Ask Your Maryland Real Estate Agent
1. Are you a full-time professional Realtor®? How long have you worked
full time serving Maryland real estate clients? How long have you been representing buyers?
What professional designations do you have?
Knowing whether or not your Realtor® practices real estate on a full-time
basis can give you a piece of the puzzle in foreseeing scheduling
conflicts and, overall, his or her commitment to your transaction.
As with any profession, the number of years a person has been in
the business does not necessarily reflect the level of service you
can expect, but it is a good starting point for your discussion.
The same issue can apply to professional designations.
2. Do you have a personal assistant, team, or staff to handle different
parts of the purchase transaction? What are their names and how
will each of them help me in my transaction? How do I communicate
It is not uncommon for high Maryland real estate sales producers to hire people
to work for them or with them. They typically work on a referral
basis, and, as their businesses grow, they must be able to deliver
the same or higher quality service to more clients.
You may want to be clear about who on the team will take part in your transaction,
and what role each person will play. You may even want to meet the
other team members before you decide to work with the team overall.
If you needed help with a certain part of your home purchase, who
should you talk to and how would you communicate? If you have a
question about fees on your closing statement, who would handle
that? Who will show up to your closing? These are just a few of
the many important considerations in working with a team.
3. Do you and/or your company each have a website that will provide me
with useful information for research, services, and how you work
with buyers? Can I have those Web addresses now? And who does the
emails? Can I have the email address now?
Many homebuyers prefer to search online for homes and home buying information.
There are certain privacy and comfort levels that you might appreciate
in starting a preliminary search this way, and often it is just
a matter of convenience, having 24-hour access to information. By
searching the Realtor®’s and the company’s Web sites, you will
get a clear picture of how much work you would be able to accomplish
online, and whether or not that suits your preferences. When I have
a question, how quickly do you respond to emails?
4. Will you show me properties from other companies’ listings?
Some real estate companies do offer their buyers’ agents a higher commission
if they are able to sell “in-house” listings. In such
circumstances, there can be added incentive to show you a more limited
range of homes than you might consider. If this is the case with
your Realtor®, you should be very clear on how this will impact
your home search, if at all. You also should determine it this affects
how much your buyer agents fee will be.
5. Will you represent me or will you represent the seller? May I have that
in writing? How will you represent me, and what is the direct benefit
of having you represent me?
The goal here is to ascertain to whom the Realtor® has legal fiduciary
obligation, which may vary from state to state or even locale to
locale. In the past, Realtors® always worked for sellers. Then
the listing broker was responsible for paying the agent or sub-agent
that brought a suitable buyer for the home. And even though the
buyer worked ‘with’ an agent, the agent still represented and owed
their fiduciary duty to the seller.
An additional situation in some states is dual agency. This is where the buyer
decides to have the listing agent prepare the offer for him. A knowledgeable
buyer may elect this situation which should be fully disclosed to
all parties. In some states it also affects the broker’s/agent’s
fiduciary responsibilities to the seller.
Although Realtors® today almost always have a sense of moral obligation
to buyers, this original type of seller agency still exists in certain
areas. In other areas, a formal method of buyer representation called
Buyer Agency exists to protect buyers. Find out what is available
in your area and make yourself comfortable with the extent to which
you will be represented.
6. How will you get paid? How are your fees structured? May I have that
This is an issue that can also be related to agency. In many areas, the
seller still customarily pays all Realtor® commissions through
the listing broker. Sometimes, Realtors® will have other small
fees, such as administrative or special service fees, that are charged
to clients, regardless of whether they are buying or selling. Be
aware of the big picture before you sign any agreements. Ask for
an estimate of buyer costs from any agent you contemplate employing.
7. What distinguishes you from other Realtors®? What is your negotiating
style and how does it differ from those of other Realtors®?
What geographic areas to you specialize in?
It should be important to know that your Realtor® has unique methods of
overcoming obstacles and is an effective negotiator on your behalf,
but most importantly that your Realtor® can advocate for you
in the most effective ways.
8. Will you give me names of past clients who will give references for you?
Interviewing a Realtor® to help you buy a home can be very similar to interviewing
someone to work in your office. Contacting a Realtor®’s references
can be a reliable way for you to understand how he or she works,
and whether or not this style is compatible with your own.
9. Do you have a performance guarantee? If I am not satisfied with your
performance, can I terminate our Buyer Agency Agreement?
Understand that, especially in the heavily regulated world of real estate,
it can be increasingly difficult for a Realtor® to offer a performance
guarantee. Sometimes you may find a Realtor® who is willing
to guarantee that if you are dissatisfied in any way with their
service they will terminate your Buyer Agency Agreement. If your
Realtor® does not have a performance guarantee available in
writing, it is not an indication that he or she is not committed
to perform, but rather that he or she is willing to verbally promise
some kind of performance standard. In fact, Realtors® at Keller
Williams Realty understand the importance of win-win business relationships,
and that the Realtor® does not benefit if the client does not
10. How will you keep in contact with me during the buying process,
and how often?
It’s a good idea for you to set your expectations reasonably in
accordance with how your Realtor® conducts business. You may
be looking for an agent to call, fax, or email you every evening
to tell you about properties that meet your criteria which are new
on the market. On the other hand, your Realtor® may have access
to systems that will notify clients of new properties as they come
on the market (which could happen several times a day or several
times a week). Asking this extra question can help you to reconcile
your needs with your Realtor®’s systems, which makes for a far
more satisfying relationship.
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