More Than 20 Questions For Your REALTOR®

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Full length beautiful woman in formal clothes with hands on the waist. Colourful ' home sales ' icons are drawn on the concrete wall. Risk analysis of the mortgage loan. Wooden floor. Full length beautiful woman in formal clothes with hands on the waist. Colourful ‘ home sales ‘ icons are drawn on the concrete wall. Risk analysis of the mortgage loan. Wooden floor.

By Marilyn Pribus –
When buying or selling real estate, the first thing to know is that not every agent is a REALTOR®, although most are. A person must pass a written test before they become state licensed and may legally act as a real estate agent. States have their own licensing standards.
A REALTOR®, on the other hand, also belongs to the National Association of REALTORS® which holds its members to high ethical standards. They must also adhere to a Code of Ethics towards their customers, clients, the public, and other REALTORS®.
Whether you are looking so sell or buy, there are important things to know when considering a REALTOR ®. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Why should I hire a REALTOR®?
  • How long have you been in the real estate business and is this your full-time job? While a part-time agent can do a good job, REALTOR ® Brian McCauley of Montague, Miller & Co. says, “An experienced agent brings a lot more to the table than just important networking connections and the ‘part-time’ question is super important.”
  • In the past year, how many homes have you listed and sold in this area? This gives an indication of the person’s success.

When Selling A Property:
What’s it worth? REALTORS ® can provide a Comparative Market Analysis which provides recent selling prices for similar properties in your immediate area. While websites such as Zillow may state a price for your property, active REALTORS® can provide a more accurate comparison since they will likely have been inside similar houses for sale and know which are completely upgraded and which are shabby.

  • Are there ways to improve the condition of this property to get the best price? It’s important to know that most buyers these days are looking for a “turn-key” dwelling that doesn’t need a lot of work, even if a lower price might be offered for a “fixer-upper.”
  • What would your marketing strategy be?
  • Do you have a website? Many potential buyers tour the Internet first these days and want to see good photos of properties before they even get in the car to go looking.
  • Will you hold open houses? While open houses don’t necessarily sell properties, they sometimes do. And if your listing agent holds other open houses, he or she can tell potential buyers about your property.
  • What exactly is “staging”? There are professional services available for putting the best possible face on your property, but many REALTORS® have experience with this and can save you fees.
  • Will I be called before someone shows my property?  Should I have a lockbox? What about my pets if I’m not home?
  • What does the listing agreement involve? How long is it for? Is there a cancellation clause? A friend said his cousin might be interested. If she ends up buying, do I have to pay you a commission?
  • Should I have a home inspection? How about a termite or pest report? Some REALTORS® recommend performing an inspection and pest report prior to listing, others don’t. Either way, ask why.
  • Will I need an attorney?
  • Is there anything I should have asked you that I didn’t?

When You’re Buying
There are specific questions to ask about each place you tour. It’s wise to keep careful track of answers, especially when viewing many properties.

  • How does the price compare to similar properties and is it realistic?
  • How long has the place been on the market?
  • Has the seller made major renovations or additions? If so, how can I learn whether they are up to code?
  • Can I learn if the property has ever been involved in a fire, flooding (either natural or from a broken water or sewer line), or other major damage?
  • What schools would my children attend? Would they take a school bus?
  • Are there plans for other development nearby—either large housing or commercial properties—that could affect the home’s value or create additional traffic or noise?
  • How old is the property? After a certain number of years, a new roof and other maintenance such as painted will be needed.
  • Do any of the appliances convey? Are there warranties on appliances, the heating system, the garage door opener or other amenities?
  • Will the seller provide a home warranty?
  • Are there any parking rules or restrictions?

REALTOR ® McCauley cautions that buyers shouldn’t expect too much information about financial costs. “We are not professionals in that realm and wouldn’t be able to give anything other than a very rough estimate.” But your agent should be able to guide you to the people who can give you the answers to questions such as:

  • What are the monthly maintenance and utility costs?
  • Are there homeowner association fees? Who covers waste removal?
  • How much are the real estate taxes? Could they be affected by my purchase?
  • What would my total monthly cost be? Would the seller carry the mortgage?
  • What would my closing costs be?
  • Is there anything I should have asked you that I didn’t?

The Bottom Line
REALTORS® understand most potential clients interview more than one agent, knowing it’s likely you’ll feel more rapport with one than another. So choose a person you respect and trust when entering into an agreement to sell your house.
If you are buying, always contact your own REALTOR®, even when you see another agent’s name listed for a particular property.


Marilyn Pribus is a former real estate agent with Goodman Segar Hogan in the Hampton Roads area, although her Air Force husband was transferred before she was able to become a REALTOR®.

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