Reader Question: I read the agent interview questions to ask real estate agents on the DearMonty website. It would be helpful to understand what answers to look for when agents respond. I am not comfortable I know enough about real estate to know a good answer. Can you help? Mark B.
Monty’s Answer: Your question is insightful. Here are the responses (R) to listen for (in italics) to these website questions:
- What sets you apart from other agents that benefit your customers? R: The expectation they have of themselves for their clients and their perception of how the industry works. They should have examples, such as professional photographs, anecdotes that demonstrate committment, or a certain tactic.
- What kinds of real estate training and continuing education do you receive? R: Their general level of education and education geared toward helping the consumer, such as an appraisal course. Is the company behind them?
- Why is the company support you receive beneficial to your customers? R: Do they understand the value of company support and how it helps you. Can they give you an example?
- What is your position on home inspections and home warranties? R: Inspections are valuable in all transactions, and a home warranty depends on the home’s age, condition, and the coverage.
- What backup support is available when you are out of the office or on vacation? R: How are your interests protected if you cannot reach them, and their reaction to your question. “ I’m here 24-7 ” is not the answer. “Mary Smith and I share a desk and we have a financial arrangement to make sure our clients are covered,” is much better.
- Can you provide the name and telephone number of three references? R: Not a good sign if you cannot talk with their former customers.
- What is your company’s track record for average market time and rate of listings expiring unsold? R: This question creates work for them. Will they respond, and with a MLS generated answer?
- What services, if any, does your company offer that is not provided by your competitors? R: Can they articulate some reason their company stands out? No real answer is a red flag.
- How do you establish your opinion of value for a home? R: Knowledge check. Do they adjust for differences between features of the comparables? Do they find the same style of home, such as a ranch if the subject property is a ranch?
- How do you find your customers? R: Sources they name, such as “open houses” that require effort on their part are an indicator. Referrals from other customers are good. A poor answer is, “ People just come.”
- Does your company have a satisfaction guarantee? R: You are looking to see how hassle free it will be to remove yourself if the relationship sours.
- How quickly can you email us recent “sold” comparables? R:The best answer is “We can put you on autopilot. I use the MLS tools to automatically email you updates on comparable homes in your area.”
- Why should we choose you to represent us? R: You are looking for depth, sincerity, and insightfulness. “ I’ll work my hardest.” is not as good as, “ I’ll hold an open house every other weekend.”
- What is your policy on returning customers telephone calls? R: You are setting an expectation. Is the response reasonable? This is a question to ask their references to see if they match up.
- If a homebuyer asks what a home is worth, what do you say? R: You are looking for their familiarity with agency law. A good answer is “I show them data sheet of comparable homes unless you instruct me otherwise.”
- Do you have price range preferences or particular areas you work in which you are most proficient? R: You are testing for consistency. Check against their references.
- Do you have an assistant or assistants? R: You are seeking to understand how they work.
- Can you add anything you feel would help assure your selection? R: Most will have other information to add, and you get a sense about them as a person.
- What is your favorite customer service “Wow” story? R: An answer like “ I have too many to count ” is not a real answer. A good seasoned agent will have a good story. A rookie may say, “I haven’t had one yet,” which is OK.
- Will you share your credentials for a violation check? R: If there is hesitancy or they say “yes” but you do not receive the information, it is not a good sign.
- What is your direct supervisor’s contact information? R: You are testing their adeptness, and it is useful information to have. Are they put-off? Do they seem shocked? Or do they understand why you may ask and not miss a beat.
The variety, depth and the reaction of the different contenders will help your make the best choice on an individual. These questions are designed to draw out the differences between candidates. Industry experts hold a common belief that your choice of agents will make a difference in your outcomes.