Eleven reasons to interview real estate agents when buying a home

Many home buyers pick an agent because they are relatives, co-workers, referred by a friend, or met at an open house. While they are likely all nice people, none of these connections by themselves is a good reason to pick a real estate agent.

There are good real estate agents, but they are not easy to identify. A large percentage of agents are unqualified; they may be dishonest, lack drive and empathy, inept, or poorly trained. However, these agents dress the same, use the same real estate lingo, drive the same cars and mimic successful agents.

Eleven reasons for multiple interviews.

Your job here is to transform each reason into a question or two. Listen carefully to each candidate’s responses.  Give them little assignments along the way. Do they follow up?

  1. Individual agents may have added-value features that their company or other agents do not offer.
  2. Large numbers of agents skip the extra mile in educating themselves to add value to their service.
  3. Not all companies support their agents to the same extent. Many agents do not have a solid back-up support plan in place if they are not available when you need them.
  4. Companies do not offer the same services. Some companies that agents work for may have programs to help you that other agents you interview cannot provide.
  5. Not all agents are capable or will give you their opinion of value when you find a home you like.
  6. Many agents are not skilled in evaluating homes.
  7. Not all agents or companies will offer you a cancellation and mutual release of any financial obligation if you are not happy with their service.
  8. Not all agents or their companies are proficient with the technologies that can provide you with the real-time data you need to make decisions based on facts as opposed to gut opinions.
  9. Not all agents communicate with clients in the same way. Text / IM? Email? Telephone? Snail mail?
  10. Agents have a variety of tactics to manage their active clients: the lone ranger, the personal assistant, the team approach, and more.
  11. Agents may or may not have personal business strategies that affect how they physically work with you. Certain areas, price ranges, type of property, are examples.

Learn from subjective questions

Why should I choose you and your agency to represent me? What are your favorite neighborhoods you work with? What else can you add you feel would help assure your selection? What is your favorite customer service experience that went beyond your customer’s expectations?

Trust but verify

Keep in mind that all real estate agents have a significant conflict of interest. Agency law offers little protection. They are independent contractors who are paid large success only fees. There is little transparency in real estate and self-perpetuated industry myths abound. Depending upon whom you ask the average active real estate agent handles between three and eleven transactions annually. No matter the source of your contact with agents, you are at significant financial risk taking the path of least resistance.