Just about everyone has a friend who is a real estate agent. But is your friend the right person to help you through the process? Selling and buying a home is too important to leave to chance. The right realtor is instrumental in making the process go smoothly. That success doesn’t just hinge on your real estate agent, though. A winning partnership starts with a prepared buyer or seller.
- Determine how much you can afford. Experts recommend spending no more than 28% of your monthly earnings on your housing.
- Start the loan pre-approval process. You’ll need to gather these documents before reaching out to a lender.
- List your must-haves. Seriously think about the non-negotiables: neighborhood, size, amenities, etc. Do the same for your deal breakers.
- Document needed repairs. You know your home best; list out both cosmetic and serious repairs. Your agent can help you prioritize these.
- Deep clean. Potential buyers can’t see themselves in cluttered, dirty houses. Start with enough time in advance to get your house clean and organized.
- Research your neighborhood. Your agent will complete a comparative market analysis, but don’t just take their word for it. Do your own research and look into how similar homes are selling in your area.
What to Look for in a Realtor: 10 Questions to Ask
It’s your first meeting with a realtor to sell or buy your house. How do you know it’s the right fit? Here’s what to ask a potential realtor before hiring them.
What Area Do You Cover?
When checking a realtor’s website, many will tout the state(s) they are licensed in, but no one knows every corner of the state. Choose an agent who is familiar with the neighborhood where you plan to buy or sell. They’ll have a better understanding of the neighborhood, the schools and the shopping, and they’ll be able to answer your questions.
What Is Your Availability?
You need a realtor who’s available when you’re free — whether that’s on weekend mornings or your lunch breaks. If your schedules aren’t compatible, it’s best to find another agent.
What Is Your Ratio of Buyers/Sellers?
Is your real estate agent more comfortable with the buying or selling process? (Each presents its own unique challenges.) If you are selling your house and buying a new home, will one agent be able to assist with both transactions? While having a specialty can be helpful, look for someone well versed in both sides of the sale.
Do You Have References?
Speaking of clients: It’s a good idea to chat with some of the realtor’s previous clients. Was the sale smooth and simple? Were they able to handle unique scenarios that arose? Would they recommend this realtor to their friends?
Do You Have a Recommended Vendor List?
From painters to general contractors, your realtor should be able to provide recommendations throughout the sale process. Your realtor’s network can save you serious time and money and ensure you’re working with reputable vendors.
Do You Work as Part of a Team?
If your realtor has a support team, you have a wider range of professionals at your fingertips. However, be sure to clarify your communication expectations up front — will you work with the realtor specifically, or will it be common to receive communications from other people on the team? Be sure you are comfortable with the arrangement.
How Long Have You Worked in Real Estate?
Experience matters when it comes to real estate, but don’t discount a junior agent. They may work as part of a team (see the previous question) and have much more experienced professionals waiting in the wings to help with complex sales.
How Do You Plan to Market the Home?
If you are looking to sell a home, your realtor should have a marketing strategy for your neighborhood and home’s price point. Not all strategies work in every situation — will they be flexible if your home is on the market for longer than you anticipate?
How Do Your Realtor Fees Work?
Typically, 6% of the home’s sale value will go toward realtor fees — split between the buying and listing agents. Everything is negotiable when you are signing a contract but understand expectations before signing the dotted line.
How Long Do Typical Listings Stay on The Market?
First, do some research — use a tool like Zillow to determine the average days on market for your location. (Your local newspaper likely shares this information in its real estate section, too.) Then, compare that to the realtor’s average. Is the number much higher? Ask the realtor why. They may indicate that they cultivate relationships with buyers and bring in higher sales numbers, which is a good thing for a seller.
Take the Next Step
Choosing a realtor can be a big step. Taking the time to interview a few people before making your choice can pay off in the end. Whether you are buying or selling, you’ll likely spend significant time with this person until you close on your home — guarantee you have confidence and chemistry from the start. When the home buying or selling process is complete, be sure to contact your Farm Bureau agent and ensure you have the right homeowners insurance in place.