How to Interview a Realtor With Great Questions

by Bill Gassett on September 30, 2010 · 14 comments

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How to Interview a Realtor With Great Questions

Realtor interview Questions

Real Estate interview questions for Realtors

Carefully interviewing a Realtor should be one of the most important things any home seller does when considering selling their home yet many do not.

Having been in this business for almost twenty seven years I have found this to be pretty fascinating. There are lots of folks that will make contact with a Realtor from any number of sources including seeing a for sale sign in their neighborhood, visiting an open house, getting a post card in the mail or maybe even from a recommendation from a friend or relative.

One of the problems I have found is that many consumers think that all Realtors do the same things to sell homes. This could not be further from the truth!

In most businesses 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. The old 80/20 rule. In Real Estate it is a mind boggling 94% to 6% ratio! That is just an amazing statistic. Given these figures is there any wonder why there is so much dissatisfaction from consumers? It is really easy to get stuck with a Realtor who does not do much business or have a great work ethic.

Unfortunately getting into the Real Estate industry is very easy. Take and pass a Real Estate test and you have made it. It shouldn’t be that easy but that’s the way it works.

So how do you avoid getting stuck with a poor Real Estate agent? Ask great Real Estate interview questions! Trust me when I tell you, these questions will make an unskilled Realtor very uncomfortable.

There is no better recommendation than a track record of success. As a home seller you will be paying a Realtor quite a bit of money to sell your home. Why not work with a top producing agent? There is a reason most agents continue to be successful year after year.

In most circumstances it does not cost you anymore to work with a terrific agent than someone who does very little Real Estate business. The interview questions below will go a long way in determining whether you are hiring a pro or not! If you are selling a Massachusetts home it is imperative that you ask the right questions so you don’t get caught with an under performing Realtor. See these interview questions below along with additional real estate interview questions here.

Time in the Real Estate business and production level

  • How long have you been selling real estate in Massachusetts?

Experience is important but does not necessarily mean that a newer agent couldn’t be a rising superstar. Many of the other Real Estate interview questions below, however, will help determine this.

  • How many homes did you sell last year as a seller’s agent?

This is a very important question! Do you want to work with an agent who sells 5 homes a year or someone who sells 25? Do be fooled by the agent who does very little business telling you that you will get better personal service. That is a bunch of hogwash! There is a reason why they only sell 5 homes a year.

  • Of the homes you sold last year, again as a seller’s agent, what was the average number of days from the original list price to the accepted offer?

This is a very telling statistic because it speaks to how well the agent did their job from day one when they recommended a list price to you. Don’t get caught with an agent that gives you an inflated value just to get your business. “Buying a listing” is a very common thing that agents do when competing with other Realtors.

  • What was the average ratio between the listing price and the selling price?

This question boils down to two things. Pricing the home correctly from day one and the Realtors negotiating skills.

  • What kind of market share do you and your company have?

This is not extremely critical but you should at least be working with someone who has some general knowledge of the area and has sold other local homes in the past.

Personal service to the seller and testimonials

  • Do you have a personal assistant?

Busy Real Estate agents have a hard time doing everything well on their own. When a Realtor invests the money to hire their own staff member you know they care about personal service. A Realtor can’t be in two places at once. A helping hand and good team work says a lot about a skilled agent.

  • Can you provide me with at least 3 recent references?

A good Realtor should be able to provide you with references that you can call. Of course every Realtor is going to want to give you a hand picked list that they know the client will say wonderful things. Instead ask them for the last three homes they sold and look up the owners names and call them. This will give you a better picture of the clients satisfaction level.

Internet marketing and advertising

Realtor interview questions Massachusetts

  • I have read the Internet is an extremely valuable tool for selling homes. How will you market my home online?

This quite possible may be one of the most important questions you ask the Realtor! You want to align yourself with a Realtor that has a strong understanding of both online and social media marketing. Over 90% of all buyers find their home online. The Realtor you choose should be marketing your home EVERYWHERE!

  • Do you have your own personal Real Estate website for marketing homes and if so does it come up in competitive Real Estate searches such as State, City and the worlds Real Estate or homes?

This is a very important consideration when hiring a Realtor. A great agent will invest in having a great website that not only looks fantastic but more importantly attracts buyers for local Real Estate searches. Most consumers will type things like the city, state, and the words Real Estate or homes for sale. As an example Hopkinton MA Real Estate.

You want your home in the spotlight which can be achieved when the agent you hire understands search engine optimization (SEO) and gets their site on the 1st page of Google for keyword searches buyers most often use.

  • Do you have a Massachusetts Real Estate blog to market your clients homes and if so is it ranked highly by Google? Do you use your blog as a marketing tool to drive traffic to my home?

Like a website, Real Estate blogs are great vehicles to promote properties. You can create entire blog articles about a single home that promotes their best attributes using multiple photos and descriptions.

  • Do you use social media marketing sites such as Facebook and Twitter to reach a wider net of Realtors and potential clients?

Sites like Facebook and Twitter are becoming remarkable tools for a Realtor to use to cast a wider net to reach potential buyers and sellers. With Facebook you can have your own business page to promote your business including properties you may be marketing.

  • Do you use video and virtual tours to market your homes?

Video is another important medium that has really caught on in recent years. Buyers love to see a video tour of a home they may be interested in viewing. A video tour can be especially helpful to a relocation buyer. The tour used be the agent should be quick to download. Another consideration would be syndicating the video tour to Youtube which gets quite a bit of traffic.

  • Is my home “enhanced” on the most visited Real Estate websites such as Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Zillow.com?

This is an extremely important interview question. Real Estate marketing is all about presentation and standing out from the rest of the competition. It is not enough just to be included in the most visible Real Estate sites.

The agent should be presenting your home with numerous photos, detailed descriptions highlighting your homes best attributes, and an embeddable virtual tour. Survey after survey says that buyers looking online skip the homes with a couple of photos and no descriptions. This is a huge piece of the marketing! Make sure the agent shows you exactly what your home will look like online. It is obvious that many sellers do not check on their agent. Trust me folks, you would be flabbergasted if you knew what a poor job some Realtors do marketing homes.

  • Do you have a good camera?

Not only is having lots of photos important but the quality can not be overlooked. You should be looking for an agent that has a good camera with a wide angle lense.

Preparing and staging a home for sale

  • Can you show me how to make my home more marketable?

A Realtor should be able to give you some simple advice on how best prepare your home for the market.  Things like whether or not it would be worthwhile to make an improvement or properly staging a home for sale. The general rule on improvements is to make them when they are really going to enhance the saleability or give a large return on investment.

Communication and feedback throughout the home sale process

Massachusetts Real Estate transactions

  • When a buyer calls on my home will you ALWAYS be the one they speak with?

It makes sense that the Realtor you hire is the one who speaks with the buyer when an inquiry is made. At many Real Estate offices this is not always the case. Often times there is an agent who answers the phone and they get the lead. This is not ideal if the agent has never seen the home before and the buyer is asking specific questions about the property.

  • How will you communicate with me regarding your efforts?

One of the biggest complaints against Realtors is a lack of communication. You will want to nail down how the Realtor will keep in contact with you. It it by phone, email, text? A Realtor should be flexible and work however the client desires. Above all else there should be regular communication. See Realtor communication skills.

  • Do you have a feedback system and if so, how does it work?

Anyone that I know that has ever sold a home wants to know how the showings go. The Realtor you hire should be prepared to call the buyers agent after the showing to find out what the level of interest there is and the buyers general thoughts.

  • How readily accessible will you be? Do you have a cell phone that I can reach you on when I need to?

Real Estate is a business that people should be able to reach the person they hired to sell their home. A Realtor who has a phone that can receive email is a real plus.  You want to make sure your agent will be taking your calls as they come in. For some reason many agents never answer their phone. This is not a good sign!

  • Once the offer is accepted will you be attending all the inspections on my home?

A full service Realtor should be at the home inspection, bank appraisal, etc. You are paying this person a lot of money. Make sure they earn it! They are your fiduciary.

  • How will you verify that the buyer is qualified to buy my home?

The Realtor should be verifying the the buyer is qualified by making sure that there is a legitimate pre-approval letter accompanying the offer and speaking with the buyers lender.

  • What are your fee structures and why?

The Realtor should be making sure they explain to you how they get paid and what exactly they do for the money earned.

  • As far as production goes if I called the owner of your company would they tell me you were one of the top producing agents in the company or a middle of the road agent?

In life you get what you pay for. Why not hire the best if it costs you the same!

  • Will you allow me to terminate our contract if I am not completely satisfied?

This is an important question because a Realtor that is confident they will get the job done should have no problem with this clause.

There are some truly great Real Estate agents out there. It just takes a little bit of time and effort to find them. Don’t settle for any Realtor that walks through your door or you will end up disappointed.

Related Real Estate articles:

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on how to interview a Realtor with great questions was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out ofmany Metrowest towns for the last 24+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Upton, Mendon, Hopedale, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, and Douglas.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray Roman September 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Bill,

The last question regarding termination of contract is one we live by. Holding a client hostage who doesn’t want to work with you because you are not doing a good job is simply marketing suicide.

We are not shy about emphasizing our easy exit agreement and we put it in writing with a 100% Seller Satisfaction Guarantee. Clients love it.

Again an extremely valuable and informative article.

Thanks
Ray

Teri Eckholm September 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm

It is so hard to have to deal with that “awkward” phone call from someone who is listed with another agent but is now unhappy with the service being provided. Often these sellers did not interview several agents but went with a friend or signed a contract with the first agent they met with.

Not all agents are created equal and finding the one that will work best with you does take an interview….after all the seller is “hiring” us to sell their home. Job interviews do come with questions.

Good list here Bill!

Bill Gassett September 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Ray – We have the same line of thinking. I can never understand a Realtor that tries to hold an unhappy client into a contract. All that does is create hard feelings and will cause the client to speak negatively to all their friends about the Realtor!

Teri – I have received numerous calls over the years from seller’s that have had a bad experience with a previous Real Estate agent. As you know, it is not hard to get stuck with a poor agent if you don’t do your research.

Lisa Udy September 30, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Hi Bill!
WOW!!! This is such a great blog. Superb information and a ton of it! It’s so sad when you hear stories about Realtor’s not living up to client expectations. If they would ask just half of these questions, do some research, and interview a couple agents before choosing one, everyone would be in a much better place with their real estate transactions. :)

Bill Gassett October 3, 2010 at 11:57 am

Lisa thanks for your compliments on the Realtor interview questions. As a Realtor working in the field I know you realize that these questions would go a long way in determining if the Realtor being interviewed is a good choice!

Jeff Belonger October 5, 2010 at 3:15 am

Bill,
As you know, I am not a realtor, but you did a good job with this one. So many things that a seller should think about when deciding on what realtor is going to help them sell their home. nice job ~ Jeff

Bill Gassett October 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Thanks Jeff! The Realtor interview questions are really designed to get a home seller thinking about what is truly important. A Realtors personality is important but should not be the only criteria used in selecting one. Every seller should also avoid falling into the trap of listing with the agent that gives them the highest value for their home. Rarely does that ever work out!

Bill Petrey January 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Bill:
It’s also important to find out how many houses that agent sold in the homeowner’s neighborhood, and rather than ask for references, I’d ask for a list of houses the agent sold in my neighborhood and call those clients instead. That way, I can find out how the agent behaved selling houses in my neighborhood and price range. With some agents, professionalism increases at the same rate as their commission check. And service levels decrease the farther the client is located away from the agent’s office.

Besides, being a former IT manager, current landlord and constant skeptic, I can honestly say I’ve never received a bad reference from any employee or tenant candidate.

Bill Petrey

Kirk Friesen January 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm

The article is good but is written with so much Franchise business model bias it is almost sick. What so many Realtors and Franchises don’t want to admit is that at the end of the day if your home is priced right it will sell and someone will find it, and if it’s not priced right it will be continually passed over time and time again on every website out there.
If you are a member of the National Association of Realtors, your listings are syndicated everywhere….no matter what. Just adding a listing to the MLS gives you 95-99% internet exposure.
Internet marketing is no longer a tool to sell homes, it is a tool to find the buyers before your competition does. Buyers are the new currency in Real Estate, now obviously you still need listings to capture those buyers….but i’d take 30 buyers any day over 50 sellers (who aren’t re-buying of course!).
The questions should be
1. Do you cooperate at a competitive commission rate, so that my home will be shown by other agents.
2. What is this going to cost me?

Everything else is secondary. If a home is priced for fair market value – it will sell, if it’s not – it won’t.

Bill Gassett January 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Kirk I always say that setting the right price is 80% of the marketing but I would completely disagree with you that the agent a consumer hires is not important and just putting it in MLS is all it takes.

If that logic held true then there would be a much higher success rate for the folks who go the for sale by owner route or with the “entry into MLS only brokers”.

Both of those methods are terribly inadequate and unsuccessful the majority of the time regardless if the home is priced right or not.

While every home gets syndicated into many of the top sites people visit online there is a HUGE difference when a Realtor goes in and adds lots of photos, detailed descriptions, a video tour, etc!

Today you need to separate your listings from the competition. I know my clients homes stand out from other because I take the necessary time to do a great job marketing them.

Pricing is incredibly important for sure! The greatest Realtor in the world will have a difficult time selling an overpriced property. Thanks for your comments.

Jay Groccia August 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Do you have a good camera?

Seriously? That’s like asking a carpenter, “Do you have a good hammer?” or a surgeon, “Do you have a good scalpel?”

The actual camera used isn’t as important as the skill of the photographer and his/her LIGHTING equipment. The most expensive camera in the world does not have the dynamic render the light coming in a window and the dark areas of the room. This is why real estate photos typically show dark and dreary rooms with properly exposed windows or properly exposed interiors with ‘atom bomb’ windows and lens flare. It takes skill to adds supplemental light to a room so everything is balanced between the interior and window light without harsh shadows and flash balls in reflective surfaces. ANY camera with a built-in flash will not render proper results.

Quality interior photography is a job best left to seasoned professionals.

The question is ridiculous on its face. The very best agents ALWAYS use professional, architectural photographers. Revlon has never used an ugly woman in an advertisement, heck they never even use ‘average’ women in their ads.

NAR reports that nearly 100% of buyers reported that the first exposure they had to the home they purchased was ONLINE. Every penny of the budget to market a home should go into a compelling online presentation and that means photos – the very best that you can get. Anything less simply hobbles your sales efforts. It makes less than zero sense to make your listing look anything less than perfect and amateur photos do just that.

Buyers want to be blown away – they’re looking for homes that reflect the images they see in magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, Dwell, Country Living, Architectural Digest, and yes, even modest homes benefit from excellent photography.

Any agent that says, “I can’t afford good photography” is either lying or uninformed.

Bill Gassett August 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Jay while I agree with you that a professional is going to take better pictures than the average Joe, I think your analogy is way off base. There are millions of people that own cameras and use them on a daily basis. Shooting a picture is a lot different that operating on someone or building a deck. There is certainly going to be a difference in picture quality if you have an outdated model, no wide angle lens, etc.

Your analogy would be like me saying that I could cut a steak better than you could with a butter knife even though you had a steak knive. I agree 100 that the quality of photography is super important and a Realtor should be making every effort to produce the best pictures possible.

Brad Yzermans November 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Holy Cow Bill, what a list! I need to share this with my buyers. How do you suggest buyers get proof of what the agent tells them in regards to how many homes they sold and the difference in list price to sales price….and other factual data like that?

Bill Gassett November 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Thanks Brad on the compliments on the interview questions for Realtors. I think most MLS systems allow for you to get that kind of information. A realtor should be able to provide it pretty easily. Of course most Realtors are not going to want to give out that kind of info unless it looks great!

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