Buying a home is not the same as selling a home. The process is different, the feelings you experience are difference, and the emotions are different. Since buying a home is different than selling a home, it’s obvious that the qualities you should look for when hiring a real estate agent are going to be different as well.
Real estate agents who represent buyers are commonly known as a buyers agent. Real estate agents who represent sellers are commonly known as a listing agent. Knowing how to interview a buyers agent is extremely important and it is no different than selecting a real estate agent to serve as your buyers agent.
In most real estate markets there will be a much higher percentage of buyers agents than there will be listing agents. The 80/20 rule is also in effect with buyers agents just like it is with listing agents. If you are unfamiliar with the 80/20 rule, it’s simple. 80% of the buyers will be represented by 20% of the buyers agents in the market. In some communities, believe it or not, this ratio is even higher.
How can you be sure when buying a home, whether it’s the first or tenth home you buy, that you will be represented by a Realtor who falls in the 20% group? There are no guarantees, however, by correctly interviewing Realtors when buying a home, you have a greater probability of hiring a great buyers agent. The process and many of the questions will be similar when interviewing a listing agent and a buyers agent, however, there are also some things that will be different when interviewing a buyers agent to represent you during your home purchase.
By following the below tips and common questions when interviewing a Realtor to represent you as a buyers agent and your experience will be an enjoyable one!
Mortgage and Financing
Mortgage and financing is a very popular subject when buying a home, especially for the first time. When interviewing a buyers agent, this is a good question to consider asking. The responses that will be received will vary, however, a great real estate agent will answer this question with a resounding “yes.” It’s critical that when buying a home, a buyer needs to get a pre-approval letter prior to looking at homes.
A buyers agent who shows dozens of houses before getting a buyer pre-approved (or at the very least, pre-qualified) is doing a huge disservice to that buyer. It’s important that a potential buyer has a strong grasp on the type of financing they qualify for and the amount they qualify for and bottom line, if they are able to purchase a home at that specific time. This can help eliminate disappointment, heartbreak, and also save the a buyer lots of time!
A great buyers agent will have several contacts in the mortgage industry whom they can recommend to you. Just like all real estate agents are not created equally, all mortgage companies and consultants are not created equally. It can greatly improve the probability of a smooth real estate purchase when utilizing a great buyers agents recommendation, as they know how one another work and what quality of service is to be expected.
In addition to recommendations for mortgage lenders, another thing to consider asking a potential buyers agent is about different professionals they can recommend. When buying a home you will likely need an attorney, a home inspector, insurance carrier, and other professionals, in addition to the mortgage lender. Ask the potential buyers agent if they have a list of professionals they can provide to you.
Real Estate Experience
This question is one that cannot be missed. Experience in the real estate industry is important. The longer a real estate agent has been selling real estate, the more transactions they have likely completed. It’s not impossible, however, that a real estate agent who has been in the business for two or three years and has done enough transactions to fall into that 20% group!
When buying a home, it can be a time consuming process. As a buyer you have a job, family, and other responsibilities. It’s important that your buyers agent is available when it’s convenient for you. A part-time real estate agent may not be able to offer enough availability to do so. If the best time to view potential homes is at 1:00PM on weekdays then that is when your buyers agent should setup the appointments. A part-timer may not be able to due to another job or responsibility.
Real Estate Track-Record
As a real estate agent, representing buyers is different than representing sellers, period. There are different “tasks” that a buyers agent is responsible for during the transaction and the same for the sellers agent. It’s important to know how many homes a potential buyers agent sold last year while representing buyers.
One thing that is important to understand when hiring a buyers agent is that they are human beings, like yourself. Buyers agents have families, lives, and schedules and this is one thing that buyers forget sometimes. It’s not a smart decision to seek out a buyers agent who only works with one buyer at a time. This likely means they don’t have a strong history of sales.
This being said, knowing how many buyers they actively work with is an important question. A great buyers agent should be able to make you feel like you are their only client. A great buyers agent will be able to juggle several buyers at a time due to their organization and efficiency.
There are some buyers who believe that real estate agents would prefer to only have to show a couple houses to their buyers before they purchase a home. This is true. In most cases, a great buyers agent will only have to show 5-10 houses to their clients.
Why is this? A great buyers agent will be able to identify their clients wants, needs, and preferences. Sometimes this is able to be done with a simple face-to-face meeting and sometimes after looking at a couple houses. A real estate agent who shows 25 houses to you without narrowing down and being able to identify what you are looking for is wasting not only their time but also yours.
Each village, town, and city will have their own property values as well as real estate “trends.” In most communities there are some areas that houses are listed and sold within a week of being listed and others that take a couple months. A buyers agent should be able to advise you on what property values and market trends you should expect from your target areas.
Additionally, they should be able to help point you in the right directions to help you determine which neighborhoods are the right place for you to purchase a home.
Past Client Satisfaction
Every buyers agent should be able to provide a handful of testimonials to you, period. As for contact information of past clients, this is not always possible. It still is a good question to ask a potential buyers agent though when interviewing! If you are able to obtain contact information of a past client of the buyers agent, make sure you do not waste the opportunity to pick up the phone or e-mail that person for their opinion of the potential agent.
Agreements and Requirements
Many buyers aren’t aware that contracts even exist for buyers. They do, however, they are not enforced or practiced that frequently. Many of the top producing buyers agents will choose not to utilize a contract with their client because they know they will provide great service and not have to worry about losing their client.
Another primary reason why buyers agents don’t utilize contracts is because they are very difficult to enforce, should a buyer break an agreement. Often a real estate agent will spend thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to recoup their commission, thus not making it worth their time or money.
Technologies and Communication
You maybe asking yourself, Why is a website important for a buyers agent to have? Simple. A website is hopefully a great place to learn about not only the potential buyers agent but also about the local neighborhoods, schools, and also find some helpful testimonials.
Real estate agents love to share their knowledge and expertise. A real estate blog is a great venue to share their wealth of knowledge. Ask potential buyers agents if they have a blog or an example of article they have written. If they provide you a URL for their real estate blog, be sure to check it out. What types of articles have they written geared specifically towards buyers? Have they written articles giving advice for first time buyers? General home improvement articles?
A great buyers agent will have a system or questionnaire in place to determine what homes may match your wants and needs. You should expect a great buyers agent to ask about your price range, desired square footage, number of bedrooms, type of heating system, and other specific questions. This will allow them to determine what homes may be a great fit.
This is a critical question to ask a buyers agent. Do they send just the address of the potential home? Do they send information? You should expect a great buyers agent to send lots of detailed information and photos about the possible homes.
One of the biggest complaints that buyers have when it comes to their real estate agent, refers to communication. Whether it is lack of communication or the method, this is an important question to ask. If you prefer to have your buyers agent text message you, it is critical to find out if the potential buyers agent text messages or not. The same can be said for e-mailing as well.
If your desired communication method is not one that is mentioned by the buyers agent, it could potentially lead to issues down the road.
Other Miscellaneous Interview Questions
Inspections are a very common contingency in contracts when buying a home. A great question to ask a potential buyers agent is whether or not they attend their inspections. There are some buyers agents who will attend and some who will not. Most top producing agents will agree that attending inspections is important, for many reasons.
Many real estate transactions do not make it past the inspection stage. This is for a variety of reasons. You should expect that in addition to recommending quality home inspectors, the agent should be able to present the inspection report and requests in a way the seller understands the validity of the requests.
Hiring a great buyers agent is critical when buying a home. The process of buying a home can seem like a monumental task, but it isn’t, with the right representation! The above questions are some very good questions to think about asking. By doing so, you should be on your way to successfully selecting a great buyers agent for your home buying needs!