|1. Are you
a full-time professional Realtor®? How long have you
worked full time in real estate? How long have you been
representing buyers? What professional designations do
Knowing whether or not
your Realtor® practices real estate on a full-time
basis can give you a piece of the puzzle in foreseeing
scheduling conflicts and, overall, his or her commitment
to your transaction. As with any profession, the number
of years a person has been in the business does not
necessarily reflect the level of service you can expect,
but it is a good starting point for your discussion. The
same issue can apply to professional designations.
|2. Do you
have a personal assistant, team, or staff to handle
different parts of the purchase transaction? What are
their names and how will each of them help me in my
transaction? How do I communicate with them?
It is not uncommon for
high real estate sales producers to hire people to work
for them or with them. They typically work on a referral
basis, and, as their businesses grow, they must be able
to deliver the same or higher quality service to more
You may want to be clear
about who on the team will take part in your
transaction, and what role each person will play. You
may even want to meet the other team members before you
decide to work with the team overall. If you needed help
with a certain part of your home purchase, who should
you talk to and how would you communicate? If you have a
question about fees on your closing statement, who would
handle that? Who will show up to your closing? These are
just a few of the many important considerations in
working with a team.
|3. Do you
and/or your company each have a website that will
provide me with useful information for research,
services, and how you work with buyers? Can I have those
Web addresses now? And who does the emails? Can I have
the email address now?
Many homebuyers prefer
to search online for homes and home buying information.
There are certain privacy and comfort levels that you
might appreciate in starting a preliminary search this
way, and often it is just a matter of convenience,
having 24-hour access to information. By searching the
Realtor®'s and the company's Web sites, you will get a
clear picture of how much work you would be able to
accomplish online, and whether or not that suits your
preferences. When I have a question, how quickly do you
respond to emails?
you show me properties from other companies' listings?
Some real estate
companies do offer their buyers' agents a higher
commission if they are able to sell "in-house"
listings. In such circumstances, there can be added
incentive to show you a more limited range of homes than
you might consider. If this is the case with your
Realtor®, you should be very clear on how this will
impact your home search, if at all. You also should
determine it this affects how much your buyer agents fee
you represent me or will you represent the seller? May I
have that in writing? How will you represent me, and
what is the direct benefit of having you represent me?
The goal here is to
ascertain to whom the Realtor® has legal fiduciary
obligation, which may vary from state to state or even
locale to locale. In the past, Realtors® always worked
for sellers. Then the listing broker was responsible for
paying the agent or sub-agent that brought a suitable
buyer for the home. And even though the buyer worked
'with' an agent, the agent still represented and owed
their fiduciary duty to the seller.
An additional situation
in some states is dual agency. This is where the buyer
decides to have the listing agent prepare the offer for
him. A knowledgeable buyer may elect this situation
which should be fully disclosed to all parties. In some
states it also affects the broker's/agent's fiduciary
responsibilities to the seller.
today almost always have a sense of moral obligation to
buyers, this original type of seller agency still exists
in certain areas. In other areas, a formal method of
buyer representation called Buyer Agency exists to
protect buyers. Find out what is available in your area
and make yourself comfortable with the extent to which
you will be represented.
will you get paid? How are your fees structured? May I
have that in writing?
This is an issue that
can also be related to agency. In many areas, the seller
still customarily pays all Realtor® commissions through
the listing broker. Sometimes, Realtors® will have
other small fees, such as administrative or special
service fees, that are charged to clients, regardless of
whether they are buying or selling. Be aware of the big
picture before you sign any agreements. Ask for an
estimate of buyer costs from any agent you contemplate
What distinguishes you from other Realtors®?
What is your negotiating style and how does it differ
from those of other Realtors®? What geographic areas to
you specialize in?
It should be important
to know that your Realtor® has unique methods of
overcoming obstacles and is an effective negotiator on
your behalf, but most importantly that your Realtor®
can advocate for you in the most effective ways.
you give me names of past clients who will give
references for you?
Interviewing a Realtor®
to help you buy a home can be very similar to
interviewing someone to work in your office. Contacting
a Realtor®'s references can be a reliable way for you
to understand how he or she works, and whether or not
this style is compatible with your own.
|9. Do you
have a performance guarantee? If I am not satisfied with
your performance, can I terminate our Buyer Agency
especially in the heavily regulated world of real
estate, it can be increasingly difficult for a Realtor®
to offer a performance guarantee. Sometimes you may find
a Realtor® who is willing to guarantee that if you are
dissatisfied in any way with their service they will
terminate your Buyer Agency Agreement. If your Realtor®
does not have a performance guarantee available in
writing, it is not an indication that he or she is not
committed to perform, but rather that he or she is
willing to verbally promise some kind of performance
standard. In fact, Realtors® at Keller Williams Realty
understand the importance of win-win business
relationships, and that the Realtor® does not benefit
if the client does not also benefit.
will you keep in contact with me during the buying
process, and how often?
||It's a good
idea for you to set your expectations reasonably in
accordance with how your Realtor® conducts business.
You may be looking for an agent to call, fax, or email
you every evening to tell you about properties that meet
your criteria which are new on the market. On the other
hand, your Realtor® may have access to systems that
will notify clients of new properties as they come on
the market (which could happen several times a day or
several times a week). Asking this extra question can
help you to reconcile your needs with your Realtor®'s
systems, which makes for a far more satisfying