I think it is important to keep asking questions and dig a little deeper.
How Many Homes Has The REALTOR® Sold?
This is a very important question. As once again you want to make sure you are working with an experienced agent. Do you really want to work with an agent that sells 2 homes a year? Don’t be fooled by the agent who does not do a lot of business and tells you that because they do not do a lot of business you will get more of their attention. Great agents have systems in place that allow them to efficiently do a lot of transactions and still give personal attention and exceptional service.
I am a real estate broker (the highest form of real estate education) and continuously ranked as one of the top individual agents in Florida in closed transactions and volume. I have personally closed hundreds of homes.
One last item on this, make sure you are asking about the individual agent you are thinking of hire and not the team. Here is a little-known trick. Some agents use a “team” to look larger and look like they are doing more business than they actually do. Here is a quick example. Joe Smith is part of a 10 person team run by Joe. Sue an agent with the team gets a listing. That listing is entered into the MLS with Joe being listing agent 1 and Sue being listing agent 2. Later that week Ken, who is part of the same team does the same thing with Joe being listing agent 1 and this time Ken being listing agent 2. The team uses all the same signage “The Joe Smith team” for all of their listings and over time it looks like Joe Smith is the dominant listing agent in the area. Unfortunately, if you divide those listings by the 10 agents on the team, together they are probably just average listing agents. Worse yet some teams use unlicensed office staff to do some of the work. I am not knocking teams, just be clear exactly who you will be working with and what their experience is not the combined experience of the team.
The point is to make sure during the interview you are comparing apples to apples. Ultimately you want to find a REALTOR® that has the experience to get your home sold.
What Were The Average Days On Market Of The Homes The REALTOR® Sold As The Listing Agent?
This is a great question that most people, even agents don’t pay attention to. A high average Days on Market indicates either the home is overpriced and/or has been marketed poorly. This question is important for a few reasons.
- Does the agent understand the current local real estate market? Do they know the optimal list price to get your home sold quickly for the highest possible price? Will they recommend a price to you and explain why this is the perfect list price?
Key Point: An all too common real estate listing tactic is to “Buy a Listing”, this is accomplished when an agent will tell the seller that the home will sell for a higher price than its true market value in hopes to just get the listing. Once they get the listing they will push the seller for price reductions. Look at the agent’s average Days on Market. I bet that number is higher than the current median Days on Market. Compare the market value this agent is giving you to that of the other REALTORS® you interview. If this particular agent is high on the value of the home compared to the other agents there is a good chance you are being “bought”. Don’t fall for it, find a different agent that will be honest with you.
- The agent is unable to get the seller to truly understand what the real market value of the home really is. This agent will accept the listing even though they know it is overpriced and hope that in time the seller will reduce the price. Good agents will not waste their time and accept overpriced listings. These listings are time vampires and cost marketing dollars!
- Marketing! Is this agent a real estate marketing expert or just someone that throws a sign in the ground, puts the listing in the MLS, and hopes it sells? There is so much more to marketing and selling real estate than that. Believe me, choosing an agent that does not have a full marketing plan for your property can cost you thousands of dollars! My FishHawk Ranch real estate sellers page gets into more detail on how to properly market and sell a home.
What Is Your Price Ratio Between The REALTORS® List and Sold Price?
This is another question that gives you a good indication of how well the REALTOR® prices, markets, and negotiates homes they have listed. If there is consistently more than an 8% change from the original list price to the final sold price in this market find out why! If the home is properly priced and marketed properly, to begin with, more than an 8% price reduction on a consistent basis is extreme.
Where Is The REALTOR® Going To Market and Advertise Your Home?
Long gone are the days of sticking a real estate sign in the ground, placing the home in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), holding an open house and taking out a local newspaper ad, and getting the home to sell for the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time. With more than 90% of all home buyers finding their home online, Internet marketing is a critical step to getting a home sold! You want a REALTOR® that has a strong understanding of both online and social media marketing. Your REALTOR® should be marketing your home everywhere! Some agents will take out ads in the local newspaper and give your home a 2” x 2” spot in that ad. They will call that marketing. The only thing that is being marketed in that ad is the AGENT! Their name and branding are splattered all over that advertisement. First of all, it could be 30 days before your home shows up in a local paper, and once it does how well does it work. Sure it’s good for the agent, it gets their name out there but statistically speaking it generally does not get you home sold! Again 90% of home buyers find their home online. Your agent needs to be an internet marketing specialist!
Does The REALTOR® Have A Strong Online Presence?
To build upon the above question how strong is the agent’s online presence? Do they have their own personal website? Do they have a Facebook Page? Are they active on Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram? These sites will allow your REALTOR® to get your FishHawk Ranch home for sale in front of as many buyers as possible.
Does The REALTOR® Have A Real Estate Blog To Market Homes For Sale?
I’m willing to bet a good number of agents don’t even know what a blog is no less be active on a blog. If you are reading this article you are reading one of my real estate blog articles. In some cases, the real estate blog can be part of the REALTORS® personal website, other times it could be a separate entity. I choose to have a blog running directly from my main personal website. If you poke around my blog page you will notice that I use the blog to market FishHawk Ranch homes for sale, give real estate tips, and post-FishHawk Ranch community events. I find these blogs are great avenues to promote properties. I create a blog article about each home that promotes the home’s best features using photos, descriptions, and access to the full MLS listing. Then I use my social media channels to get that blog page out to the masses!
Will The REALTOR® Be Using Video and Virtual Tours To Market The Home?
This is another important question. Most agents will only use the poorly made virtual tour that comes with the Multiple Listing Service. Some get adventurous a try using the video features on the cell phone while they stumble around the home trying to tout the features of the home. Ugh! You want an agent that understands the scope and power of video. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth? Did you know that after Google and Facebook that YouTube is the third most trafficked website on the Internet? If the REALTOR® does use video, find out how they will shoot and edit the video and where it will be hosted. Personally I hire the best in the industry for professional photographs, drone flyovers, and state-of-art 3D interactive virtual tours. These take a lot of time, money, and effort but it makes them high quality and promotes viewership. Buyers love seeing video tours of properties and neighborhoods and these videos are very helpful to buyers that are relocating to the area. Here are samples of a couple of my videos.
What Other Websites Will The REALTOR® Market The Home On?
All of my listed get marketed on over 350 of the real estate industry’s top websites. When possible I enhance these listings to get the listing in front of as many buyers as possible. To get your home sold, it is all about presentation and having your home stand out from the crowd. It is not enough just to be on a well know Real Estate sites. It’s about being found on those sites. The REALTOR® you choose should be presenting your home with numerous high-quality photos, detailed descriptions highlighting your home’s best attributes, and a professional virtual tour whenever possible. We are a visual society. If your listing is not visually appealing a potential buyer will just move on to the next one.
Who Will Be Taking The Listing Photos Of The Home?
Cell phone cameras are getting better but should they be used to take pictures of your important listing? Probably not. Find out who is going to be taking the listing photos and what kind of camera and editing software they are using. The agent or hired professional should be using a good camera with a wide-angle lens. I cannot even begin to tell you how many terrible photos I have come across while searching for homes. Ensure the agent will be using high-quality photos and videos, it really is important!
Will You Be Communicating Directly With The REALTOR® Or Someone Else On The Team?
You hired a specific REALTOR® to work with you on either your home sale or purchase. Why then when you call do you have to speak with their assistant or another member of the team? Some “teams” are really a group of agents that work together in an area. Even when another agent calls this person all they can do is speak with someone on the “team”. Here is the way I look at it. You hired me, you should be able to get in touch with and speak with me! Ensure you will be able to speak with the REALTOR® you hire any time you need to.
Who Will Take The Buyer Calls?
You would think that the REALTOR® your hire to sell your home would be the one to have direct communication with buyers that inquiry about your home. With many REALTORS® and Real Estate offices this is not always the case. Real Estate offices have what is known as floor time. Basically, this is an agent or group of agents that come into the real estate office to handle buyer phone calls and walk-ins. Also, agents with teams sometimes have specified buyer agents to handle these calls. This is all fine and dandy except that this is not the agent you hired to sell your home and more than likely this person has never seen or knows the specific details and selling features of your home. Find out who will be taking the buyer calls and try to go with an agent that takes these important calls. It could be the difference between a sold home and a home that sits on the market.
How Accessible Will The REALTOR® Be?
The agent you hire to sell your home should be someone you are able to reach when you need to. Is this REALTOR® technologically savvy? Do they use a smartphone that has access to texts and emails? Will the REALTOR® be the one answering the phone? I will be the first one to tell you that when I am with a client I’m not going to answer my phone. That is just common courtesy. However, if an agent makes a habit of not answering the phone that is not a good sign. An agent that is technologically savvy and can be reached via email, phone and text is a huge bonus in this industry.
How Much Does The Broker Charge?
Let’s start by saying the REALTOR® is not the one that gets the real estate commission on a sold property. The brokerage that the real estate agent works for does. The agent will get paid by the company after the brokerage takes their split. Real estate commissions vary from company to company and if the Broker allows it from agent to agent. Typically buyers do not pay for a REALTOR®. Those services are FREE! For sellers that is another story. I’m sure you think that REALTORS® make a lot of money and are expensive. Trust me, most of them do not! I think the last number I saw was the average full-time agents make around $38,000 per year with no benefits. Have the REALTOR® explain to you how they get paid and exactly what they do to earn the money. Remember that generally there are two sides to the commission a seller needs to worry about. The listing agent or marketing side and the buyer agent. The listing agent is the person you hired to represent you and market your home. A good agent will put in a lot of time and expense getting this done for you. You want to make sure they are compensated properly as a great agent will be able to generate offers and get you top dollar for your property. On the buyer’s agent side you want to be competitive with the rest of the market and make your home appealing to show for other agents. These two numbers are lumped together as the amount a REALTOR® charges or real estate commission. Please don’t be penny-wise dollar foolish here. As the saying goes, in life, you get what you pay for. The same really holds true here. If you are getting a discounted commission rate it is for a reason!
Can You Terminate The Contract With The REALTOR®?
This is a great question because a REALTOR® that is confident they will get the job done should have no problem with this clause. Let’s face it even the best REALTORS® will not get along with or make everyone perfectly happy. Regardless if you are a seller or a buyer I offer my clients the opportunity to terminate our contract. If for any reason they are not happy with my service they can cancel at any time up to a purchase contract being signed. Okay, I’m happy to say it’s never happened but the offer is still available to all of my clients. Read the agreement you will sign, some agents and companies lock a seller into a 1-year contract that charges them a fee for getting out early or won’t let them out at all until the term is up. If that’s the case, my advice is to find a different agent!
My Final Thoughts
There really are some talented and great REALTOR® out there. With the proper questions and a little effort, you will find one. Don’t settle for just any REALTOR®. If you do, you will most likely end up getting aggravated and being disappointed.
Hopefully, these questions shed some light on the process and are helpful. If you need assistance finding a great agent anywhere in the country contact me, I will refer a great agent to you.
As always for FishHawk Ranch real estate and real estate in the Tampa Bay area contact me. It would be my pleasure to interview for the job! Good luck with your REALTOR® search!
Images By: studio tdes – CC-BY 2.0
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About the author: The above real estate article “15 Great REALTOR® Interview Questions” was written by Jeff Gould, a nationally recognized Tampa Bay, Florida REALTOR.
Jeff is a top-selling, nationally recognized REALTOR® and local FishHawk Ranch real estate expert. You will find him selling homes in Tampa Bay, Florida, and surrounding areas. Some of those areas include FishHawk, Lithia, Riverview, Valrico, Apollo Beach, Brandon, and Tampa.
If you are looking to sell or buy a home anywhere in the Tampa Bay area, Jeff is your local and trusted professional.
Jeff can also be reached via text or phone at (813) 421-3007.
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