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A real estate transaction has many moving parts. The real estate agent’s role is to smooth the home sale process, from setting the price to closing the deal. Before hiring a specific real estate agent, take advantage of his or her knowledge about houses and the market, ask the right questions to determine the agent’s suitability for your transaction.

The real estate agent whom you hire should be a good match for your style, your neighborhood, and the buying population you are trying to target. Once you have chosen an agent, he or she will help you determine your home’s asking price. Knowing how much comparable homes in the neighborhood have sold for is important. Your real estate agent will also advise you about improving your house to bring you a higher selling price.

The following is a list of questions to think about asking your agent. Everyone is different, so answers may vary, but it is important to begin to align your goals and set up for success!

1. What Are the Top Three Things That Separate You From Your Competition?

A good agent won’t hesitate to answer this question and will be ready to fire off why she is best suited for the job. Everyone has their own standards, but most consumers say they are looking for agents who say they are:

•Honest and trustworthy


•Excellent negotiators

•Available by phone or e-mail

•Good communicators



•Able to maintain a good sense of humor under trying circumstances

2. What is Your Average List-Price-to-Sales-Price Ratio?

Knowing the agent’s average ratio speaks volumes. Excluding sizzling seller’s markets, a good buyer’s agent should be able to negotiate a sales price that is lower than list price for buyers. A competent listing agent should hold a track record for negotiating sales prices that are very close to list prices. Therefore, listing agents should have higher ratios closer to 100%. Buyer’s agent ratios should fall below 99%.

3. What is Your Best Marketing Plan or Strategy for My Needs?

As a buyer, you will need to know

•How will you search for my new home?

•How many homes will I likely see before I find a home I want to buy?

•Will I be competing against other buyers?

•How do you handle multiple offers?

•Do you present offers yourself?


As a seller, you will need to know:

•Specifically, how will you sell my home?

•Why or why not is a direct mail campaign appropriate?

•Where and how often do you advertise?

•Will you show me a sample flyer?

•How do you market online?

4. Will You Please Provide References?

Everybody has references. Even new agents have references from previous employers.

•Ask to see references.

•Ask if any of the individuals providing references are related to the agent.

•Ask if you can call the references with additional questions.


5. May I Review Documents Beforehand That I Will Be Asked to Sign?

A sign of a good real estate agent is a professional who makes forms available to you for preview before you are required to sign them. If at all possible, ask for these documents upfront.

As a buyer, ask for copies of the following: •Buyer’s Broker Agreement (is it exclusive or non-exclusive?)

•Agency Disclosures

•Purchase Agreement

•Buyer Disclosures


As a seller, ask to see:

•Agency Disclosure

• Listing Agreement

•Seller Disclosures

6. How Will You Help Me Find Other Professionals?

Let the real estate agent explain to you who she works with and why she chooses these professionals. Your agent should be able to supply you with a written list of referring vendors such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors and title companies. Ask for an explanation if you see the term “affiliated” because it could mean that the agent and her broker are receiving compensation from one or all of vendors, and you could be paying a premium for the service.

7. How Much Do You Charge?

Don’t ask if the fee is negotiable. All real estate fees are negotiable. Typically, real estate agents charge a percentage, from 1% to 4% to represent one side of a transaction: a seller or a buyer. A listing agent may charge, for example, 3.5% for herself and another 3.5% for the buyer’s agent, for a total of 7%.


Proper preparation for a home sale is essential. If you choose the right agent, and ask the right questions, your home should sell quickly and smoothly, and for the right asking price.

Kathleen Finnegan

23925 Park Sorrento
Calabasas, Ca 91302

Office 818-876-3111
Cell 818-601-0056