Hiring a professional real estate agent when buying or selling a home can help you make smart decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

What does a real estate agent do?

Real estate agents help people buy and sell homes. Agents educate their clients about current market conditions, guide them through each step of the process and make referrals to other professionals, such as home inspectors and real estate attorneys. 

A buyer’s agent helps buyers find and shop listed homes, make competitive offers and negotiate with sellers.

A listing agent helps sellers price, list and market their homes, and negotiate with buyers.

How to find and interview real estate agents

Ask friends and colleagues for referrals to find several prospective agents. Individuals who are advertising here are demonstrating an interest in working with the kind of people who read our publication. Check them out online and check their online reviews.   

Tips for Buyers and Sellers.

What experience and training does the agent have?

How long has the agent been working with clients? Look for an agent with a good track record of serving clients like you.

Were recent clients satisfied?

Request references and talk to clients who worked with the agent in the last year. 

Tips for buyers

What challenges will I face as a buyer in today’s market? A good agent will set realistic expectations by explaining the availability of listed homes and the level of competition you’ll face with other buyers.

How will you help me find listed homes in my price range? Ask for examples of how the agent has recently helped other buyers similar to you. 

How will you help me make competitive offers and negotiate with sellers? Look for an agent who will help you stay grounded within your budget and goals.

Tips for Sellers

How much will the agent be paid?

Usually, the seller pays the real estate commission, which the listing agent splits with the buyer’s agent. A typical real estate commission is 5% to 6% of the sales price.

As the seller, you may be able to negotiate a lower rate, particularly for a high-priced property.  As the buyer, you can ask for a rebate of a portion of the buyer agent’s commission.

What are the comparable listings in my area? An agent should provide a comparative market analysis, showing homes similar to yours that were sold in the last six months.

What do you think my home is worth and why? An agent who recommends the highest price isn’t always the best choice. Choose an agent who backs up the recommendation with market knowledge.

What should I do to improve my home? You may need to fix things to sell your home, depending on the local real estate market. Listen for solid reasoning about what your home needs and the return on investment for making those improvements.

How will you market my home? Beyond the Multiple Listing Service, get other details  – photos, video tours, advertising open houses.

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