1. Are you a full-time professional Realtor®? How long have you worked full time in real estate? How long have you been representing buyers? What professional designations do you have?
Knowing whether or not your agent practices full time can help you determine potential scheduling conflicts and his or her commitment to your transaction. As with any profession, the number of years a person has been in the business does not necessarily reflect the level of service you can expect, but it is a good starting point for your discussion. The same issue can apply to professional designations.
2. Do you have a personal assistant, team or staff to handle different parts of the purchase? What are their names and how will each of them help me in my transaction? How do I communicate with them?
It is not uncommon for agents who sell a lot of houses to hire people to work with them. They typically work on a referral basis, and, as their businesses grow, they must be able to deliver the same or higher quality service to more people.
You may want to know who on the team will take part in your transaction, and what role each person will play. You may even want to meet the other team members before you decide to work with the team. If you have a question about fees on your closing statement, who would handle that? Who will show up to your closing?
3. Do you have a Website that will provide me with useful information? Can I have your URL address? Who responds to emails and how quickly? What’s your email address?
Many homebuyers prefer to search online for homes because it’s available 24 hours a day and you can do it in the privacy of your own home. By searching your real estate agent’s Website you will get a clear picture of how much work you would be able to accomplish online.
4. Will you show me properties from other companies’ listings?
Some real estate companies do offer their buyers’ agents a higher commission if they are able to sell “in-house” listings. In such circumstances, there can be added incentive to limit the range of homes you are shown. This may impact your home search and how much your buyer agent’s fee will be.
5. Will you represent me or will you represent the seller? May I have that in writing? How will you represent me, and what is the direct benefit of having you represent me?
The goal here is to ascertain to whom the real estate agent has legal fiduciary obligation, which may vary from state to state or even locale to locale. In the past, agents always worked for sellers. Then the listing broker was responsible for paying the agent or sub-agent that brought a suitable buyer for the home. And even though the buyer worked ‘with’ an agent, the agent still represented and owed their fiduciary duty to the seller.