A broker is a professional like any other. They are working for you, representing your interests at all times. It makes sense to interview a few brokers to ensure you feel comfortable with them as a person and confident in their abilities to represent you.
This article is intended for people interested in Buying real estate, these are questions to ask a Broker to help you BUY a house.
(If you are interested in Selling a house, read our article: Hiring a Broker to Sell Your House)
Use these 6 questions to find the best real broker by interviewing a few before hiring them to represent your interests.
Hiring your broker is Step 1 of 7. Download all 7 Steps to HomeOwnership here.
Most brokers are happy to sit down with you to answer basic questions about themselves, their professional skills and market knowledge. Below are a few questions to ask a real estate broker before you sign an agreement to work with them:
1. How many years of experience do you have in this industry?
You want to get a gauge of how confident your broker is in their abilities to serve you as a buyer. Less than 2 years experience is not necessarily a bad thing, this means they are working to build their business and will be working very hard on your file.
A good follow up question is "What sort of support do you receive from your Managing Broker?" Ask for the Managing Broker's contact information and contact them as well. If you decide to move forward with a less experienced broker, assume the Managing Broker will be equally involved in your transaction.
2. What is your experience in this community?
You want to know how confident your broker is in your specific area. Brokers that focus on specific areas are more equipped to quickly analyze potential houses on your behalf and how to competitively position offers. In other words, they know how to effectively make an offer in the specific area and how to get it accepted. They've likely worked with the listing agent before, how they work, and those relationships are invaluable.
A locally focused agent understand the market and key players intimately, this simply cannot be duplicated by someone focusing on the entire Puget Sound. They have a database of speculative sellers in the area, people they can call if the right buyer comes along (potentially you). AND, through their organized database, they are well connected with other brokers, inspectors, closing reps, mortgage brokers, insurance brokers, all the members of the team you will need, locally operating and personally known.
Finally, a local broker is familiar with the local schools, park, shopping center, growth plans, any recent and/or scheduled infrastructure upgrades. They should be familiar with local market statistics, such as average sales price, volume sold and average rent costs.
If they can confidently detail solid information about your community, the market statistics, and key members of the real estate team operating locally, you may have found a well equipped real estate broker to represent your interests.
All of these things tell you they take their professional development and career seriously.
3. What services will you provide for me as my broker?
Make sure you are both on the same page as to what type services will be provided, frequency/type of communication, and hours of availability. Again, you are looking for a broker who can confidently speak to their skill set and ability to serve you best.
Many brokers work independently and their time is divided between all their clients. The benefit is you have one contact person throughout the process; the downside is sometimes they are pressed for time with another client.
Other real estate brokers work on a team, where each team member is responsible for various aspects of the transaction. The benefit here is you get a specialist in each step, but the downside is you are dealing with a variety of people personalities (and schedules).
Fresh Look Real Estate Team works as a hybrid model; Each broker works independently with their clients, so you have main contact person throughout the transaction, while each broker supports each other, in case of last minute client needs. All Fresh Look Real Estate brokers are supported by a back office that ensures accuracy in paperwork smooth transactions.
Listen attentively while the broker explains how they provide services & what happens if they are unavailable to serve you at a given time. The most important answer you need to hear is that this broker knows their procedures and processes well enough to confidently explain it to you, their potential client.
4. What paperwork is involved now throughout the transaction?
Listen very intently as the broker goes through the paperwork involved. They can provide you examples of blank contracts, so you can read them thoroughly before ever needing to sign them. If they can confidently explain what paperwork is needed and their implications, you may have found a well equipped real estate broker to represent your interests.
The broker will likely at this point present you with either a listing agreement or a buyer agreement. These agreements define how the broker is paid commits you to them for a period of time. By agreeing to work with the broker for a certain amount of time, you are providing them with confidence that you will stick with them through the good times the difficult times. This protects both you and the broker allows him or her diligently on your file without fear that you will leave for another broker. Basically, you have “hired” the broker, usually for 6 months at a time, to represent you are providing them with ample time to complete the transaction.
2 follow up Questions After the Agreements have been Presented
5. Can you please explain how you are paid?
Most brokers are paid on commission, meaning they only receive payment once the house closes. Others use a fee for service or a team model. Understand how your broker is paid to fully understand their motivation.
Watch how the broker explains how they are paid, if they are nervous explaining this to you, they will be nervous presenting your offer or negotiating offers received on your house for sale. Do you want someone who is nervous negotiating the most expensive purchase of your lifetime to date?
6. What is my contracted timeframe for using you as my broker?
Typically, Buyer Agreements are set for 6 month period, but this is not set in stone. You can request a shorter timeline or longer timeline, depending on property and market conditions. Just understand how long you are committed to the person and what your recourse is if you decide to “fire” your broker.
In general, you are looking for a broker who is knowledgeable about the area you are looking to buy, who is confident in their ability to complete necessary paperwork accurately, and can confidently negotiate a transaction on your behalf. Finally, you will be working with this person for an extended amount of time, so you must feel comfortable asking questions and speaking with them personally.