How to Pick A Real Estate Agent? A Few Tips and Tricks

Picking a good real estate agent is key to a successful transaction. Don’t settle for the first real estate agent you meet. Whether you've found your agent with Zenmatch or elsewhere - it’s best practice to take the time to interview a few agents before choosing. Tell them that you’re in the process of interviewing multiple agents, so that they know what to expect.

Interviewing multiple agents is crucial, as it also gives you the opportunity to better understand your own requirements.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask any agent you interview, before making your decision. We highly suggest you meet each agent you’re considering at least once in person before deciding on whom to work with. A phone call can work, but our past work with clients just like you has shown a positive correlation between those clients and agents who met in person, and those who ultimately found a great match. The meeting can be at the agent’s office or your home.

Good luck!

1. What’s your education and what’s your background in real estate?

We are fully supportive of people who are just starting out in a profession, looking to gain valuable real-world experience, however in our experience the best agents usually have lots of experience.

You may also want to ask what kind of courses and/or seminars the agent has taken to improve their skills.  An agent, who has shown an eagerness to learn in as many ways as possible, will surely show the same dedication to you.

2. How are you different from other agents you compete with?

Top agents should be able to easily tell you what differentiates them from their competition.  It can be any number of things, from their network, their ‘secret’ ways to market a property, or that they have the most wonderful in-house photographer.

3. How familiar are you with the neighbourhood I’m selling (or interested in buying) in?

If you’re selling, an agent with local expertise can help you better market your home, such as by knowing what buyers in your neighbourhood are looking for, what the trends in prices are like, and what your competition (in terms of other close-by properties for sale) is like.

If you’re buying, a great agent can help you decide between two houses which might seem similar, but which have real differences (like whether they’re close to schools or supermarkets).  (S)he can also help you negotiate by providing insight on what other similar properties are currently selling for.

4. How will you help me find the other professionals I’ll need during this process?

Good agents have extensive networks of professionals – from home inspectors to mortgage brokers to stagers to movers – that they can usually recommend. 

5. Who pays for the various services I’ll need?

Some agents offer to pay for certain services (e.g., stagers, photographers), while others don’t.

6. What is your average list-price-to-sales-price ratio?

A great listing (also known as a seller’s) agent should be able to sell homes for as close to 100% of the list price as possible.  On the other hand, top buying agents are able to negotiate a sales price that’s lower than the listed price.

7. Do you work solo or as part of a team, and if you work as part of a team, what can you tell me about the other person (or people) who will be working on my property?

There’s nothing worse than a bad surprise! Imagine you start to really like an agent but then they’re not the one who ends up spending the most time with you helping you buy or sell your home.  Clarify if the agent will work with a team, and if so, ask to meet the team member(s) who will be assigned to you, and then ask them many of these same questions.

8. Would you please go over the documents that I’ll have to sign with me, before I sign them?

As the old expression goes, "the devil is in the details"  Carefully review any documents, such as the agent’s agreement.  What commission do they want? Is the agreement exclusive or non-exclusive? Always read the fine print!

9. If you’re selling, ask: How will you market my home?

Great agents go the extra mile to help their clients sell their homes for a good price. You should clarify exactly what kinds of efforts the agent will make to sell your home. Will they do an open house? Where will they advertise (e.g., online, newspapers), and how often? What kind of help do they provide with staging and with photography? Can you see samples of photos from other homes they’ve listed? How else will they help market your home?

10. What’s your communication style? How often, and through what medium, will you keep me informed?

Good, open, honest, and frequent communication can be a key ingredient to a great working relationship.   Find out how often the agent will update you. Will they contact you by email, phone, text message, or some other way? What time of the day will they typically try to reach you, and what hours of the day can you typically reach them?

11. Would you kindly provide some recent references I can speak with?

It’s always a good idea to speak with former (and current) clients of an agent you’re considering.  Some very experienced agents may have lots of clients reviews on their websites, so it’s possible after reading those you won’t feel the need to call other clients in order to make your decision of if to go with that agent, however speaking with other clients can still help you know how to properly work with that agent. Although references will always be positive, you can still learn a lot about them by understanding what their strong points are. For example, did the reference praise their work ethic, personality, local expertise, or speed of the transaction? These are all valuable aspects that may be important to you.

12. What else would you like me to know about working with you?

This is an important question to ask for two reasons. First, it’s a good way to see how experienced the agent is, because they more experience they have, the more they will have to say when you ask them this question.  Second, it’s also a good way to see how patient (or in a rush) the agent is – you want an agent who actually enjoys spending time with you.

13. Other tips and suggestions:

Be clear about what you want. Make sure you are upfront about your budget, what type of property you are looking for, in which neighborhoods, and so forth. Even the best agents will rely on their clients’ honesty about their needs and wants. If you disagree with an agent you’re screening, do voice your opinion immediately. This will help both parties make the most of the relationship – in other words, help the agent help you.

Did the agent ask you questions too?  Believe it or not, our research has shown that agents who rush to sign clients without asking them too many questions is a bad sign.  It usually means they don’t really care about you, what your motivations are, or whether they’re really a good fit to help with your unique property situation. Instead, they probably just view you as any random customer. 

What is the overall ‘professionalism’ of the agent? How are they dressed? How respectful and polite are they? Are they good listeners?

Avoid ‘hiring’ a friend or relative.  If your friend or relative happens to be the best agent for your neighborhood, property type, or selected budget, it might work out. Otherwise, working with friends or relatives isn’t typically a good idea. Your friend or relative might not know your desired neighborhood very well, or might not be used to working with houses in your selected price range. This may cause issues, and decrease your chances of finding your ideal home. Furthermore, someone close to you might already have a preconceived notion of what you should be looking for even if in reality you want something different. They could be less likely to listen to your needs and may not dedicate as much time to your search knowing that you’ll be understanding to them prioritizing other clients instead. This can easily result in tension, affecting not only your search process but also your personal relationship.

Working with a top real estate agent is a key factor in completing a successful transaction - whether you're buying or selling a property. We hope that these tips will help you select your ideal agent. Don't hesitate to drop us a line if you need help picking an agent.

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