I recently went on a listing appointment and the minute I sat down the seller started rapid firing questions at me, questions straight out of the “Questions to Ask a REALTOR when Selling your Home” textbook. While some of the questions were really good, some were bad and some were pretty meaningless.
Below I have complied a list of the most popular “Questions to Ask a REALTOR when Selling your Home” and my professional opinion if it’s a good, bad, or meaningless question. I also included additional questions I recommend asking your prospective Listing Agent during the interview process, one question specifically that I’ve never received before.
“What hours do you work?”
This is an excellent question, but I think a lot of people assume REALTORS work 24-7, so it’s rarely asked. However a majority of REALTORS don’t work 24-7, in fact some work Monday – Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. In addition to finding out what hours your prospective Listing Agent works I also recommend asking who handles their business when they are unavailable. Even if the REALTOR you’re interviewing doesn’t have a vacation planned during your listing period life happens and things out of our control pop up, some of these things might require them to board a plan and fly across the country to attend a funeral. So it’s important to find out if they have someone to take over their business during their absence, if so who that person is.
“What area do you primarily work in?”
This is a really great question and one not every home seller will ask. While a licensed REALTOR in the state of Florida can sell real estate anywhere doesn’t mean they should. A REALTOR who primary works and sells condos downtown West Palm Beach may not be the best REALTOR to sell an equestrian estate in Wellington.
“How often will I hear from you when my home is on the market?”
This is another excellent question, but how many REALTORS are actually going to admit that you’ll never hear from them? My guess is zero, but some Listing Agents do in fact disappear after you sign on the dotted line. So I highly recommend asking them to list specific reasons why they will be contacting you besides receiving an offer on your home. Will they provide you with showing feedback? Will they provide you with market updates, if so daily, weekly or monthly? Will they notify you anytime a home comparable to yours comes onto the market, goes under contract or sells? Will they keep you up to date on neighborhood activity and if it’s a seller’s market, stable market or buyer’s market?
“How many sales did you close last year?”
This is a great subject, but as written can be deceiving and not provide the information you’re actually seeking. Say you interview 4 REALTORS and ask “How many sales did you close last year?” Agent #1 has 80 closed sales, Agent #2 has 50 closed sales, Agent #3 has 30 closed sales and Agent #4 has 5 closed sales.
If you’re looking for quantity you can stop reading here because Agent #1 is the winner, but if you’re looking for quality continue reading because Agent #1 may not be the REALTOR for you.
So you were provided with the number of closed sales, but how were they achieved?
Agent #1 is part of a team and the entire team closed 80 sales.
Agent #2 is a solo Agent and takes on as much business as they can.
Agent #3 is a solo Agent, but only takes on as much business as they can handle and refers the rest to other Agents.
Agent #4 is a solo Agent who’s been in the business for less than a year.
Oftentimes questions like this seem cut and dry because you’re asking for a number, but in reality you have no clue how that number was achieved. Every seller has different needs; some prefer to work with a team, some prefer to work with a single REALTOR and some prefer a new REALTOR who might be able to dedicate a lot of their time and energy to the sale of their home, so ultimately it depends on the type of Listing Agent a seller is looking for.
“What’s your list to sales price ratio?”
This question may seem logical, but what most people fail to realize is the seller decides on the list price and the terms they’re willing to accept, NOT their REALTOR. Sure a great Listing Agent will educate their clients and suggest a list price, but not every seller is going to take their suggestion. So does a REALTORS list to sales price ratio really indicate their negotiating skills? Unless a REALTORS list to sales price ratio is 60%, which clearly indicates something is wrong with the way they run their business I personally think it’s a meaningless question.
In addition to the seller controlling the list to sales price ratio the actual percentage on paper may be deceiving and not tell the full story, here are two examples;
Example 1: A seller accepts a full price offer, but agrees to credit the buyer a $10,000 at closing. On paper the list to sales price ratio would be 100%, but the seller isn’t actually netting 100%.
Example 2: A seller wants to “test” the market and list well above their REALTORS suggested list price. They eventually decide to reduce their list price and have their home re-entered into the MLS at the new price. The home sells for full asking price and once again on paper the list to sales price ratio would be 100%, but would you consider this a full price sale when it was previously listed at a higher price?
“What is your marketing plan for my home?”
This is another great question every seller needs to ask their prospective Listing Agent and in turn should receive a detailed marketing plan for their home. Technically a Listing Agent can say your home will be advertised on 1,000’s of websites, which they wouldn’t be lying if your home is entered into the MLS and automatically syndicated to 1,000’s of websites, but does the prospective Listing Agents marketing plan stop there? Do they pay for any type of advertising? Will they market your home on other real estate websites, social media, newspapers and/or magazines?
“Will you provide me with regular feedback from showings?”
The subject is good and should be addressed, but in my opinion the question itself is vague because there are Listing Agents who actively follow up after each showing requesting feedback and others who do not, but the way the question stands both types of Listing Agents can tell you they will provide feedback if they receive any. A better question would be “Will you follow up after each showing for feedback, if so how many times do you request feedback and what methods do you use to request it; phone, e-mail and/or automated e-mail survey?”
“Do you have advice about the condition of my home and recommendations?”
This is another great question and one I rarely receive, but one I always address. I never want a seller to hear their house is cluttered from a prospective buyer, they will hear it from me first and if they choose to ignore my advice they won’t be surprised when that’s the feedback they receive. So unless your home shows like a model, your REALTOR should have recommendations to improve the appearance.
“What will my closing costs be?”
This is an excellent question because the real estate commission is not the only fee you’ll have to pay when selling your home in Palm Beach County Florida. In addition to the real estate commission most brokerages will charge a processing/admin/transaction fee. You’ll also have to pay for closing fees, lien searches and depending on your contract doc stamps and title insurance, but the list doesn’t end there. Your prospective Listing Agent should be able to provide you with an estimated break down of all your closing fees.
“Can you recommend service people, like a handyman?”
Every REALTOR can recommend a million service people, but should the answer to this question even be a factor when deciding who you’re going to hire to sell your home? I could easily refer 10 painters right now and while one person may be happy with ABC Painting it’s inevitable that another person will not be, this happens all the time.
“Can you provide me with names and phone number of past clients?”
Yes, Yes and Yes! This is such a great question and one most seller’s don’t even ask. In my opinion one of the best ways to learn more about a REALTOR is by reading their online reviews and speaking with their past clients.
Throughout this article I suggested additional “Questions to Ask a REALTOR when Selling your Home,” but there is one more question I highly recommend. While I’ve never been asked this question before I feel it speaks volumes about a REALTOR and the type of service they provide.
How many of your sales in the past year came from past clients or referrals?
Regardless of the industry I have found people who provide outstanding customer service will receive referrals and repeat business without even asking. Think about it, would you refer someone to your friends and family who provided lousy service? Of course not, but if someone provided outstanding service and exceeded your expectations you may just scream that persons name from the rooftops and refer them to everyone you know.
So if you’re interviewing two Listing Agents who’ve been in the industry for the same amount of time and one received zero referrals or repeat clients in the last year while the other received 8 you can almost guarantee the REALTOR who received 8 referrals provides excellent service.
If you are looking to sell your home and are in the process of interviewing Listing Agents I would love the opportunity to meet with you.