Who is your real estate agent?

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If you’ve made the decision not to go it alone and work with an agent, your next step will be picking one out. Many rely on the recommendations of friends, lawyers or accountants. Even with those recommendations, you should interview prospective agents.
Questions to ask:
Is this a career or a hobby for you?
The general real estate sales just means between 30 and 90 hours of class time

If you’ve made the decision not to go it alone and work with an agent, your next step will be picking one out. Many rely on the recommendations of friends, lawyers or accountants. Even with those recommendations, you should interview prospective agents.

Questions to ask:

Is this a career or a hobby for you?

The general real estate sales just means between 30 and 90 hours of class time in most states. So for many, this can be a part-time job. In the recent real estate boom, it’s become a popular second career. If someone has a broker’s license, that means they have more experience -- one to three years in most states. About half of real estate agents are Realtors, which just means they belong to the National Association of Realtors, a professional organization that comes with a code of ethics.

How long am I stuck with you?

Understand whether you are under any agreement to stick with this agent and for how long. At what point can you find a house or buyer on your own and not have to pay a commission?

Are you really working for the other side?

Buyers’ agents specialize in finding homes for buyers. They know the local market and will work it on your behalf. Because the commission really comes from the seller, buyers have to be sure to avoid someone working on the seller’s behalf. If you pick up a flyer from a For Sale sign, for example, odds are you’ll be calling the seller’s agent. They’re already obligated to work to get the best price for the seller. So, don’t tell them you’re really willing to pay more than you’re offering now. Agents have an extra incentive to sell the homes listed with their firm, so some chosoe an Exclusive Buyers Agent. They don’t take any listings.

Do you know my turf?

Make sure you get an agent that is familiar with both your neighborhood and houses in your price range. Ask what the average price of a home is they sold last year. If you’re selling or only looking at a certain type of home, say, a condominium, ask how well they know that market.

What’s your rate?

Normally seller’s pay a commission of 5-7 percent, which is split so each the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent get about 3 percent. Some agents are negotiable, though. Just like in the stock market, there are discount brokers who may offer you fewer services for a lower rate.

What exactly am I paying for?

Sellers need to comparison shop the services and philosophy of each agent. How will they get your house in front of the most buyers? Do they believe in open houses? What kind of advertising and Web presence do they have? Will it be on the Multiple Listing Service?

Buyers want to know how much attention they’ll get from their agent. That may translate to the number of leads or willingness to show many houses.

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