Buyer Interview Questions

My goal for posting these questions is for buyers everywhere to hire the right agent for the job. And my goal for answering them is to do a pre-interview online so buyers searching in our area can get to know me before we set up an official interview.Thanks for reading!Experience Questions:

• How many people are you currently assisting in finding a house? On average, I usually have at least 3 or 4 buyers that I actively work with at a time.

• How many buyers will you work with at one time? How many sellers? The maximum amount of buyers I will work with at one time is eight. Please keep in mind I am on a team of three smart, hard-working, licensed agents as well as an amazing operations manager to help me show homes if it is a particularly busy time in the market. I’m not sure how agents work this business individually anymore, I’m a big fan of team work! I’ve had 10 listings at one time during the summer. Typically, agents can handle more listings than buyers. Buyers require 5-10 more hours of work on average.

• Will you be representing other buyers who are looking for homes in the same area and price range as we are? Possibly. This situation happens, yet it happens rarely to me. I will talk with both buyers about the situation and do what the client wants me to do. If one of the buyers is uncomfortable with the situation, then I can have another agent on my team step in to help them. I’ve never had two buyers be exactly alike in their wants and needs, even if they are alike in price range and area.

• How many homes, on average, do you show your buyers? This depends on the market. In a buyers market, there are more homes to see. Buyers on average will see 5 to 15 homes. In a sellers market, it’s usually closer to 5 homes. My goal is always to find the home within 5 homes in either market.
• What is your experience in the locations we are looking at? I’ve sold homes in Austin and in every suburban city surrounding Austin, from Georgetown to Buda. I’ve been a Realtor since 2016 and have lived Downtown, Dripping Springs, and now South Austin. My team lives in Leader and Cedar Park so we confidently have the greater Austin area covered!

• What percentage of the homes you’ve sold or located are in our search area? This will be specific to the buyer that is interviewing me. Happy to provide this information.

• Do you specialize in a certain area of town? No, I work all of Austin and the surrounding areas. I can advise you to make a good investment and smart real estate decisionin any area of town (that is if you have already picked the area of town you want to live, many times I am advising on this question first).

• Do you have a price-range you specialize in? No, I’ve worked in the $100K price range and the $10,000,000 price range (and everything in between). I’m in this business to help people, no matter what price range they are seeking.

• How many homes did you sell in the past year as a buyer’s agent? My team has helped more than 100 buyers and sellers per year since 2013.

• How do you stay up on current trends? Do you take classes or frequently attend training? I attend classes monthly if not weekly depending on the time of year. I’m in an office with 500+ agents and I believe in strength in numbers in this business. If something is happening or about to happen in the market, most likely I know about it- thanks to my office and the amount of business that we do. Be weary of the lone agent that doesn’t have a big office. Unless they are constantly researching and reading the news, it’s unlikely they have the current trends knowledge base that I do being with a big office like Keller Williams Northwest Austin.

• How do you stay up on proposed developments that will impact a property? My team started in this business in a commercial real estate office and have experience working on commercial zoning projects. Understanding the rezoning process can really give an agent insight into how commercial development will impact a home or neighborhood. The best place in Austin to stay up on proposed developments is the Austin Business Journal, attend a city council meeting and/or pay a visit to the development department of the city. I will help you with all of these things if you are focusing on a property that may be effected by commercial development or zoning.Price/Financing Questions

• How do we know if this is the right time to buy? This is a question that I will help each individualbuyer analyze. Considerations will include whether you have been renting or own a home. If renting, I’ve helped too many buyers choose the right area make good money on homes in a 3-5 year period, just on appreciation alone. Many times it’s more money than clients have in their IRAs or 401Ks. Real estate can be such a great investment.

• Will you help us decide if our desired price range is appropriate? Can you help us choose a good price range? Yes I can! I worked as a mortgage lender for three years, giving me the knowledge to guide you to where your comfortability level resides and answer all the up-front questions you might have. Specializing in first-time home buyers, there is no question too big or too small, ask away! I will always refer you to the most experienced and trusted lender I know to help you navigate the mortgage lending waters, it can be a lot in conjunction with buying a home. I will help guide you on what areas are best for the price range in which you are pre-approved. I also advise to choose a price range with a monthly payment in which you are very comfortable paying and be as conservative as possible. I want home-ownership to empower you, not stress you out when you make your monthly payment.

• How will you help us determine if our down-payment is appropriate? This will depend on the financial and real estate market. At the moment, it is such a strong sellers market that showing at least 20% down on your offer will communicate to the seller that you are a strong buyer and will help us when we are competing against other offers.

• How can you help us determine if an offer we make is good one? When you want to make an offer on a home, we will discuss the sold prices of comparable properties and current market conditions. I also have the advantage that I’m with an office with more than 500 agents and involved in many transactions throughout the year, so I can help you write an offer according to the negotiation style you want and rate of success you desire.
• How will you leverage the best deal for us? We will discuss reasonable expectations for the definition what getting a “deal” in our current market means.

How will you handle multiple offers? Thankfully, I am very successful at winning in multiple-offer situations for my clients. I have some strategies that we can discuss and implement if you like. Remember, you are the boss. I am going to present to you all of the options and tell you which one I think is best and then you are in charge of deciding how we handle the multiple-offer based on my consultation.

• Tell us about the inspection process. How do we renegotiate the offer if the inspection reveals a problem? Will you attend our inspection? I have a list of inspectors that I trust and work with regularly. I will get bids and availability from them and then let you choose whom you want to move forward with unless you have an inspector you would like to use already. I always attend the inspection review with the inspector at the property. I do also recommend buyers attend the inspection to learn more about the home.If repairs are necessary, this is how I suggest we negotiate: 1.My buyers safety is of the utmost importance to me. If anything on the report needs to be repaired that may effect your safety or health when you move in the home, then these are items that we must remedy first.2. Any repairs that are lender required. 3. I will get you estimates on the remaining repairs, so we can either ask the seller to make the repairs, discount the sales price or give you money towards closings costs so that you may monitor the repairs on your own.

• What are the average closing costs your buyers have had recently? Are there possible hidden/ costs we might encounter? Average costs to buy a home to expect will be 2-3% of the home value that you will need to bring to closing on top of your down payment. The lender will give you an estimate showing you all of the fees involved. Some of those costs involve setting up the escrow account so that your lender can pay your tax bill at the end of the year. Other costs to expect, depending on the size and age of the home $350-$600 for home inspection, $500 if home is on septic (pumping and inspection), many older homes need a plumbing test $400. $400-$600 for appraisal once under contract, 1% of sales price will be needed for an earnest money check (this will be credited back to you at closing) and $150 – $400 for termination option money check.Misc. Questions

• How are you compensated? The Seller’s Agent/Broker pays me a commission only if the home closes.

• Will you always be the one showing us houses and contacting the seller’s agent? Yes. My licensed showing assistant may show you some homes if I am not available.

• How accessible are you since we may have to act within hours on a property? How often will we talk to you? You can text/email/call me anytime. I have a team of 4 agents and 3 licensed assistants that will be able to help us see a home if we need to within hours (if I am not available).

• How much notice do you need if we want to look at a home? Most homes require an hour. Some require up to 24 hours. As much notice as we can give, the better.

• What are your negotiation techniques? My first priority is to present you with the different options and strategies I can use to negotiate on your behalf and then let you choose (I will tell you which one I think is best, of course). Point is that I will not negotiate a certain way without your permission. I hold your interest above my own and have a fiduciary duty to you.

• How will you search for properties that may not be listed in MLS (those sold by the owner)? I’m always on the hunt for “coming soon” properties. I will also call other dominant and active agents in the area to find these properties. It also helps I’m with a big office and company that does more business than any company in town.

•How do you represent us in a for sale by owner situation? Many FSBO sellers are still offering to pay a commission to buyer’s agents in our market. Let me call on your behalf to get more information and set up a showing. If the FSBO seller does not want to work with agents, I can step back and still help keep you protected through the process. I’ve been very successful working with FSBO sellers and my buyers to make a deal work.

• What about foreclosure situations? How do those work? In my opinion, the least risky foreclosures to buy are the ones listed in the MLS by an REO specialist. I will set up a private website for you to view homes and this will also include foreclosure homes on the market and I will email you as new properties are listed or prices are adjusted. If you want to pursue bidding on foreclosures posted on the court house steps, I suggest this type of purchase for buyers that have a lot of cash on hand and that are comfortable purchasing a home without viewing it first and without title insurance. And another thought to add to this question, many of the foreclosures in our market are homes that were rejected by the market when the owners tried to sell before foreclosure. I often see history repeat itself in this business and this should be seen as a warning that if you bought that foreclosure property, the same fate my face you if you needed to sell (depending on the market, of course).

• Do I need a Realtor when I buy a new home (rather than a resale)? Anytime you a buy a home, new or resale, hiring a Realtor with experience to look after your best interests through the process is a must! New homes especially come with unique challenges throughout the process. You can make so many mistakes while building a home or buying a spec home. For example, picking the wrong lot, over-improving the home, risking earnest money before you know the final cost of your home (that one is my favorite that many builders like to do to buyers in our market). My team has a separate set of checklists for purchasing a new home that will help keep the process as smooth as possible for you. Final Questions• What expectations do you have of us as the buyer? I always turn this around and ask what expectations you have of me as your agent. My clients and peers unanimously say I go above and beyond in exceeding expectations set before me. I would imagine your expectations for me are what you expect of yourself as well, so we are almost always aligned.I’m never going to be an agent that will pressure you into buying a home. We could work together for a year and not find your perfect home and that would be totally fine. I want to give you all of the information you need to make the best decision for yourself. Buying a home is a journey and I want to make it as pleasant and smooth as I can for you- shoot, even fun!

• What questions did we not ask? I think a smart question to ask is whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market. If you are interviewing more than one agent for the job, this is a great question to ask every agent. I’m surprised how many agents listen to the national news to answer this question. During the recession, many agents in Austin would tell you it’s a buyer’s market. Yet, my answer would be it would depends on the neighborhood or part of the city, and then explain how to calculate and determine buyers/sellers market. I won’t go into it with this answer, yet I’ve seen even certain streets within neighborhoods be a buyer’s market and the rest of the neighborhood be a seller’s market. This is knowledge you need whether you are buying or selling that will help you during negotiations and with your expectations for the sale. So important and not many agents know how to calculate this correctly.

Seller Interview Questions

Interview Questions for your Listing Agent

What a big decision! Interviewing and hiring a listing agent will be the most important step in the home selling process. This is the make or break moment that will decide whether this process will be smooth and less stressful for you…or the opposite.

Here is a list of interview questions to help! And if you are interviewing our team to get your home sold, then we have included our answers to help you get familiar with how we work to provide the best service and, most importantly, fetch the most money in the least amount of time, while protecting our clients’ liability throughout the process (If you are also going to be buying a home, here are Interview Questions for Buyers Agents and my answers to help get the ball rolling. Ask us about your discount incentive when we help you Sell and Buy a home). 

Side note: This post is long and extremely detailed. We appreciate you taking the time to read it before we meet. We are one of the top real estate teams in Central Texas and we are passionate about serving our clients at the highest level possible! And please review the Information About Brokerage Services, as I am legally obliged to provide you if you are considering hiring our team to work for you. I am licensed to sell real estate in Texas. 

We hope this blog will help anyone that reads it make the best decision when they are choosing an agent to help them or be a guide if you are thinking of selling your home on your own. And we further wish to help all brokers and agents in our industry raise their standard of service and improve the reputation of the real estate profession.

On to the interview!

1. How are you different from other agents?  

I love this question because there is only one way to answer it correctly and that is using statistics. My listings sell 111% faster and for .79% higher than the average agent in our market (this is calculated from listings sold starting 2016-August 2017).  

What does this mean for you? Our average days on market was 14 days versus 49 days and our average list price to sales price ratio was 99.15% versus 98.36%. If you take the average sales price in Austin of $309,882, this means that our clients, on average, put nearly $4,000 more dollars in their pocket (including fees).

If an agent can not provide these statistics then be weary of hiring them. This is also the agent that is going to offer to discount commission to win your listing. Without knowing these statistics, you are taking a big risk and will most likely end up losing more money than you were trying to save. And our team has a flexible fee structure to cover all scenarios to assure that you are making the most money when you sell your home. 

Go ahead, say it. You thought we were all alike, right?  Our team provides service and marketing that many agents would not even know how to implement (we will explain more of this below). 

2.  Are you a full-time agent? How much experience do you have?  

All great questions. Yes, I am a full-time Broker-Associate with Keller Williams Realty, Inc. (licensed since 2004) and CEO of Ivy Blessing Realty, LLC. Not only am I full time, I have the most amazing team that works with me that includes a Buyer’s Agent, Full Time Operations Manager, Full Time Administrator, Transaction Coordinator and Marketing Manager. We also work with the best loan officer, escrow officer, stager and photographer in town. Yes, it takes a village to do this job properly and bring success at a high level. 

You may be asking, why do you need so many people? If you are interviewing an agent that works as an individual, my advice would be to move forward with that agent if you are their ONLY client.  There are 180 steps to preparing to list and get a home sold. What do you think happens when an individual agent gets more than one client? Yes, that is when some of the steps get skipped that will cost you money and/or that is when agents are unable to return phone calls when you need them or answer the phone when a prospect for your home is calling. (And side note, if you are their only client, which for the average agent is most likely true because the average agent sells 12 homes a year versus our average of 5 a month, then this agent is most likely not making enough money to market your home properly).

3. Will I be able to get a hold of you when I need talk to you? 

Another great question! We do our best to answer the phone whenever possible. This is another advantage to working with a team. If we are unable to answer the phone, we encourage the caller to send a text (and all team members can see this text and we have an agent on duty to assist outside of regular business hours. This agent will begin working on their request and text/call them back asap.) We often hear from prospects, “I called 5 agents and you were the only one that answered the phone or called me back right away.” Again, individual agents get busy in our industry and overwhelmed and stop answering the phone when they get too many clients at once (just like a waiter at a restaurant that is given too many tables to serve at once).  This is giving our profession a bad reputation unfortunately. 

4. How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?

I’ve sold more than 200 homes from Buda to Georgetown. I have not sold in every neighborhood in our market. The success of our team’s marketing and organizational systems work in every neighborhood. We do not work in one area or price point because we are in this to help people (And I say this because you know there are agents only interested in taking yours listing if you are luxury or priced in the millions because they only want to sell 3-4 homes a year and vacation the rest of the time. My team sold 128 homes in 2016. We are in this business to help people and protect them throughout the home selling process, whether their home is priced at $100,000 or $100,000,000.)

5. What marketing will you do to get my home sold and what do you do that is different from other agents? 

We will cover a lot of this when we meet, as many of our marketing strategies are proprietary and we can not post them here. Some of our strategies most agents wouldn’t even begin to know how to implement. Here are some highlights from our marketing plan that may be implemented when we list your home: 

·                Mobile Marketing Strategy (Buyers do not have their computers with them all the time, majority are out driving around looking up things on their phone. Does your agent have a mobile marketing plan? Most do not. We do. And the #1 goal is to talk to that person looking up your home, get them pre-qualified and get them in the home asap.)

·                SEO Strategy (Search Engine Optimization) Google is the #1 site on the Internet. What plan does your agent have to get your property on the first page and at the top of Google? This plan should include securing key words, using blog and video, etc. We will show you this when we meet.

·                MLS Strategy  One MLS does not cut it these days, we have the ability to list on up to 3 that are locally and internationally in 19 different languages and 55 different currencies.

·                Professional Photography This should be a standard now for home selling and I cringe when this not the case. So important to look good on the Internet.

·                Professional Stager  We pay for the consultation and the stager’s goal is to use your furniture and items to make the home look amazing for the photos and showings. You may elect to rent or buy furniture, yet we can discuss if this would be beneficial or not.

·                3D Matterport Virtual Tour and Floor Plan: I also cringe when a “virtual tour” is marketed and it’s a glorified slide show. That’s not how we market. See a sample here. This is imperative for proper Internet marketing and has helped us attract more out of state buyers.  Side Note: The out-of-state buyer that is relocating for a job that is in town for one weekend to find the right home, statistically pays the most for homes. If you are planning to put your home on Zillow and sell your home on your own (which I completely respect and have a flexible fee structure to cover this scenario if this is the case) then you are most likely missing out on this buyer! You will attract plenty of investors, un-prequalified and un-serious lookey-loo buyers that will waste your time and tons of calls from agents claiming to have a buyer that really just wants to list your home. If you still want to go this direction without the help of a professional like me with proven success, then at the very least offer to pay a commission or fee to a buyer’s agent/representative. This buyer doesn’t have much time to find a home and they are for sure working with one when they are in town that weekend to find their home. 

·                Pricing Strategy (Another cringe worthy strategy many agents are doing completely wrong and could cost you big money. Such a pet-peeve of mine. Let’s talk about this when we meet.) Also, when the situation calls for it, we will consult with an appraiser regarding your price. Unless we hook a cash buyer (which many times we do) then the buyer is going to be financing and the bank is going to hire an appraiser to give an opinion of market value. This is where many deals will die with a less experienced agent. My experience and consultation with appraisers will play a big part in the success of your home sale, starting with the price you choose to enter the market and/or providing a rebuttal when the home appraises lower than sales price. So important to talk with your agent about his/her experience in this realm.

6. What is your negotiation experience and strategy?   

Another question in which there is only one right answer and many agents are going to get this wrong. I negotiate for you based on how YOU want me to negotiate for you. You are the boss. And I come across so many agents that do not work this way. For instance, an agent should not tell me they have another offer on the way unless their client has approved it. And agents do this all the time without thinking about it when I ask. 

 As your listing agent, I have a fiduciary duty to you and to hold your interests above my own. I will advise you with the different choices in every situation and tell you which choice I think is best and then proceed based on your decision. I take this job very seriously and the fiduciary duty. This is another aspect of the job in which other agents in the industry are not performing correctly. 

7. How much does it cost to sell my home? What fees should I expect?

 During our meeting and once we agree on the list price, we will review a Seller Net Estimate document that I calculate for you. By the way, this is another skill that I find many agents do not know how to do. Sad, yet true. If your agent does not offer to do this for you, run. Fees could add up to 7-10% of your sales price depending on your tax rate and if you escrow your property taxes, HOA resale certificate and transfer fees, title insurance fee, recording fee, survey, repairs, and commission. We want you to be fully prepared when you list your home. This is a very important step of the process. 

8. How do you handle an intermediary status?  

This means the buyer is unrepresented by an agent or the buyer is represented by another agent in my office, of it is a buyer that has hired me to represent them and they want to buy your home. Again, you are the boss and we will handle the scenario based on your decision. I will present to you all of the different options (and pros and cons) and we will review and put in writing what the rules are with each scenario when you make this decision. And most importantly, my goals is that you feel comfortable and protected throughout the selling process and that you understand every decision you are making during the process. Also important to note, I am not allowed to represent both the seller and the buyer in a transaction.  This is not allowed.

9. How extensive is your knowledge of the market? 

This is an important question! And this is another question in which most agents do not know how to answer correctly. Every agent should know how to calculate absorption rate and tell you whether it is a buyers’ market, sellers’ market or balanced market at a macro and/or micro level for your market. Most agents get their market knowledge from the media. The newspaper may say it’s a strong Sellers’ market, yet your neighborhood may be a buyers’ market at the moment. Ask your agent what kind of market it is at the moment and how they calculate, track it and interpret this information for you while your home is listed. Ask them how many month’s of inventory you currently have in your neighborhood?  A Sellers’ market is less than 5 months of inventory, a balanced market is 5-7 months of inventory and a Buyer’s market is more than 7 months of inventory (this is also important to review absorption rate per price point). 

10. What if I am not happy with your service and I want to cancel the listing? 

All of our listing contracts are “no pressure” agreements. This means you can cancel at anytime and you will not be charged a fee (double check other agents are not charging you a fee please, I had one past client get charged $1500 after he terminated the listing. I’m not a fan of these fees.) I’m also not a fan of sellers feeling “stuck” with their listing agent till the last day of the contract. If I am not getting the job done and you are not satisfied with my service, please cancel. I always offer this, yet have had very few clients use it unless they decide not to sell their home. 

There are many more great questions you could ask. Yet, I think these are the most important to ask and will help you gauge the knowledge and experience of the agent you are interviewing. 

Thank you for reading and reviewing! Please comment or message me to discuss further. 

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