There’s a lot to choose from when you’re deciding on a real estate agent. You’ll need to consider a lot of factors such as experience, quality of work, cost, and overall reputation. There’s not a one size fits all agent. Whether you’re on the hunt for a listing agent or a buying agent, you’ll need to do your homework in order to find the best real estate agent for you.
In this article, I’m going to go over what factors you need to consider when interviewing real estate agents, as well as answer some frequently asked questions you may have!
How Many Real Estate Agents Should I Interview?
When deciding on a buying or listing agent, you’ll want to interview multiple agents before you commit. In general, it is best to interview 4-6 real estate agents before finalizing your decision.
Buying or selling a house is a big move that involves a lot of time and money, so choosing the right agent to handle the process for you is super important! Sifting through 4 to 6 different agents can make all the difference and save you time and prevent you from wasting funds.
When you interview only one agent, you risk being won over by great marketing instead of great skill.
Don’t let yourself be fooled by marketing tactics and charisma. Just because an agent has made a name for themselves and has plenty of ads to show for it, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good at what they do. Never choose an agent just because they are popular.
The top 5 things you should research when choosing an agent:
- Get to know the local real estate market and if it is competitive
- Review transaction history for each agent to know where they work and how
- Search Your Realtor’s Online Listings
- Look for Their Realtor’s License
- Check Their Credentials
For a more in depth guide to researching real estate agents, see our blog post on the 8 Steps to Choose the Best Realtor.
People often find one person who stands out among the rest early in their research. They’ll get excited, book an interview, then close the deal. I cannot recommend enough that you pursue additional agents before making a commitment.
What to Look For in a Real Estate Agent
While researching your agent is very important, there are some qualities that you may not see until you meet in person or talk on the phone. Be as picky during real estate agent interviews as you would on a first date. Mark up a list of questions and take notes as you receive answers. The agents you speak with may have all the right things to say, but sometimes it’s HOW they say it that can tell you what you need to know.
Here’s some very valuable traits to look out for when conducting an interview with a potential agent:
Responsiveness: How long does it take for this agent to respond to your messages?
Communication Skills: What methods of communication do they prefer? How often can you expect to hear from them?
Unique Buying/Selling Tactics: What tricks does this agent have up their sleeve that can help me?
Flexibility: Will this agent accommodate your requests? Are they flexible about their commission rate?
Personality: Is this the kind of person that you would enjoy doing business with?
Take notes and compare with other agents you’re taking into consideration. If you only speak to one agent and commit to working with them, you’re missing out on other agents that could be better matched with your specific needs. Remember, this is your time and money, there’s no need to rush into things!
Comparing Realtor’s Commission Rates
Realtors and real estate agents are paid based on an average 5.46% commission rate of the final sale. For example, If you sold a house for $100,000, your realtor would end up taking home about $5,000 to $6,000.
This commission is then split between your agent, the opposing buying/selling agent, and the brokerage attached to your home’s sale. This split can result in a 2.73% total of the home’s final selling price. The realtor’s commission does vary state to state and can be dependent on the city the house is located in, as well as the realtor’s own experience.
Considering this is how realtor’s make their money, they are going to try to negotiate the highest rate they can on the final sale of your home. A good agent knows their worth, but also knows to accept a lower commission rate rather than walking away.
This is why interviewing more than one agent is crucial not only to your success, but to keeping more money in your bank account.
Negotiating a Fair Price
If the realtor knows you’re interviewing multiple agents, they may be more inclined to come to an agreement that works best for you, rather than their own self interest. Of course this can be based on the number of clients they are working with at the moment and the years of experience they have.
Agents with less experience may be more likely to negotiate a lower price with you, as they don’t have an ongoing clientele quite yet. This is one of those glass half full, glass half empty situations. This could be a good or a bad thing depending how you look at it. This is why it’s so important to have a selection of agents before committing to one.
In the end, the commission rate you expect to pay should reflect how much you prioritize experience in the agent you want to partner with.
Seeing Differences in Services
Every real estate agent offers unique specialties and has credentials that others do not. Most lay-people do not know the industry enough to understand the value of these special services. In an interview, agents will be glad to explain their specialties to you and show how they can uniquely benefit you.
In your interview, invite your agent to discuss their specialties and ask about these topics:
Having a realtor who can perform your home valuation themselves is beneficial for both buyers and sellers. This will save a lot of hassle for home sellers because you won’t need to outsource this service. For home buyers, it guarantees that your agent adequately understands how to assess a home to understand the difference between the listing price and the price that the home is most likely valued.
Staging homes, Capturing Photography, and Producing Videos
Every agent handles staging homes differently. Some agents will hire specialists to stage your home for sale, others will do it themselves. After your home is staged, you’ll also want high-quality photography to help market your home.
In some cases you may want to utilize drone videos to show your outdoor space as well as
lifestyle videos to show what living in your home would feel like. Inquire with your agents about the services they use for staging homes and making marketing material to help your home sell.
Successful marketing is the key to getting eyes on your home when it’s time to sell. Each agent will use different marketing techniques to attract potential buyers.
Ask your agent how they do marketing for homes and open houses. Ask them to explain what methods of marketing they are most effective in. If they received formal training on how to market with their preferred mediums, that’s a huge plus.
Negotiating is one of the most important skills your agent can possess. Each agent will use different negotiating tactics and some have pursued extra training on the topic. In your interview, ask your agent what they do to facilitate successful negotiation and if they have received formal training in negotiation before.
Types of Real Estate
Not all real estate agents sell homes. Some sell industrial properties, commercial buildings, and undeveloped land. You may begin interviewing an agent only to find that their specialty is not actually in selling residential real estate. This should be a red flag to you to choose another agent to help you sell a home.
Certifications, Licenses, and Other Credentials
Real estate agents need only a few licenses to practice, but there are multitudes of others available for agents who intend to hone their craft. Ask about what other credentials and training your agent possesses and ask them why they chose to acquire it. This will give you a very deep understanding of what makes your agent unique.
Membership with NAR
Agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors are Realtors with a capital R. By being a member, they benefit from a variety of tools and resources that are available through that organization which they’ll use to help you land the best deals in the shortest time. They also benefit from a massive network that they can rely on for the most up-to-date industry knowledge available. Not all great agents are members of the NAR, but many are.
Identifying Modes of Operation
Real estate is an industry that allows for growth only by closing more deals. While experience is necessary, it isn’t the main path of moving up within this industry – it is having an effective, repeatable mode of operation.
It is astonishing to know that in real estate, 6% of agents and agencies manage to make more sales than the rest of the 94%. The biggest things that separate these two groups are the systems they use to market homes and close deals.
When you interview multiple agents, you will be able to identify the agents who are selling using a well-rehearsed strategy. You will also find agents that have a broader perspective and a more comprehensive model of operation.
During the interview, if you want to know if the realtor has a well-rehearsed strategy, ask questions like: “What makes your home selling/buying process more effective than others?”
If you want to know if your agent uses a broad approach with a comprehensive model of operation, ask questions like, “What can we do to uniquely market my home?” or “Considering the market conditions and what we are looking for in a home, what approach do you think will help us buy a home at the best price?”
How do I interview multiple agents?
If you are setting up interviews with multiple agents, you need to know 3 things: how to contact agents, how to conduct an interview, and how to decide which agent to commit to.
How do I contact real estate agents?
The most common way of contacting a real estate agent is by calling them. Many agents are also available through texting or email as well. Their preferred contact methods should be listed on their profile or their website. You can use our directory to find agents, or search them by name and locality in Google.
Realtors can often be inundated with messages from clients and prospects, so it is important to make your initial outreach short and sweet.
Clearly and concisely explain that you are looking for someone to help you to sell a property, buy a property, or both. Include a list of good times when you’ll be available for a phone, zoom, or in-person interview with the agent. Also, include how long you expect the interview to take so that you can both schedule the rest of your days appropriately.
How do I conduct interviews with realtors?
Conducting interviews is more difficult than it seems. To conduct a good interview, you need to identify your priorities, prepare your questions, and take good notes to review later.
Before you conduct your first interview, identify what is most important to you in your next business partner. Consider following:
The kind of commission rate you expect to agree on.
What the highest commission rate is you would agree to.
What intangible qualities do you expect an agent to possess?
Once you’ve identified your priorities, you should prepare a list of questions that you’ll bring to the interview. Your list of questions should adequately cover topics like:
- Preferred communication methods
- How often they will be contacting you
- Marketing Tactics
- Negotiation Skills
- Additional credentials, certifications, and licenses
- Explaining any “red-flags” you noticed in your previous research on this agent
You don’t need to “stick to the script” the whole time. If the agent says something that provokes a new question from you, you should definitely ask it.
Just make sure you are mindful to not go too far over time because your interview may get cut short. For this reason, put your most important questions on the top of your list. Many of your less important questions will likely get answered while the agent addresses your key concerns.
While you conduct the interview, take notes on the agent’s responses so that you can reference them when you decide between your options. If you don’t want to be distracted by notetaking, ask if the agent is comfortable with you recording the interview. Most phones have an easy-to-use feature that lets you record a meeting.
Whether or not you record the meeting, take notes at the end of the interview to note how the real estate agent made you feel during the interview. Did you get along well? Do they make you comfortable? Did they seem confident? Are they the kind of person you would enjoy working with?
Store your notes and recordings somewhere you can find them easily. Once you’ve finished all your interviews, you’ll be glad to have them all organized in one place.
How do I choose the best real estate agent?
There is no easy way to choose between several quality candidates, but there are methods you can use to make it easier.
Make a Pro’s and Con’s List
Making a pro’s and con’s list is an easy way to separate what you like and what you don’t like about each candidate. This makes it easy to visualize how many of your priorities they effectively meet, and how many they underperform in. You can even introduce a point-system and assign points to each pro or con that an agent gets for having a certain quality or credential. This makes choosing a winner significantly easier.
Make a Venn Diagram
Making a Venn diagram works like making a pro’s and con’s list, but it is even more easy to visualize how unique agents are when compared to one another. Be creative in how you make your diagram! It can take a bit of pressure off while you work on making this big decision.
Make it a Tournament
If you’re stuck and you can’t choose who to contract, make a tournament between all the candidates! Here’s how to do it:
Put everyone’s name in a hat, then build a tournament bracket. Pull names out of a hat to decide where everyone starts in the tournament. Once everyone has their placement, decide for yourself who you would prefer to work without of every pair. The winner of that face-off moves up to the next round and the loser is out. This guarantees that you have your ideal candidate selected by the end of the process.
There is no one right option for how to choose your perfect real estate agent, but these methods will make the process a little easier.
FAQ’s for people interviewing multiple agents:
Can You Hire Multiple Realtors?
In short, yes. You can hire as many real estate agents as you want. Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly as many benefits as you’d expect. Most realtors will provide you with their full attention and services, only if you are committed to them.
This means that you’d have to sign a contract with that agent and solely them. The only benefit from having multiple agents is if you are selling your property in one location and buying in a different location. Even in this situation, you should notify the agents to make sure your broker-to-buyer agreement reflects this.
Many realtors have the same tools for finding potential houses for your wants, so having multiple agents will not speed up the process for you.
Do I need an agent to sell a home and a different one to buy a home?
Unless you are moving far away from your current home, no, you do not need two different agents to sell your current home and buy your next one.
Most people will elect to work with the agent who sells their home to help them buy their next home, but if you want to hire a different realtor to help you with the buying or selling transaction you can.
The exception is when you’re moving out of driving distance from your current home. Most agents do some work in person, so they may not be able to accommodate your home purchase and your some sale.
If you choose to hire two real estate agents, just make sure both are informed beforehand to avoid any confusion. This assures you don’t get locked into a contract that is not appropriate for your needs.
Can you switch Real Estate Agents?
Yes, you can change agents, but there can be some consequences. It may not be as simple as firing and hiring a different agent, it will most likely be you reading the contract to find out about the cancellation of services then moving forward.
You do not need to worry about cancellation or fees if you haven’t signed to work solely with that agent. The majority of the time, there will be a cancellation fee that you can pay and possibly other factors or stipulations. Even if you did not like the services provided, it is always best to handle the situation with diplomacy and respect.
The Bottom Line
Top realtors are not hard to spot once you know what to look for.
By researching them online, you will learn a lot about them, but you still need to interview to learn everything you need to know. Interview at least 4 agents to assure that you make the best choice f
or the best price.
You should now be armed with all the information you need to conduct interviews with multiple real estate agents, so go forth and find your perfect match!