10 Questions to Ask a Realtor

Written by Steven PorrelloOctober 17th, 20224 minute read

Before you agree to work with a single realtor — or sign an exclusive agent agreement — you should interview at least three agents to see if they’re a good fit and can offer you the most value. Asking a few thoughtful questions up front can help you choose a local agent who is the best match for you.

Below we’ll break down the top questions to ask your potential realtor when you’re buying or selling a house.

5 questions to ask a realtor when buying a house

1. How many buyers have you taken to the closing table in the past 12 months?

You want to know two things: how many home transactions they've handled, and how many of those were home purchases.

While some realtors help both buyers and sellers, the best specialize in one or the other. Look for a buyer’s agent, or someone who works exclusively with home buyers.

🚩 If your agent has completed fewer than 10 home transactions in the past 12 months, they’re likely not working as a full-time realtor. Chances are, they’re not buying or selling enough homes to know the market on a deeper level.

A great buyer's agent will have closed on at least 10 homes within a year. Depending on your area's population, the minimum amount of home transactions may be much higher than this.

2. How often and when are you available?

Great agents will be busy, but not so busy that they can’t prioritize you in their schedule.

For instance, if you’re only available after 4 p.m. on weekdays, you want to be sure your agent is free during this time. This is especially important when you’re in a market with low housing inventory and high demand, as your agent should be agile enough to get you a showing before other buyers.

🚩 If you find yourself constantly adjusting your life for your agent — rather than your agent adjusting for you — they may not be the best match.

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3. What’s your average sale-to-asking-price ratio?

One way to measure how well a buyer's agent can negotiate is to ask for their sale-to-asking-price ratio. A ratio below 100% means the agent frequently holds leverage in the buyer’s favor.

For instance, say a home’s selling price is $350,000, but your agent negotiates the price down to $335,000. In this case, the sale-to-asking-price ratio would be:

95.7% = $335,000 / $350,000

On the other hand, if the house had sold for $360,000, then the sale-to-asking price-ratio would be above 100%:

102.8% = $360,000 / $350,000

4. What will you do to make my offer more competitive?

Top buyer's agents will know exactly what your offer needs to stand out. They can advise you on a competitive price, the contingencies you should add (or waive), and an appropriate closing date for the seller.

5. Do you offer cash back or a rebate?

Some agents will share a portion of their commission check with the buyer. If you're choosing between two realtors, all things being equal, the agent who offers cash back can put a little extra money in your pocket — without sacrificing the quality of service.

For example, Clever can match you with a top buyer's agent and help you get 0.5% cash back at closing.

5 questions to ask a realtor when selling

1. How much is your commission?

A listing agent will typically charge 5% to 6% of a home’s sales price as commission, which they’ll split 50–50 with the buyer's agent. For a $440,000 home, that means you could pay between $22,000 and $26,400 in commission charges.

While 5–6% is standard, you can also find a great listing agent through a low-commission real estate company for as little as 1% to 2%. For instance, our friends at Clever can help you find a listing agent for a pre-negotiated commission of 1%. At that rate, you could save as much as $8,800 on commissions for a $440,000 home sale.

2. How much is my house worth?

A great agent will be able to explain how they arrived at a competitive listing price. Most will conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA), which compares your home with similar properties sold in the area. You can request CMAs from multiple listing agents to see who’s willing to sell your home at the highest price.

» MORE: Get a free CMA from a top local agent through Clever’s free matching service

3. What’s your marketing and sales strategy?

Your agent should be able to present you with a marketing strategy that’s specific to your home. At the very least this plan should include:

  • A detailed listing on the MLS
  • Professional photography and staging
  • A well-marketed open house

Many agents will also offer additional services, such as drone photography, 3D virtual tours, and paid ads for social media and search engines. They might also engage other local agents and promote your home through social clubs or realtor associations.

4. When was the last time you sold a house in this neighborhood?

Because each market is unique, you want a listing agent who has hands-on experience selling homes in your neighborhood. The more experience they have, the more likely they’ll know:

  • How to competitively price your home
  • What marketing strategy will work best
  • Features that local buyers are looking for
  • How aggressively they should negotiate

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5. How long will it take you to sell our home?

The best listing agents will give you an estimate based on their knowledge of the area and similar homes that have sold recently.

🚩 If a realtor gives you a ballpark estimate, that’s a good sign they don’t know your market well enough to cite hard facts.

Summary

  • If you're buying, look for a buyer's agent who has closed on more than 10 homes in the past year and is responsive to your schedule and needs.
  • If you're selling, find a listing agent who charges low commissions, has a strong marketing strategy, and has special knowledge of your area.
  • If you’re a first-time home buyer, familiarize yourself with the steps to buying.