5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Browsing homes online is great, but most people need a professional to take you through the finer points of buying a home.

Finding an agent or Realtor is harder than picking the first name you see. You’ll be spending countless hours in the car with this person, sharing your plans for the future, and really trusting them to guide you in the right direction.

Here are the questions you should ask to determine if your agent or Realtor is right for you.

What neighborhoods do you specialize in?

You want an agent who has experience working in neighborhoods and types of houses you’re interested in. If your agent only has experience with rural communities, he might not be able to guide you as well if you’re looking for a condo in the city.

An agent who’s familiar with a lot of neighborhoods that are similar to where you’re looking can also help guide you to the right house. He might even be able to recommend a great neighborhood that you've never even heard of.

What education, experience, and license do you have?

Don't be afraid to ask what kind of experience your agent has. Remember, a real estate agent with more experience can be better at guiding you through the homebuying process.

But someone just starting out might be ready to bust her hump trying to find you the perfect home and make a name for herself. You should also check to see if your agent is licensed to be an agent, a broker, or Realtor.

They’re all slightly different roles and you’ll need to choose the one that’s right for you.

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How much do you know about home loans?

An agent without a lot of experience might not realize that your preapproval isn’t a guarantee you’ll get a loan for the same amount—or at the same interest rate.

It’s ultimately up to you to manage your loan in a way that makes sense for you, but a good real estate agent can provide some guidance and help you through the loan process if you’re not familiar with it.

How will we communicate?

You need to be able to get in touch with your real estate agent quickly. There’s no shortage of ways you can talk to each other.

Today you'll find more and more agents on social media and you'll be hard pressed to find one that isn't able to text you or send an email.

There should be at least one way to get in touch with your agent immediately if you need to make a quick decision about an offer.

Will you be the only person I work with?

There’s nothing wrong with delegating some of the work to an assistant.

After all, that frees up your agent to spend more time researching and showing you houses. But it becomes a problem when you can’t get in touch with your agent or she starts giving the more specialized work to someone else. You’re paying for her expertise, after all.

Ready to find the real estate agent of your dreams? Check with companies where you're buying a home to get started. Or even better, ask around for a great recommendation.