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5 Questions you NEED to ask before hiring an agent

Michael Christie

Michael has had the pleasure of calling Guelph home his entire life...

Michael has had the pleasure of calling Guelph home his entire life...

Oct 1 5 minutes read

Hiring an agent is something that requires thought and preparation because finding the right agent can make all the difference when it comes to selling your home.

With so many agents out there, how do you decide who to choose? By asking the right questions.

Referrals are the single best way to narrow down the search. There’s a lot to be said for having someone you know and trust weigh in with a personal experience. Then once you have a shortlist, you need to start asking questions.

The most important attributes in an agent are honesty, market knowledge, strong communication and negotiating skills. While there are many questions you can ask to determine whether an agent has these qualities, here are 5 that you absolutely need to ask before hiring an agent.

No. 1: What’s your experience and education?

An agent doesn’t need a ton of experience to be good, particularly if they have a strong support network to lean on and good training, but experience can go a long way toward smoothing out the home-selling bumps that come up along the way.

Part of that is asking how long the agent has been selling in your neighbourhood, to get a sense of their familiarity with it. And part of it is market knowledge to have a good idea of how a home will fare on the market.

Take the time to learn about the types of properties they typically work with, how many homes they helped buy or sell in the past year and whether they have any additional expertise or skills.

Along with that, it’s a good idea to ask what they feel separates them from their competition.

No. 2: How will you market my home?

Good agents will have a strong, proven plan to sell your home and will be able to spell it out for you. Some things it could include are advertising, a broad social media presence, professional photography and staging of your home where necessary, open houses and agent walkthroughs. You should feel reassured that the proposed marketing plan will help your home stand out and maximize its exposure.

They should also be able to provide a comparative market assessment, to help understand where your home fits in the marketplace.

No. 3: What is your fee?

Real estate commissions are negotiable but be wary of an agent who will give up too much too easily. As with most things, the cheapest deal is not necessarily the best deal and top agents typically will not budge on what they charge.

Commissions can be a flat fee, a percentage of the sale price or a combination of both, all subject to agreement between you and the brokerage. And the commission may not include other things such as advertising, staging and photography.

No. 4: Will you provide references?

Everyone has references, even from previous employers if they’re new to real estate. Ask for them and ask if any of those references are related to the agent. The references provided should be ones you can call with additional questions.

Keep in mind that if an agent has a lot of online reviews, you may not need references.

No. 5: What’s in the fine print?

This speaks to a few things. First, it’s related to the contract you will sign with the agent. Make sure the agent spells out all the details, like what happens if you’re unhappy with the arrangement. Can you cancel? It should also spell out all services that are included.

It’s also important to know whether they work on their own or as part of a team. If they’re part of a team, that can increase the amount of time available to work with you, but it might also mean the person you are meeting with is not the person that will serve as your day-to-day contact. To avoid disappointment, it’s important to have clear lines of communication and share your expectations.

And communication is key. Will the agent provide updates regularly or will it be on an as-needed basis? Will they contact you via phone, email, text message or otherwise? What hours do they keep? Are they accessible early in the morning, in the evening or on weekends? You may have your own expectations about how communications will flow between you, so be up front about them.

Remember, while you’re sizing up an agent, they should also be sizing you up as a potential client. Determining whether you are a good fit works both ways. Be wary of agents who don't also ask you questions. You wouldn't work with just any agent, and good agents are just as selective about their clients.

Ultimately, you’ll need to ask yourself if you feel comfortable with the agent. Selling your home is a big step and you want the guidance of someone you feel you can trust.

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