Tuesday, August 28, 2018

I want to interview 3 real estate pros, but I don't know what to ask them.

Most people will tell you that you should interview 3 real estate professionals before deciding who to hire.  But what should you ask them?  Here are some good questions:

I have friends and family who do not live in my service area.  They ask me if I might know an agent in their area whom I could refer them to.  I can do a little research and refer a couple of agents but ultimately the client needs to interview the agents and make the final decision.  

Here are some great questions to help you decide who you might want to hire:

1)  How long have you been licensed to sell real estate?

Be suspicious of the agent who says "I've been in the business for XX years".  Historically that means they are new, and they are including some other experience as being "in the business".  You want an agent that has been an agent for 5 years, not an agent who's been an agent for 1 year, and an assistant escrow officer for 4 years.  

It's hard to believe but some agents might not tell the truth, so if you have doubts, you can check an agent's license status by visiting this website: CA BRE License lookup

2)  What type of license do you have?

There are only 2 answeres. A Sales Associate, or a Broker. 

The sales associate is the most common type of license.  It's an easier license to obtain.  A sales associate only needs to take 3 college level real estate courses.
  1. Real Estate Principles
  2. Real Estate Practice
  3. Any 1 of 15 other college-level real estate courses approved by the California Real Estate Commissioner
Sales Associates need no prior experience but are required to work under the supervision of a broker.  

A brokers license is more difficult to obtain.  Some of the requirements to be a broker include:
  • 2 years experience licensed as a Sales Associate
  • The following statutory college-level courses
    • Real Estate Practice
    • Legal Issues in Real Estate
    • Real Estate Finance
    • Real Estate Appraisal
    • Real Estate Economics
  • Three of any of the following:
    • Real Estate Principles
    • Business Law
    • Property Management
    • Escrows
    • Office Administration
    • Mortgage loan brokering
    • Advanced legal aspects of real estate
Lastly, the broker needs to pass a much more rigorous state test to become licensed as a broker.

Typically the cost to hire a broker is the same as a sales associate.  By law, commissions are always negotiable.

3) Are you a Realtor?

Not all real estate agents are Realtors.  To become a Realtor, you have to be licensed to sell real estate, have your license in good standing, and commit to supporting the National Association of Realtor's code of ethics.  Realtors benefit from extra training, resources, and support.   Here is a link to the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics: Code

4)  Can you provide me a list of all the listings you've sold in the last 12 months?  

Once you get that information, see how many of those listings are in your neighborhood.  Does the agent have experience in your neighborhood?  Does he/she know what makes your neighborhood special, what elementary school the kids go to, and where the locals shop? This is important information for marketing your home. 

5)  Where do you live?

I would want to use an agent that can get to my house quickly to show it if necessary.  It also shows they value the community you live in. 

6)  Do you own your own home? 

This may sound insignificant, but would you want to see a marriage counselor who has never been married?  Why would you want to use an agent that does not own his/her own home?  If they don't, I'd want to know why.  Did they lose it during the real estate crash in 2007?  I'm not sure I'd want to rely on an agent who is not a good steward of their own investment.  Or, do they just not believe in the value of home ownership?  Have they experienced the stress of suddenly needing to negotiate repairs with a seller while they are trying to move out of their home and into a new one???

7)  Can you give me a list of properties that you currently have listed? 

Hopefully, they have one or two active listings.  If not, I'd ask them to provide me a list of the homes sold in the last 2 years.  

If the agent provides you with a list of actively listed homes, I'd drive over to the properties and see what type of flier is out in front of the property.  Is there a flier?  Is the box empty, or is this an agent that doesn't do fliers? Is the flier something to be proud of, or is it a piece of 8x10 copy paper with a few bullet points, and one photo of the front of the house.  Agents who do this type of work do not get my business. 

8)  Do you have your own website?

I'd want to know if my agent maintains his/her own website, or do they rely on their broker's web site?  Here's a simple test, do a search engine check on your agent and see what sites come up.  Take a look at it and if there is an article about a real estate topic, ask the agent about it during your interview.  If he/she has no idea what you are talking about, they probably don't maintain a web presence and relies on the company to post articles for him/her.  The Internet is a very important place to advertise properties.  Some agents don't get it and think that just entering a listing in the MLS is all he/she needs to do.  

9)  What is your marketing plan for my house?

An agent who comes to your home prepared with examples of their work should be recognized.  An agent who says he'll "get back to you with some examples" should be sent packing.  Marketing a home should be much more than just putting it in the MLS.  Here are some things that might make your home more appealing than a home in another part of town:
  • award-winning school
  • popular park
  • good or convenient shopping
  • transit system 
  • historical places or landmarks
  • fun "things to do"
The above list is just a few things an agent can do to make your home stand out from others.  Agents who do not think "outside the box" will just put your home on the MLS and hope it sells.

Of course there are other questions you might have that pertain more specifically to your situation, but I hope the 9 questions above can give you an idea of what to ask.  

I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • JimCheneyRealtor@gmail.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633

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