Buying a new home means networking with a lot of people – your new neighbors, your builder, and the design team, to name a few – and it can feel silly to add anyone else to the list. But working with an agent when looking to buy a new home gives you access to their experience and knowledge base, which is priceless.
You don’t want to just snag up the first person who comes your way, though. Take time to get to know different real estate agents, and determine who might be the best fit for you.
Questions to Ask When Interviewing an Agent
We’ve gathered some important questions to ask to help you pin down which agent you’ll work with, as well as additional questions to keep in mind throughout the home search process.
How long have you been a real estate agent?
The fact is, wisdom comes from experience. That’s not to say that someone fresh in the industry isn’t a great agent – rather, be sure to ask so you know what you’re signing up for.
Are you a full-time real estate agent, or is this a side gig?
Again, this is more so you’re fully aware of the situation. If the agent you’re working with is part-time and is potentially going to be distracted by other obligations, you deserve to know up front.
How many clients have you served this year/last year?
While you want someone with plenty of years under their belt, their experience isn’t so helpful if they’re only working with one client every other year. Ask this question to get a sense of how engaged and familiar an agent is with the current market!
Are you familiar with the areas I am looking to purchase in?
Real estate agents know they need to be familiar with the market in which their buyer is looking to purchase, so make sure you’re on the right track! Ask about their success in selling homes from the markets you’re most interested in moving to, so you have a better sense of what success or obstacles to expect with this agent.
Do you specialize in any specific home style or buyer demographic?
Perhaps you don’t want the traditional single detached home, and would rather a condo or townhouse. Why not find a realtor who has extensive experience with finding these homes? Likewise, if you’re looking for a home and area that suits the needs of a twenty-something single homeowner without kids, check in with your agent to make sure they’re comfortable with catering to those needs.
What methods of communication do you utilize?
If you’ve embraced modern technology to the extreme and refuse to check your email until your inbox is at capacity, but will respond to a text at any given hour, you’ll do best with an agent who prioritizes texts and phone calls over emails.
Alternatively, if you prefer to receive emails of listings so you can digest all of the information in front of a laptop, let your agent know! Home buying can be a somewhat stressful experience; you don’t want this compounded upon by an inability to communicate effectively with your agent, so make sure you’re both on the same page from the get-go.
Do you require pre-qualification or pre-approval?
This is important to know ahead of time so you’re prepared for your first showing. While legally not required, plenty of agents like to see prequalified or preapproval letter; that way, they won’t waste time showing you homes out of your price point. This also indicates you’re serious about the home-buying process and will be ready to move forward with a home offer when the agent shows you the perfect home.
Can you provide past client testimonials?
As in any other profession, positive reviews and feedback are something to be highlighted. Don’t be afraid to ask the agent for past client reviews; positive testimonials can do wonders to ease your anxiety before making a decision on which agent you’ll work with.
Do you have a website?
Having your own website is a professional expectation nowadays, and can also provide further insight on the agent. Are there several grammar errors? Does it indicate they work with an assistant, meaning there’s another person you should familiarize yourself and expect to communicate with? Is there a lack of positive reviews? All of these can indicate different experiences with the agent, so be sure to give their website at least cursory glance.
On average, how long do buyers work with you before finding their home?
Are you looking for a quick move-in home, and need to be settled in within the next month? Or are you early on in the process and want to take your time, several months or more? Connect with an agent that works well on the timeline you’re comfortable with.
Do you have any additional professionals you can recommend for me?
A well-informed and well-connected agent is a must-have in the home searching and buying process. You may need later connections for technicians, appraisers, inspectors, or more, and your agent should be a source of information to guide you.
Questions to Ask as You Look at Homes
Okay, so you’ve pinned down the agent you’re most comfortable working with. While they are there to guide you throughout the process, part of your duty as a homebuyer is to come prepared with questions to gain insight on the homes you’re looking at.
Is this home in an area prone to natural disasters (e.g. tornado, flood, wildfire, etc.)?
It’s surprising how quickly the home of your dreams becomes a nightmare within the first year, when you’re not prepared for the local natural disasters. Be sure to ask your agent upfront what local natural challenges may occur and how to prepare, especially if you are relocating to an area you’re not familiar with.
To be clear, the answer does not have to be a deal breaker; rather, it’s important to know what experience you’re signing up for, and what additional expenses from insurance or future repairs you need to plan for.
How much are property taxes?
This is a simple question home shoppers often forget to ask. Be sure to run this question by your agent, so you (and your budget!) are fully prepared.
What’s the noise level like in this area?
While your agent might not know your neighbors by face and name, they’re likely keyed in to the general vibe of the neighborhood. Is the property backed up to a major interstate, so you should anticipate traffic noise? Has a major construction project to widen the sidewalks throughout the community just been approved? Is it near a fire station or active railroad crossing? While a bit of noise doesn’t need to end all negotiations on a home, it’s important you’re aware of what will be commonplace.
How will home prices be affected by what’s going on in the neighborhood?
Will there be future amenities added, such as a new pool or additional shopping centers? Or has crime begun to increase, and so homes will be depreciating in value? Knowing as much as you can about how the overall area is progressing is useful for planning, especially if you ever decide to sell your home.
Are there any upcoming condo or homeowners association assessments?
Assessments – fees home or condo owners pay for HOA expenses that aren’t covered in monthly fees – are one of the necessary evils of homeownership. However, they’re quite costly and can be a major inconvenience if you’re not anticipating them. Be sure to ask the agent you’re working with if there are upcoming assessments, so you can budget accordingly.
How long has the home been on the market?
Is the builder having trouble selling, or are they so popular they can hardly keep up with demand? Different factors impact what your offer will look like, and can also indicate the likelihood of the seller meeting any concessions you request.
More than just the selling trends will weigh in on how you craft your purchase offer; if you’re not sure how to write an offer letter, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.
Would you buy this house?
Sometimes, the best question is also the most honest. Ask your agent if they’d purchase the home they’re showing you. Even if they beat around the bush and won’t give a firm answer, what they choose to talk about reveals a lot. Do they immediately dive in with, “Well, for those that love the open floor plan, this home is perfect”? Sounds like they’re not a fan of the aesthetics personally, but there’s no major flaws with the home.
If their answer is something more like, “The construction noise isn’t great, but there are plenty of other benefits,” then they could be trying to draw your attention to a major flaw without being too forward. Pay close attention to how their answer is phrased, and it can give you a good sense of whether or not your agent thinks this home is a steal.
Don’t Be Shy!
By no means are either of these lists comprehensive. There are going to be a lot of questions that come up along the way – the important thing is to ask them! Even if it seems silly to you, your agent has undoubtedly heard it all before. Buying a home is a huge milestone, and you need to be as informed as possible before making the commitment. As the saying goes, there are no stupid questions.
Whether you’re still trying to decide if you’re ready to purchase a home, or you’re trying to find current listings, head on over to NewHomeSource for all your home buying needs.
Mia Zozobrado joined Builders Digital Experience (BDX) in 2019 as a content writer. A graduate of Southwestern University with a degree in English, Mia is passionate about the written word and making connections.