10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a REALTOR®
Homeowners should interview a few potential REALTORS® before deciding on one to sell their home. Here are some questions to ask:
1. How long have you been in the business?
A freshly-licensed REALTOR® can do a wonderful job and will have up-to-date training; those in the business longer bring more practical experience to the table. All realtors must take continuing education under the direction of OREA, Ontario Real Estate Association, in order to obtain the renewal of their license every two years, in order to practice real estate in Ontario..so don't worry, all realtors are well trained. All sales representatives and brokers are licensed and required to provide honest, knowledgeable, competent service to their clients and customers. The length of time is not as relevant as how much the person brings to the table and how well you both feel you can work well together.
2. What is your average list-to-sales-price ratio?
A competent listing REALTOR® should hold a track record for negotiating sales prices that are very close to list prices. This question has many factors that come into play when comparing list to sale price...such as how long was the house on the market, how many times was the price adjusted on the listing before the final sale came along, this question is tricky as the real estate market is a very volitile entity...changes in the market can occur quickly, unpredictably and with drastic ramifications to the whole market. The important thing to consider in this area is how will the Realtor calculate an accurate list price for your home and convey that research competently to you, the Seller. Choose the realtor who you feel comfortable with, confident in their abilty to convey the necessary strategy needed to sell your home at fair market value under the current market conditions and has the ability and knowledge to know when an adjustment may be in order.
3. How will your marketing plan meet my needs?
Specifically, what type of marketing will you do to present my home to it's best advantage and to the broadest, most interested Buyer market? What preparations before listing should we do to our home before listing? Can you help or provide contacts in the necessary trades to help get it prepared if necessary? Do you provide staging or hire a stager if needed? Do you provide a professional photographer, video tour and/or areial photograhy if warranted? What other special services do you offer?
4. Will you provide references?. Can past clients be asked to contact them to discuss their experiences while using your services? What do you like most about dealing with your clients in this industry? What are some of your most memorable experiences in dealing with past clients? What situations have you had experience with like first time Buyers, seniors downsizing, relocation, power of sales etc..?
5. What separates you from your competition?
Key phrases to listen for: assertive, available by phone or e-mail, analytical, professional, reliable, and able to maintain a good sense of humour under trying circumstances. The most important aspect of your personal choice in a realtor is your feeling of trust, comfort in communications and how compatible you feel towards each other, as you will be required to work through many technical and emotional situations in the oncoming scenarios of listing, presenting and selling your most valuable and personal possession!
6. How do you assist me in finding my new home?
Check this with the sales representatives as some will prefer you to be doing this part of your transaction and search with one of their associates in the Brokerage that has more experience or time for this type of Buyer transaction. Depending on your unique situation your listing agent may refer you to an agent in the area to which you are relocating, if this is the best solution under the circumstances. This of course would have to be with your written agreement. Often the listing agent is able to provide the service of helping you buy your next home and if so, this can make a smooth transition as your agent knows what your requirements are at both ends of the move Selling and Buying, therefore is able to better co-ordinate your financial needs, time line requirements and other important factors to ensure the best options for you!
7. Will you help me find other professionals?
The sales representative usually has a good network of trusted, competent professionals that they have had direct or indirect experience with previously or have been referenced by others in their network. The best practice is to give you a choice of at least three competent contacts in the required field of your need and let you follow up on doing your own due diligence in making your own preferred choice. If a sales representative is to receive any type of referral or finders fees from any source you use, this renumeration must be disclosed and agreed upon before hand between you and your representative.
8. How much do you charge?
It may be a good idea to ask what their commission fee is for your reference. Fees will vary with different Brokerages and their sales representatives. These fees can vary sometimes depending on the market, the type of property being sold, the personal circumstances of the Seller and many other factors. Be careful in getting the full understanding of the importance of the commission to be paid to the co-operating Brokerage (the other sales representatives that often brings the Buyers) and the portion of the commision that is paid to the Listing Brokerage. Choosing the cheapest commission rate should not be your only consideration when making your listing representative choice, take time to understand the full process and the pros and cons involved. Make sure the realtor explains how and why the commission rates they offer are set. You often get what you pay for, like in all things, if the agent cannot negotiate the proper commission rate required do you want them negotiating the sale price of your home?
9. What kind of obligation do I have under the Listing contract? What if I am not happy with the arrangement between myself and the Brokerage.
A listing contract is a binding legal agreement for a specified amount of time. There are circumstances that can arise that can cause needed or desired changes to the contract. There are remedies that can usually be found between the parties involved to find a compatable solution. The sales representative should be able to discuss this with you and in the majority of agreements the scenario never arises.
10. What haven’t I asked you that I need to know?
Pay close attention to how the REALTOR® answers this question, because there is always something you need to know--always.