The real estate market has its fair of challenges despite its hyped lucrative outlook. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, gaining insight into the market requires you to be inquisitive and read between the lines.
As a consumer, it is advisable to interview your real estate agent before engaging them through a contract. This gives you a chance to settle on the most credible person who is in a position to deliver what you desire and deserve, while still giving you value for your money.
Many consumers, however, are at a loss on how to interview a potential real estate agent. The four questions that can help you settle for a reliable and honest agent are;
1- How long have you been in operation as an agent?
This question is meant to gauge the agent’s experience on the overall. Essentially, an agent who has been in the business for long enough will have a fair share of success and challenges to share, and this will come out quite early in your conversation. However, this should not put you off dealing with newer agents. Whereas experienced agents will have learned the rules of the game and be ready to break some, newer agents are likely to concentrate on your task, even more, to make sure they win referrals and give you value for your money. In that case, other filtering techniques can be used to gauge the commitment, trust, and reliability of the agent.
2- What’s your portfolio?
To some extent, this question is tied to the work experience of the agent. However, when asked on its own, it gives the client and the agent an opportunity to go through some of the properties that the agent has handled over time. For a good agent with a remarkable record, this should be an opportunity for them to “boast” over their achievements. As a client, you gain confidence in the agent if he has a proven record of satisfying customers with similar needs.
Understanding the portfolio of your client helps you to know his ability to meet your needs. For instance, an agent who is well versed with property for business might not be the best to help you when looking for a home. This, however, does not mean that he cannot give you important leads or insights.
3- What costs do I expect to incur?
The importance of estimating cost is to ensure that every coin spent is within your budget. One of the most discouraging tendencies by agents in real estate is the failure to inform a client of all the costs involved in a deal including taxes and other attached costs. The downside of it is that you end up spending more than you had budgeted for. This can be eliminated if all the costs are laid on the table as part of the discussions.
Discussions on costs also include other elements such as insurance, renovations, etc. These are details that might not be reflected in the contract but end up being expensive in the long run. Nonetheless, setting aside an extra coin for miscellaneous expenses including fuel costs, meals among others, ensure that you stay within acceptable limits of your budget.
4- Anything else I need to know?
Regardless of how best you feel you might have understood your agent’s perspective, give them room to fill in any important information they might be holding back. Remember that all along, the agent might have been responding to your questions as a matter of routine have come across them severally from other clients. When you give them an opportunity to fill you in with some extra information, they have an opportunity to give an insight or a personal observation on the deal. This gives you a good opportunity to gauge the whole engagement.
Importantly, the conversation between you and the agent should be warm, friendly and professional. Whether you agree on a deal or not, the agent should give you the impression that the type of property you are looking for can be found. At the same time, look for elements of consistency in the information provided by the agent and walk away at the slightest hint of dishonesty.