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3 questions to ask when interviewing a Realtor to help you sell your home

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3 questions to ask when interviewing a Realtor to help you sell your home
By: Rachel Sartain Tenpenny 7/9/2021

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2020 statistics showed 41% Sellers found their Realtor through a referral from a family member or friend. Of the people who sold their home in 2020, 89% used a real estate professional to help them with their transaction. The sale of real estate is considered the biggest financial asset of most Americans, yet they only spent 3 hours on average researching the professional to guide them through their process! Would you put one of your largest assets at risk with only 3 hours of research?? 

The real estate agent is no longer a retired school teacher selling homes on the side as in the 1980’s. Many are professional business owners who are highly trained, have come from a corporate or business environment, and 43% have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Yet, 22% of Realtors work only part-time, fly by the seat of their pants, and are looking for a commission check. How will you determine the difference to protect your asset? The information below will help you find and hire the right Realtor for the sale of your home. 

In  Pinellas County, Florida there are more than 9000 licensed Realtors, more than 4 times the number of monthly closings on average according to the Pinellas Realtor Organization statistics! You probably know a few Realtors but are they the most equipped to help you sell your home? It is important for you to determine if the Realtors you know are the best real estate consultant to help you with your most valuable asset. This is a major financial decision that will impact your future, your family and your time.  Making the best choice to guide you and your family through the process is essential. Not all Realtors are the same.  

Being in the real estate industry for more than 18 years and spending the last 12 years training and coaching real estate agents, I have found the 3 questions below will help you weed out the extraordinary from the ordinary (and inadequate). It is recommended to ask each Realtor you are considering hiring for the sale of your home these 3 questions and spend quality time doing your research. These are not questions you will find on any other blog or website. These are questions to help guarantee you find the best Realtor to protect you and your property.  

Question 1: What was the last real estate class or event you attended?  

There are minimum education requirements to obtain a real estate license in the state of Florida.  You only need to complete 63  hours of training, take an end of course exam and a state exam administered by the Department of Business and Professional Regulations, Division of Real Estate. The 63 hours of training does not include information regarding real estate sales agreements (contracts) or other imperative information. It is essentially a course to teach you the rules and regulations of the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) as well as FREC  guidelines. Contract classes are essential to stay abreast of best practices and contract changes. Remember, the sales contract is a legally binding agreement between the buyer and seller. Isn’t it important for your Realtor to understand the ins and outs of this legally binding agreement to protect you and your money?  

Contract knowledge and transactional experience is a key priority but there are many other classes that impact a Realtor’s ability to guide a seller through the process of selling their home. Marketing, property preparation (staging, photography, videography), communication skills, human behavior and connections to other Realtors are also vital to a successful real estate transaction.  Ask the Realtor you are interviewing about the last class or training event they attended to determine their level of commitment to their customers and the health of their own business.  

Making sure your Realtor is learning-based is key! In my 18 years of experience as a 

Realtor, the majority of Realtors I’ve met think a real estate education is what you do when you get started in the business. They believe their state required 14-hours of continuing education every 18-24 months is sufficient to properly represent a buyer and/or seller in a legally binding contract. This is CRAZY to me! As a certified instructor, certified coach, and former managing broker of the largest real estate firm in the area for nearly 12 years, I am reading, learning, attending classes and training events almost daily to ensure I am offering the best guidance and resources to my customers. The world is constantly changing and we must continue to grow and adapt to meet our customers’ needs in the ever changing market.  

Hiring a Realtor who is not staying current on market trends and contract updates could be detrimental to you and the outcome you are hoping to accomplish.  

Question 2: What is the commission you charge?  

This question is a trick question and will open many doors to determine if this Realtor is the best Realtor to help you sell your home.  

First it is important for you to understand the Sherman Antitrust act forbids any “set commission”. Each real estate brokerage (office) may instruct their Realtors, who function as sub-agents to the Broker, to charge a minimum percentage of the total sales price. In addition, each individual Realtor, who is seen by the state as an independent contractor (small business owner), can determine the fee necessary to run their business.  

The old adage “Price is important when Value isn’t present” is extremely important in this situation. What value is the Realtor bringing to the table? In a Seller’s market where supply of homes is low and buyer demand is high, the value a Realtor brings to the table is greater than securing a buyer and writing an offer. What is their pre-marketing plan to prepare the home and drive the highest value in the eyes of the buyers? Do they have the resources available to help you get your home in the best market condition? These things include but are not limited to the following: 

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  • Staging 
  • Paint 
  • Landscape 
  • Cleaning 
  • Property Inspection and repair  
  • Preliminary title search 
  • Professional photography and videography 

**BEWARE** if your Realtor whips out their cell phone to take photos of your home… RUN, don’t walk to the door and set them on their way. Poor photo quality, bad lighting and photography will not showcase your home and could detour a potential buyer from seeing the value of the property, ultimately causing you to receive lower offer prices.  

Secondly, finding a buyer for your home seems like the goal when you are ready to sell your home. The actual goal is to find a ready, willing and able buyer, walk both parties through the process of the transaction and get to the closing table! Many  

homes go under contract and many homes come back on the market (as many as 18% of homes come back on the market). This can leave a negative impression for other buyers, increase the days on the market, and increase your stress level, all of which impact the profit you are hoping to receive at the closing table.  

The real value of a Realtor is their ability to pre-qualify the buyer AND their agent on the front end, monitor the time frames of the contract, ensure the proper steps are being taken along the way, manage the emotional rollercoaster of all parties, communicate to all parties (mortgage, title, home inspectors, appraisers, etc) and  then come in for a smooth landing at the closing table where money and keys are finally exchanged.  

Lastly, if your Realtor is quick to reduce their commission, take this as a sign of their own negotiation skills. If a Realtor can not negotiate for their own income to provide for their business and their family, how well will they protect your money? Determine if their value proposition will protect your money, time and resources. We get what we pay for and real estate commission is not an exception.  

Question 3: Do you work from the office or from home? 

This may be another trick question but the answer should be an enlightening one. Productive Realtors technically work from their car, answering calls, showing properties, meeting with sellers and networking within the community. The amount of time spent in the office is a small portion of their day. 

The answer to the question should shed light on a few important factors when it comes to selling your home;

  • A highly productive office environment leads to collaboration, learning and closing more transactions. Ask the Realtor to provide you with statistics regarding how their brokerage performance compares to other offices in the area. A top performing real estate brokerage typically has top performing agents who are hopefully helping one another. 
  • Working from an office environment helps Realtors build relationships with other Realtors. Relationships are important in every business. In our market area, the majority of homes are sold with a cooperating agent/broker (95-99%). If your Realtor doesn’t have great relationships with other Realtors in the community, heed this as a warning! Staying connected with other top producing professionals in the industry, collaborating and discussing up-to-date market trends are essential in this fast-moving real estate market. One Realtor will never experience all the bends and twists of the real estate world. By staying connected to a community of Realtors, communicating with them on a regular basis for best practices, market shifts and how to overcome obstacles, a Realtor is better equipped to handle the curve balls thrown daily, all of which could create havoc on your transaction.  
  • If the Realtor is working from their home office, who are they learning from and what are they learning? Maybe this one is just a pet peeve of mine but I find it is very telling. As a managing broker of a 300+ agent office, some Realtors chose to work from home and some chose to work from the office. I’ve always asked Realtors, “go home to your home office, look around and tell me who you are going to learn from?” With only a few exceptions, the most successful Realtors work from the office. They treat their business like a business and show up for work every day. Is the Realtor you are interviewing going to treat the sale of your asset as a priority or a hobby? All successful entrepreneurs have success habits. Real estate entrepreneurs are no exception. 

The Most Important Question 

The most important questions asked during a Realtor interview should be the ones the Realtor asks of you as the homeowner. This is the most critical tip I can give. Pay attention to how many questions the Realtor asks of you and your situation. Questions help us understand our customer’s needs, goals, experiences and motivation so we can better assist them in their process. Some questions might seem a little personal or invasive, but really the purpose of selling your home is personal. It is crucial for your real estate professional to understand your personal motivations and goals that are driving the desire to sell your home. 

If the Realtor you interview is too busy telling you about themselves, take this as a clear sign of where their focus lies. No one needs an ego-driven superhero to sell their home.  

Please leave a comment or question below. I would love to know your feedback and to hear how these questions helped you hire your Realtor to sell your home OR  just CALL YES-Homes for a free consultation to see how our knowledge and skills can help you protect your asset and make your next move, feeling grateful and accomplished.  

YES-Homes Luxury Agreement is to be committed to helping you meet your real estate goals in a highly professional, mutually respectful process. Our market knowledge, contract expertise, and customer service processes are guaranteed to make you a winner in the home selling process. Each step along the journey will be clear and simplified with your needs as our priority. We will take the confusion out of the journey and ensure you make the next best move for you and your family. This is the luxury real estate service you deserve and will want to tell your family and friends about!

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