5 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Buyers Agent

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Purchasing the wrong home in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time can cost a home buyer money, peace of mind, and cause undo stress for years on end. So why do many buyers pick their closest friend or the first referral that comes along to be their buyer’s agent? For starters, they might think the job, of being a buyer’s agent, isn’t a big deal. Open doors, write up an offer. But for those that have owned multiple homes or moved around a bit, they know how to choose the best buyer’s agent that will not only open a door for them, but will also help them make the best possible decision for themselves or their family – for years to come.

1. How many years have you been licensed in my state? How many times did you close a sale for a buyer, and where can I see that record?

Experience with State Laws Matter. A lot of consumer confusion in the real estate industry comes from widely varying real estate laws and traditions from one state to the next. Each state has a particular set of laws that apply to all local real estate transactions and the agents in that state have certain traditional expectations that might differ (at every stage, from showing homes to making offers, to negotiating inspections, to close). If the agent is only recently licensed in the state you want to buy in, there might not be nearly as experienced as they sound.

Experience Matters to Protect You From Home Hazards. We have a lot of potential home hazards in the greater Portland metro. These hazards if not identified, can cost the home buyer tens of thousands of dollars. Asbestos, earthquakes, fires, floods, mold growth, landslides, radon gas, broken sewer lines, and buried oil tanks only start the list. The general home inspection is not designed to catch all of these potential problems. An experienced buyers agent, based on the house and location, will know what additional tests should be ordered and recommend them to you. This sort of knowledge comes best through experience and training.

Experience Matters in Negotiations and Market Timing

There is a best time to buy and a best time to sell a home in the greater Portland metro area each year. Buying in the right month can save a new home owner tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the timing is flexible this is the first step in working for your client’s advantage. Buyer’s agents that always say now is a great time to buy, aren’t advising their clients on the seasonal ups and downs of our local real estate market. Timing of course, is only the start to negotiations. An experienced buyer’s agent will know if a property is over or under priced for the immediate area and even the street, that home finds itself on. When home inspections roll around, an experienced buyer’s agent will be able to gauge how much the potential problems and repairs will cost over time and be able to negotiate the right credit in compensation, or find the right bid to get the job done in a timely manner.

Experience Matters in Winning Bidding Wars

If a homeowner prices a desirable home in a hot neighborhood for under market value, a bidding war is going to happen nearly every time, even in a down market. If you or your family really must have that particular home, an experienced buyer’s agent will know what it takes to win out in a bidding war. Keep in mind, if you can avoid a bidding war, that is typically in your best interest. A good buyer’s agent will recommend you look hard and long at any homes for sale that match your criteria and have been on the market for more than a weekend. In fact, you can search for Portland homes for sale that have been on the market for at least a week using our home search platform here.

Be Careful. Verify.

Ask to see their sales record. If they are truly experienced, this request will not offend them, they will be excited to share it with you. Every agent can provide evidence of their sales record off their local MLS.

2. Will I be able to see any home I want the same day I want to see it? How will you accomplish this?

New real estate agents have plenty of time to show you whatever you want. That’s great. But while they can get that door open for you, do you really want them to negotiation your hundreds of thousands or million dollar plus purchase? Experienced agents are the best negotiators, but what happens if they are too busy to get you inside the home you desperately want to purchase (most showings in our area are appointment only)? This problem is often solved with small teams. The most experienced agent does all the negotiations on your behalf and views the home you end up picking. Then that buyer’s agent has a couple of licensed teammates who can help open any door, any day. That’s how our top 1% buyer’s agent, Kami Price, does it. She has been licensed since 2004, and has helped many hundreds of home buyers purchase their next best home.

3. What loan programs do you recommend today and why?

There are local and national home buyer grants for first timers, but also for repeat buyers. Typically there are lower income requirements, but if the home buyer might fit the bill, the buyer’s agent should know and help them obtain that free money.

There are tons of different national loan programs out there, but sometimes a local lender or credit union will have the best offering.

4. Do you have any coming soon (pocket) listings you can share with me now? How will you share them with me while I’m looking?

Pocket listings as you might know them, are rightfully banned in our area. But coming soon listings are a powerful tool buyer’s agents can use to help out their clients. A home buyer cannot see coming soon listings, they are not publicly listed. Coming soon listings are located in the members-only section of our local MLS and they tell buyer’s agents what homes are coming up where and for how much. Now, the local rules say you can’t go see these homes in advance, but you can know the day they’ll hit the market and make sure your homes of interest are on your touring calendar.

5. What is the most important thing to you in this business?

Ultimately you have to know if the buyer’s agent you’re interviewing is a good fit for you. I’ve found asking this open-ended question can help give you some insight into their way of doing business. Is communication the most important thing to a buyer’s agent? Is it finding the right house? Is it negotiating the best deal? There is more than one right answer.

Interview Kami Price, Realtor

Licensed since 2004, Kami has represented many hundreds of home buyers. Not satisfied with being an average buyer’s agent specialist, she has earned numerous certifications and designations along the way. Her and her small team are local experts and want to take your call today. In the greater Portland metro area call 503-773-0000 and in SW Washington call 360-345-3833 to schedule your interview.

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What My Clients Are Saying

Stephen uses his broad knowledge of the market and his well-polished marketing skills to list houses at the maximum they can and will sell for. He is extremely adept at orchestrating all of the selling details and I look forward to doing business with him again.

Ben