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Find a Great Real Estate Agent in 10 Minutes by Asking 7 Questions

Written by Posted On Friday, 27 September 2013 11:54

A very strong argument can be made that the real estate industry is among the most distrusted by the public; agents tend to bring up the rear with the likes of car salesmen and lawyers. Clearly much of the blame belongs squarely on the shoulders of the industry itself; an earthworm can clear the standards bar. However, the bulk of the blame for subpar agent performance belongs to the public - the very clients that complain. Why isn't more expected from agents? In a field with little to no established performance standards, ridiculous self-aggrandizement and bogus production reporting, how are the qualified and high producing agents found? In about 15 minutes with seven direct questions:

1. Are you a full time agent?

Yes, this needs to be asked as many agents will dance when asked. The idea that some part time agents return calls or emails on their schedule is ludicrous; the responsibility of handling the client’s requirements mandates constant availability. 

2. How long have you been actively selling real estate and for whom?

Anyone with less than two years of full time work should be eliminated, that is just not enough time to fully grasp a market like this. A recognized firm is desired as they will typically have a full complement of resources available.

3. What are your personal production levels over the last three years?
If an agent can't live off their earnings, they are not producers. A full time agent should have at least 8-10 transactions per year personally completed, not as part of a team, an office or some other entity. Some agents tie into office or team production - focus on their production only and be certain to verify this.

4. Verify the figure you are provided and request a copy of their report.

Personal stats must be for the agent only - not a team or office. Request a copy of their personal production; this can be pulled off the MLS or from their brokerage firm.

5. Is your managing broker on site at your office and responsible for it?

Many discount firms have “broker pools” – not specific managing brokers that guide agents. When things go bad and that agent is clueless, will the broker step up?

6. Please provide five references over the last year that I can call.

This will verify experience with past clients and by keeping the date within a year; it will demonstrate experience in the current market. Call the references and ask questions.

7. Please provide a copy of your resume.

Every agent likely has an alphabet of nonsensical designations; most are obtained by writing a check. Many real estate designations were invented during the crash as a way of generating income for various associations - don't fall for the nonsense.

These are reasonable, direct questions; others can be added as needed. This type of prescreening should be completed ahead of any listing appointments or before meaningful meetings begin. Obviously there are a plethora of additional, more specific questions depending on the circumstances, but a few minutes spent ahead of time will save time and money down the road.

Selection of a real estate agent is arguably the single most important decision a buyer or seller makes. Until consumers demand high standards, the problem of inept and incompetent real estate agents will remain. Be certain to check SELECTING A REALTOR for current posts.

Hank Miller, SRA
Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser
Atlanta Communities Real Estate
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Hank Miller, SRA

Hank Miller is an Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser in the north metro Atlanta area. Since 1989, real estate has been his full time profession. Hank´s clients benefit from his appraisal and sales experience; they act upon data, not baseless opinions. He is an outspoken critic of the lax standards in the agent community.

Hank remains an active certified appraiser and completes specialty work for FNMA, lenders and attorneys. He is a well-known blogger and continues to guest write for multiple industry publications as well as national outlets like the WSJ, NYT, RE Magazine, USA Today and others. He is a regular on public Q&A sites on Zillow, Trulia and many others.

Hank consistently ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the metro Atlanta area. He runs the Hank Miller Team and is known as much for his ability as he is for his opinions. He is especially outspoken about the lack of professional standards and expectations in the real estate industry.


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