Whether you’re considering to purchase or sell a home, choosing a real estate professional is a critical step in the process. According to a 2008 J.D. Power and Associates study, both home buyers and sellers considered having the right sales associate to be the key factor when it came to their overall satisfaction.

Before you make that initial contact with a professional, who will help guide you through what can be an emotional and sometimes complicated transaction, chances are you’ve already done quite a bit of homework on your own, much of it on the Web. The same J.D. Power study also found that 68% of buyers and 61% of sellers use the Web for help with research and marketing concerns.

What questions should you ask when evaluating an agent? While there are no hard and fast rules, your two main goals should be to determine an agent’s qualifications to assist you, and to establish a comfort level with the person who will potentially be handling one of the biggest financial transactions of your life.

In short, the number one question you should be aiming to answer is:
“Do I believe this is someone who can get the job done?”

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Are you a full-time real estate professional? For how long?
  • What professional certifications / designations do you hold?
  • Will you represent me as a buyer’s or seller’s agent? Please provide details.*
  • What’s your approach to helping buyers / sellers?
  • What purchases / sales have you handled recently that are similar to mine?
  • Do you work alone? If not, tell me about the assistant(s) or team that supports you.
  • How can I get in touch with you and your team? How often will you get in touch with me?
  • How well do you know my community?
  • What special programs do you offer for the kind of home (historic home, luxury property, etc.) that I’m looking to purchase / sell?
  • How will you make use of the Web and other technologies to help me purchase / sell my home?
  • Will you provide me with references that I may contact?
  • What is your personal and/or company Web address?
  • What will your services cost?

Questions Just for Buyers:

  • How will you help me find properties in the neighborhood(s) I’m considering?
  • Am I eligible for any special programs that could make purchasing my home more affordable?

Questions Just for Sellers:

  • How will you help ensure my home is exposed to the maximum number of potential buyers?
  • What programs to you offer that are specifically aimed at helping sellers?
You’ll Need to Listen, Too…

Once you get the answers to your questions, it’s just as important to listen to what an agent asks you. That’s part of building a comfort level and trust in the real estate professional you choose to work with.