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5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Real Estate Broker

They say, “April showers bring May flowers,” but this season may bring more movement in the housing market as springtime is one of the most popular times for home buying and selling. The influx of transactions can be credited to better weather, stronger curb appeals, and moving before school enrollment begins. Although spring is one of the strongest seasons for the residential market, it may not be all rosebuds and butterflies if you don’t have the right advisors. Choosing a seasoned and attentive real estate broker can make or break the success of your real estate transaction especially during times of high demand.

A real estate broker, also known as a real estate agent or realtor, represents buyers and/or sellers in a real estate transaction and can help you navigate the process. According to a 2022 report by statista, the majority of home buyers in the United States purchased their home through a real estate agent. It is paramount to work with someone who you feel comfortable with on a personal level and that will get you an outstanding result.

Here are the top 5 questions you should ask a real estate broker before you hire them:

1) How long have you been an agent?

How long someone has been a real estate broker can be a telling sign of their experience and qualifications, but unlike other industries, age is not necessarily an indicator of expertise since many individuals transition into the real estate profession at different stages of their life. For example, a 40-year-old broker may actually only have a couple years of real-world experience. Others work as real estate agents part-time and may also lack the level of experience needed to help you. While every agent is different–and there are many committed new, part-time agents–it may be more advantageous to work with someone that has years of experience and is readily available to you throughout the buying or selling process.

A good general rule of thumb is to work with someone that has at least five years of experience and has completed transactions that are of a similar caliber to yours. For example, if an agent has 15 years of experience, but has only done transactions in the $400,000 – $750,000 range and you have a multi-million dollar transaction, they may not be the best fit. It can also be beneficial if they specialize in your region, since they will know more about the town or city’s specificities and can utilize local connections.

2) Do you specialize in a certain area/town/property type?

If your real estate broker is familiar with or specializes in the area in which you are looking to buy or sell, it can give you a competitive edge. Certain areas may have different amenities that you would prefer such as school systems, lower crime rates, or access to waterfront, parks, etc. An agent that is confident in a particular region can be important especially if it is a highly desired, and therefore competitive, area.

Choosing a real estate agent who is well-versed in your property type is also important in ensuring a successful transaction. If you’re selling or looking to buy a single-family home, it’s best to find an agent whose expertise is with this property type. Contrarily, if you’re looking to buy a luxury condo in the city, or a multi-family home, it would be wise to find an agent with that particular experience.

3) Do you have a team or a solo agent?

Whether or not your agent is a solo practitioner or has a team may not seem essential, but it will likely impact your experience working with them. The real estate transaction process includes many different parties: agent, attorney, title examiner, mortgage company, inspector, appraiser, and more. Having an agent or a team that can serve as the deal quarterback to help coordinate all of these parties can alleviate much of the stress that comes with buying or selling real property.

4) Do you have a team of referral partners you trust (attorney, lender, inspector, etc)?

Run in the other direction if your real estate agent does not have a strong network. Real estate transactions have many moving parts, and if your agent doesn’t have well-established relationships with several referral partners, it may be a sign that they aren’t as experienced as they say they are, or worse, don’t have strong relationships with other deal partners.

Choosing a well-connected agent can give you the necessary edge to learn about properties before they are listed, find a reputable inspector or appraiser, source a buyer, and more. An agent’s network may be one of the strongest gauges of their overall value.

5) What is your communication style?

Getting a sense for your agent’s communication style can help mitigate potential missteps throughout the process. If you are someone who wants constant and proactive communication, you should note that as a priority to your agent. If you prefer to only be contacted when absolutely necessary, articulate that as well. Your agent likely has a preferred way of doing things, and while your communication approach doesn’t need to perfectly align to have a pleasant experience, it can be helpful to clarify expectations.

You should also ask your agent whether they represent sellers or buyers more frequently to ensure they are a good fit for your side of the deal. If you are a buyer, you will likely need to be in longer, and more frequent communication with your agent to ensure you are both on the same page. The agent may need to take you to see many properties before you find the right one, which requires diligence and patience. As a buyer, you should ask the agent:

  • Do you investigate off-market opportunities for buyers?
  • How do you leverage your network to help us remain competitive in this market?
  • Do you require a buyer’s agent agreement, and what are the terms?

If you are a seller, the communication may be less frequent but still needs to be clear so there are no misunderstandings around showings and transaction deadlines. As a seller, you should ask the agent:

  • What kind of marketing do you do? (Professional photos, digital ads, social media, print ads, mailing etc.)
  • What is your typical timeline for listing, accepting an offer, closing etc.?
  • Do you source buyers by reaching out to your sphere of agents to find someone who may be the right fit?

Once you’ve found an amazing real estate agent, you should consult the expertise of a top-notch real estate attorney to ensure that the legal proceedings of the transaction go smoothly. Check out our recent blog on the Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Attorney to learn more. If you are thinking about buying or selling, or have questions about hiring a quality real estate agent, contact experienced real estate attorney Elizabeth Perez Barletta at Ligris + Associates.

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