As a REALTOR, I can see many ways that agents can (and do) cut corners. I see it every day, from blurry iPhone photos on the MLS to not answering requests to show their listing. I've seen it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Why do agents do this? I have no idea. But it, unfortunately, makes the rest of us look bad. I can see why sellers consider doing a for sale by owner (FSBO). Some Google searches and a good seller's market could make a FSBO transaction as successful as one with a terrible agent.
But I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be like this! In fact, a GOOD agent is worth their weight in gold and can make you so much more money that you'll be glad you paid them their commission!
Here are 7 interview questions you should ask your prospect REALTORs:
1) How do you go about photographing our home?
The correct answer is, "I schedule professional photos."
I always hire a professional photographer to photograph my listings. The larger the home/property, the more photos you can expect. I also always include a 3D walk-through - this has become more helpful for remote buyers relocating from different states. Depending on the market and the listing, I will also hire a videographer. Lastly, I pay for all of this! I am hired to market a listing thus I, as the agent, should pay for the marketing materials. That should be a no-brainer!
2) Where will our listing be posted and shared?
The correct answer is, "The MLS (obviously), Zillow, Realtor.com, and other posting sites and it'll be blasted on social media."
Please let your agent take all the social media videos that they ask for. I've also had other agents request a showing of my listing with the sole purpose of videoing a home tour to share on social media. This might feel a little weird, but the more we can get your home seen, the better! I have gotten buyers from sharing my listings on social media. It works.
3) How do you go about driving multiple offers?
The correct answer is, "Timing, and I price the home properly."
First, I always list my homes on a Thursday. Showings are most convenient for buyers on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. This gives buyers a day to see the listing, mull it over, and schedule a showing with their agent. I can also drive more foot traffic by hosting open houses on those days.
If the house is priced just a hair under what it should be, you will create urgency with potential buyers, and gather multiple offers over asking within the first 48 hours.
With this strategy, you should be under contract by Monday.
4) What listing price do you suggest for our home and can you walk us through how you came up with that number?
If they haven't already, they may need to do a walk-through of your home and get back to you within 24 hours after researching comparables in the area. Basically, understand that they can't just answer this question on the fly as each home is so different.
The correct answer is, "After viewing your home, analyzing the market, and researching comparables in your area, I would feel confident listing your home at $X. Let me walk you through the numbers."
I come to every listing appointment with a printed report of comparables, market statistics, and what I feel their home is valued at based on this information. I walk my clients through every page and explain every detail. We discuss the pros and cons of listing too low and listing too high. I gain an understanding of their financial needs/goals from this transaction as well as their logistical and timeline hurdles of listing.
5) Can you walk me through how you go about marketing a listing?
Answers may vary as every agent markets differently and the local real estate market is ever changing which means our marketing is as well. However, you are looking for an answer that is more than just "I'll post it on the MLS." You should see a little excitement in their eyes and hear some creative answers.
Let me share a few things that I've been doing lately that I've found much success with! I mail out really cute coming soon flyers to 50 homes in your surrounding area inside hand-addressed envelopes. When the listing goes live, I hand-deliver 50 door hangers to those same 50 homes. I also drop off a punny gift to the 6 homes immediately around the listing (2 homes on either side and 3 directly across the street). Right now, I'm sending a dough kneading kit saying something along the lines of "We knead your help finding a buyer." I love connecting with the immediate neighbors and that connection leads to referrals from these neighbors trying to help us find the right buyer for us and for them! Everybody wants the chance to hand-pick their neighbor.
I also blast the listing on social media with quality photos and videos, local Facebook groups, and community pages, I share it with local REALTORs I've connected with, and of course my brokerage shares the listing as well!
6) What is your negotiation style and what are some things we might be able to negotiate on our home?
The correct answer is, "I work for you and have you in my best interest. I will fearlessly negotiate everything I can with that in mind to get you the best deal possible."
...Or something along those lines...
I, personally, love the negotiation aspect of being a REALTOR. When I was about 10 years old my family and I went to Mexico and learned what bartering was. By the end of the day, I was bartering for my parents to buy our souvenirs because I was the only one who could get the price down. I remember thinking, "I love bartering! I wish everything was purchased by bartering!" Haha, I still feel the same.
Everyone is willing to pay a specific price based on the value they personally assign it. Thus everything is negotiable and everyone has a different idea of what something is worth! How fun! (For me at least!) My job is to find you the buyer who wants your home the most and shows it with their best offer forward.
We may also come across hiccups with the inspection or the appraisal and further negotiations will need to take place. That's where passion for the job and loyalty to the client come into play. Despite what value others place on said hiccup, my goal is to get my client the best deal possible and I negotiate as such. The value I assign to the opportunity to "barter" for my clients is priceless... and it shows in how I negotiate for them.
7) What is your favorite thing about being a REALTOR?
Answers may vary, but if you don't see a fire light up in them, you are interviewing the wrong agent. It also helps if they have a hard time picking one thing.
I personally would probably go on a tangent and resist the urge to tell you my life story. I feel I was made for this job in so many ways haha! And if you couldn't tell by now, I love EVERYTHING about being a real estate agent.
Here are some other questions that are important to ask so you feel educated and prepared to list your home:
What is the average number of days on the market right now in my area?
What can I do to better stage my home?
Do you see any eye-sores or repairs that should be made before we list?
How have your previous listings gone in this area or with a comparable home to mine?
What does your working schedule look like?
Where do you find a good agent?
I feel like everyone knows at least one realtor. My one suggestion is that if you haven't personally witnessed what your realtor friend is like in their professional element, please don't make assumptions based on how they are in their personal life. For example, oftentimes I look like a hot mess at pre-school pick-up, or other times I probably don't seem very friendly because I need to rush off for showings. So, please give your friend or family member a chance. Interview them and ask for references. I believe we should all support each other within our own communities first if possible.
As for referrals. Do you know anyone who recently sold or bought a home in your area? Ask them who their realtor was and how they liked them.
Do NOT post on a large community page. Every REALTOR and their mom will comment saying, "Pick me! I'm the best!" You could, however, post on a very small community page, like a church group or your mommy play date group.
If you know and trust an agent, but they aren't in the state you are shopping in, ask them for a referral! We agents are well-connected with each other! I have tons of real estate agents I would highly recommend in many different states.
In closing, please please please FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS REAL ESTATE, pick a good agent. You're going to pay them a commission regardless, please find one you are confident will earn that commission! If you're looking in Arizona, reach out to me I'd love to be asked these questions ;) If you're looking in another state, I'd love to connect you with an agent I'd trust with my own transaction.
Jessica Doberneck with