15 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent Before You Buy or Sell a Home

Are you buying or selling a home? Then it is essential to find a reliable real estate agent. Not only do they have the expertise and experience necessary to make sure you get the best deal possible on your sale or purchase, but their knowledge of the local market can help guide your decision. But how do you know which real estate agent is right for you? That’s where our list of 15 questions comes in handy; by asking an experienced agent these questions, you can make well-informed decisions when making that all-important investment in property.

Questions to Ask All Real Estate Agents Before Hiring

Are You A Full-Time Agent?

part time vs. full time

Commissions in the real estate industry can be quite rewarding, but their unpredictability often results in a large number of part-time agents. Working with an agent who is either managing another career or enjoying semi-retirement can lead to frustration and introduce unnecessary risks to your home-buying or selling experience. To avoid these pitfalls, it is crucial to partner with a full-time agent.

A full-time agent will have a more up-to-date understanding of the market, enabling them to provide better advice and guidance throughout the process. Since real estate is their primary focus, they are also more likely to respond to your inquiries in a timely manner and without distractions from other professional obligations.

When working with an agent who has another career and assists clients on a part-time basis, you may find yourself having to accommodate their schedule for property viewings and discussions. This lack of flexibility can be challenging, especially when time is of the essence in making an offer or negotiating a deal.

Speed and availability are critical factors in the fast-paced world of real estate. A full-time agent is more likely to be readily accessible, ensuring that you don’t miss out on potential opportunities or face delays in closing a transaction. Additionally, their commitment to their profession often translates into stronger negotiation skills, which can be advantageous when trying to secure the best possible price for a property.

How Many Homes Do You Close Each Year?


An agent who closes a higher number of homes each year generally has more experience in navigating the complexities of real estate transactions. They are likely to be well-versed in handling various situations that may arise during the process, such as negotiating offers, addressing inspection issues, and working through financing challenges. This level of expertise can be especially beneficial if you’re a first-time homebuyer or seller, as an experienced agent can guide you through the process with confidence.

The number of homes an agent closes each year can also be an indicator of their overall success rate. A higher number of closed deals suggests that the agent is proficient in marketing properties, finding suitable buyers or sellers, and successfully completing transactions. This can give you peace of mind knowing that you’re working with a professional who has a proven track record of delivering results.

An agent who closes multiple homes annually is likely to have a strong understanding of the local market conditions and trends. Their knowledge of the market can help you make informed decisions when setting a price for your home or determining what to offer on a property you’re interested in purchasing. Additionally, an agent who is active in the market will likely have a solid network of contacts, including other agents, mortgage brokers, inspectors, and attorneys, which can be invaluable resources throughout the buying or selling process.

Do You Have References I can contact?

Speaking with an agent’s past clients can give you a better understanding of the agent’s level of professionalism. You can learn about their responsiveness, attention to detail, and how well they managed the entire process. This information can help you determine if the agent will be a good fit for your specific needs and preferences.

References can also provide information on the agent’s overall effectiveness in meeting their clients’ goals. You can inquire about the agent’s negotiation skills, their ability to secure the best possible price, and how smoothly the transaction was completed. This feedback can help you gauge whether the agent has the necessary skills and experience to successfully guide you through the complex world of real estate.

Acquiring references from a real estate agent demonstrates their transparency and willingness to have their work scrutinized. This openness can help build trust between you and the agent, knowing that they are confident in the quality of their service and the satisfaction of their previous clients.

Will I Be Working With You Individually, or With Your Team?

team on the phone and computers

Working with an individual agent might mean more direct and personalized attention, as they will be your single point of contact for all aspects of the transaction. This can be beneficial if you prefer a more hands-on approach and closer communication with your agent. However, working with a team can offer additional support and resources, as each team member may have specific areas of expertise that can contribute to a smoother transaction. This can be especially advantageous when dealing with complex situations or tight deadlines, as multiple team members can work on different tasks simultaneously.

If you’re working with an individual agent, their availability and responsiveness might be limited by their workload and other commitments. On the other hand, a team of agents can provide more consistent and timely communication, as there is likely always someone available to address your concerns or answer your questions. This can be particularly important during time-sensitive stages of the home buying or selling process.

When working with many agents as a team, you may benefit from the collective knowledge and experience of multiple agents. This can lead to more informed decision-making and a broader perspective on market trends, pricing strategies, and negotiation tactics.

How Does Your Commission Work?

man holding out money

Real estate agents typically work on a commission basis, which means they earn a percentage of the final sale price of a property once the transaction has been completed. This commission is usually split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. In most cases, the seller is responsible for paying the full commission, which is then divided between both agents involved in the transaction.

While there’s no required commission rate for real estate professionals, it is typically 6% of the sale price. An agent’s commission should cover the full range of services they provide during the buying or selling process. These services may include marketing your property, conducting showings, providing market analysis, negotiating offers, and managing the closing process. Before agreeing to work with an agent, it’s crucial to understand what services are included in their commission and if any additional fees may apply for specific services or resources.

Commission fees are typically paid at the time of closing, which means you won’t need to pay your agent until the transaction is successfully completed. This payment structure incentivizes the agent to work diligently on your behalf to secure the best possible outcome for your real estate transaction.

Do I Have to Sign a Contract, and Can I Cancel without a Penalty?

contract services

When working with a real estate agent, it’s essential to understand the terms and conditions of your agreement, including whether you need to sign a contract and if cancellation without penalty is possible.

In most cases, you will be required to sign a contract when working with a real estate agent, whether you’re buying or selling a property. This contract, often referred to as a Listing Agreement for sellers or a Buyer’s Agency Agreement for buyers, outlines the terms and conditions of your relationship with the agent, including their responsibilities, the duration of the agreement, and the commission structure.

The contract typically specifies a duration, which can range from a few months to a year, depending on the agent and the local market conditions. During this period, the agent will exclusively represent you in the buying process or selling process. It’s important to review the duration and exclusivity terms before signing the contract to ensure they align with your expectations and timeline.

The terms regarding cancellation and potential penalties can vary depending on the specific contract and agent. Some contracts may include a cancellation or termination clause that allows you to end the agreement before its expiration date under certain conditions, such as unsatisfactory performance by the agent or a mutual agreement to part ways. In these cases, you may be able to cancel the contract without facing any penalties.

However, other contracts might stipulate penalties or fees for early termination, which could include a percentage of the anticipated commission or a flat fee. It’s crucial to carefully review the cancellation terms and discuss any concerns with your agent before signing the agreement.

If you’re uncomfortable with certain aspects of the contract, such as the duration, exclusivity, or cancellation terms, it may be possible to negotiate these points with your agent. It’s essential to have open communication and address any concerns before entering into a contractual agreement.

What Are Closing Costs? How Much Will They Be?

money under a house

The total amount of closing costs can vary significantly based on factors such as the property’s purchase price, location, and the specific terms of your mortgage loan. As a general rule of thumb, closing costs typically range from 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price. For example, if you’re purchasing a $300,000 property, you can expect to pay between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing costs.

How Should Unexpected Circumstances From an Inspection Be Handled?

home inspection

When navigating the homebuying process, a professional home inspection is a critical step to ensure you are making an informed decision about the property you are considering. However, unexpected issues or concerns may arise during the inspection that can impact the transaction. By understanding how to handle these situations, you can better navigate any challenges and work towards a successful resolution.

Questions to Ask A Buyer’s Agent

How Will You Determine What Homes Match My Wants and Needs?

couple looking at a house

When searching for a new home, it’s crucial to find a buyer’s agent who can effectively identify properties that align with your specific wants and needs. A competent real estate agent will start by conducting a thorough assessment of your preferences, including factors such as location, budget, size, layout, and desired features. They may ask you a series of questions or provide a questionnaire to help them better understand your priorities and non-negotiables. This initial consultation is vital in establishing a clear picture of your ideal home, enabling the agent to tailor their search accordingly.

An experienced agent will have extensive knowledge of the local market and be able to identify neighborhoods and properties that match your criteria. They will conduct research on available listings, recent sales, and upcoming developments to provide you with a curated selection of homes that meet your requirements. Their familiarity with the market can also help them spot potential opportunities and provide valuable insights into pricing trends and neighborhood characteristics.

As you view homes and provide feedback to your agent, they should continually refine their search criteria based on your evolving preferences. This ongoing communication is essential in ensuring that the agent remains aligned with your needs and can adjust their strategy to find the best possible match for you.

What Can You Do to Make My Offers More Competitive?

people holding up money

In a competitive real estate market, it’s essential to work with an agent who can help you craft strong offers that stand out among other potential home buyers.

One of the most effective ways to make your offers more competitive is by obtaining a mortgage pre-approval and providing proof of funds for your down payment and closing costs. A pre-approval letter from a reputable lender demonstrates to sellers that you are financially qualified and serious about purchasing their property. Your agent can guide you through the pre-approval process and ensure that your financial documentation is included with your offer.

In a competitive market, it’s crucial to submit a strong initial offer that reflects the property’s value and current market conditions. Your agent can help you determine an appropriate offer price based on their knowledge of the local market and recent sales of comparable properties. In some cases, they may recommend including an escalation clause in your offer, which automatically increases your bid up to a certain limit if other competing offers are received.

Another way to make your offers more competitive is by being flexible with the terms and conditions of the purchase agreement. This may include offering a quicker or more extended closing timeline based on the seller’s preferences or being willing to waive or shorten certain contingencies, such as inspections or financing. However, it’s essential to work closely with your agent to ensure that any modifications to the standard terms do not expose you to unnecessary risks.

In a competitive market, timing can be critical in securing your desired property. Your agent should be committed to maintaining prompt communication with you and the seller’s agent, ensuring that any questions, concerns, or counteroffers are addressed as quickly as possible. This level of responsiveness can demonstrate your eagerness to move forward with the transaction and may give you an edge over other buyers.

Can You Explain the Homebuying Process?

real estate agent with couple

The homebuying process can seem complex and overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. By asking your real estate agent to explain the process, you can gain a better understanding of the steps involved and what to expect as you navigate the journey toward homeownership. Here’s a brief overview of the main stages in the homebuying process:

1. Preparing for Homeownership: Before beginning your search for a new home, it’s crucial to assess your financial situation, determine your budget, and establish your priorities in terms of location, property type, and desired features. This stage may also involve improving your credit score, saving for a down payment, and researching various mortgage options.

2. Mortgage Pre-approval: Obtaining a mortgage pre-approval from a reputable lender is an essential step in the homebuying process. A pre-approval letter indicates that you have been preliminarily approved for a mortgage loan up to a certain amount based on your credit, income, and assets. This not only helps you establish a realistic budget but also demonstrates to sellers that you are a serious and qualified buyer.

3. Finding a Real Estate Agent: Working with a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the homebuying process. Your agent can help you refine your search criteria, provide insights into local market conditions, and arrange showings of potential properties.

4. Searching for a Home: With the help of your agent, you’ll begin the process of searching for your ideal home. This may involve attending open houses, scheduling private showings, and regularly reviewing new listings on the market. It’s important to be patient and persistent during this stage, as finding the perfect property may take time.

5. Making an Offer: Once you’ve found a property that meets your needs and preferences, your agent will help you prepare and submit an offer to the seller. This will include determining an appropriate offer price, outlining any contingencies (such as financing or inspections), and specifying your desired closing date.

6. Negotiations and Contract: If the seller counters your initial offer, you may enter into a negotiation process to reach mutually agreeable terms. Once an agreement has been reached, a formal contract will be drawn up and signed by both parties. This contract will outline the specific terms and conditions of the transaction, including any contingencies that must be met before closing.

7. Inspections and Appraisals: During this stage, you’ll typically arrange for a professional home inspection to identify any potential issues or repairs needed. You may also be required to obtain an appraisal to verify the property’s value for mortgage purposes. If any problems arise during these assessments, you may need to renegotiate the contract or request repairs from the seller.

8. Finalizing Your Mortgage: With the contract in place and inspections completed, you’ll work with your lender to finalize your mortgage application and lock in your interest rate. This will involve providing any additional documentation required and awaiting final approval from the underwriter.

9. Closing: The final stage in the homebuying process is the closing, where you’ll sign all necessary paperwork, pay your down payment and closing costs, and receive the keys to your new home. At this point in home sale, the property is officially transferred from the seller to you, and you become a homeowner.

Questions to Ask Listing Agents

How Will You Market My Home?


When selling your home, it’s crucial to work with a real estate agent who has a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy to ensure maximum exposure and attract potential buyers.

In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is critical for reaching a wide audience. Your agent should create an engaging and informative listing for your property, complete with high-quality photos, a detailed description, and essential information such as the price, size, and features. This listing should then be syndicated across various online platforms, including popular real estate websites, MLS systems, social media channels, and the agent’s own website.

A proactive agent will leverage targeted advertising and social media campaigns to increase your property’s visibility among potential buyers. This may include running sponsored ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Google, as well as promoting your listing through organic posts and shares on their social media accounts. These marketing efforts can help reach a larger audience and generate more interest in your property.

A well-connected agent will tap into their professional network to increase the visibility of your property among other real estate agents and potential buyers. This may include distributing flyers or brochures to their contacts, attending local networking events, and reaching out to other agents who may have clients interested in a property like yours.

How Did You Arrive at This Listing Price?

real estate agents making calculations

When working with a real estate agent to sell your home, it’s crucial to understand how they arrived at the suggested listing price. This information can help you assess their market knowledge and pricing strategy.

One of the primary tools used by real estate agents to determine a listing price is a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA involves researching recently sold properties in your area that are similar to your home in terms of size, features, and location. By comparing the sale prices of these comparable properties, your agent can establish a baseline value for your home, taking into account the current market conditions and trends.

Another essential factor in determining a listing price is the current state of the local real estate market. Your agent should have a strong understanding of market trends, such as buyer demand, housing inventory levels, and interest rates, which can all influence the optimal pricing strategy for your home. For example, in a seller’s market with limited inventory and high demand, you may be able to list your property at a higher price than in a buyer’s market with an abundance of available homes.

Do You Recommend Any Changes to the House Before a Showing?


When preparing your home for showings, it’s important to work with a real estate agent who can provide valuable guidance on making home improvements that can enhance your property’s appeal to potential buyers.

One of the most effective ways to prepare your home for showings is by decluttering and depersonalizing the space. This involves removing excess belongings, organizing storage areas, and minimizing personal items such as family photos or memorabilia. Your agent may recommend focusing on key areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and living spaces to create a clean, organized, and inviting environment for potential buyers.

Addressing any minor repairs or upgrades before showings can have a significant impact on your home’s appeal. Your agent may recommend fixing any visible maintenance issues, such as leaky faucets, broken fixtures, or damaged flooring, as well as making small upgrades like replacing outdated hardware or lighting. These improvements can demonstrate to potential buyers that the property has been well-maintained and cared for over time.

First impressions are crucial when it comes to showing your home, and your agent may suggest making changes to enhance your property’s curb appeal. This can include tasks such as cleaning or painting your front door, trimming overgrown bushes or trees, power washing exterior surfaces, and adding fresh mulch or flowers to your landscaping. These changes can create a welcoming and attractive exterior that entices potential buyers to explore further.

In some cases, your agent may recommend hiring a professional home stager to arrange your furniture and decor in a way that optimizes the flow and visual appeal of your space. This, combined with high-quality professional photography, can showcase your home in the best possible light and make a strong impression on potential buyers browsing online listings.

What is the Average Number of Days it Took You to Sell a Home Last Year? 

sold sign on house

Asking a real estate agent about the average number of days it took them to sell a home in the past year is an important question for both sellers to consider. This question provides insight into the agent’s experience, knowledge of the local market, and their effectiveness in pricing and marketing properties. Understanding the significance of this question can help you make an informed decision when choosing a real estate agent to guide you through the home buying or selling process.

Having the right information when selecting a real estate agent is paramount. A quality agent can make the process of buying or selling a home much smoother and less stressful than handling it yourself. Make sure to also ask a realtor all the questions highlighted in this article so that you can ensure you are making the best decision. Do not be afraid to ask questions and take your time. At the end of the day, it’s important to select an agent who you feel comfortable working with and trust that they’ll advise you accordingly.

If you are ready to buy or sell a house in the Nashville area, reach out to us today!

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Bernie Gallerani