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What Questions Should You Be Asking Brokers?

Ask a Sales Broker... is part of Curbed University's attempts to give you the best non-boring advice on buying, selling and renting in the Hub. Our expert answerer is Nick Warren of Warren Residential. Go ahead and email your questions or leave them via the Comments button to the upper right.

A reader wrote in:
I have a question for sales brokers: What questions should I be asking sales brokers? I'm not sure if this is really what you're asking, but I wanted to know what kinds of questions I should be asking of brokers.

Here's Nick Warren's answer:
Thanks for the question. I'm assuming you are wondering what type of questions you should ask a broker/agent prior to working with them, almost like an interview? If that is the case, then there are a couple of factors I'd recommend focusing on: performance and personality.

The process is very similar to dating. Usually, you first look for someone who is good on paper (i.e., has a job, attractive, not a serial killer, etc.), but then finally make the decision if they are worth dating by the connection you have with their personality. A lot of buyers and sellers don't realize how important personality and that connection is when picking an agent to work with. Remember, you are probably going to be spending a lot of time together and making the biggest financial decision of your life with their help so having a good personal connection with them is very important.

So, questions to ask in regard to performance are:
1. Have you sold property or represented buyers in the locations I'm looking at?
2. Do you have any past clients who I could talk to about their experience working with you?
3. If they are marketing a property for you, what is the process from beginning to end? What efforts will that agent put forth to get your home sold? Are they taking photos with their iPhone and throwing it on MLS and hoping; or do they have a full-fledged marketing plan that takes you from beginning to end?
3. If they are a newer agent, ask who else will be overseeing the process. All agents get their start somewhere and sometimes a newer agent has more to prove, so they will work harder than someone who has been doing it for years. You just want to make sure that someone with experience is looking over their shoulder and able to step in for things like negotiating, etc.

Personality is a tougher factor to determine by just asking questions since it's not so cut and dry. However, I'd recommend asking questions about how they work with clients to see if it lines up with what your expectations are. For example, some clients are very comfortable browsing open houses by themselves while others want their hand held through every step. Some ground rules should be set by both parties to ensure a successful relationship. Good luck!
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