Although it’s not so important what you actually ask the agents you interview, it won’t hurt to have a few handy questions to ask your real estate agent, to get the ball rolling and see how they respond.
We suggest asking questions that are a little out-of-the-box, and open-ended, so that it gets them talking, and hopefully off whatever script they may have come prepared with.
To get an agent talking, ask them what they think you can do to get the best price for your home – repairs, upgrades, tweaks, etc. See what kind of ideas they can come up, and see if they make sense to you.
Next, ask the agent what they can do to make sure you get the highest price. Look for an answer that isn’t something they can repeat from rote memory. Don’t let them tell you that the market determines the price of the house. If that were true, there’s no need to hire them as opposed to just hiring a flat fee discount broker who’ll put your home on the MLS for you and let you do the rest.
You want to hear what they’ll do beyond putting the home on the MLS, advertising in the newspaper, postcards, open houses, what have you. Those are the things an agent should do at a minimum. What else do they do to get you the best price?
Also, ask an agent how they’re different than other agents. What makes them special? Why should you be doing business with them, instead of one of the other agents you’ll be interviewing? And just come right out and say it, this’ll put the fear of God into them: tell them you’re thinking about using one of those flat-fee discount brokers. Have them tell you why that’s a bad idea. See what they say. If they can’t satisfactorily explain the value they offer above a flat-fee discount broker, you should keep talking to agents until you find one that can.
Also, consider this: the questions you ask, and even the answers, aren’t so important as what questions the agent asks you. Are they taking the time to get to know you, your situation, and how you want your business handled? The questions your agent asks you may be the most important questions of the interview.