Questions Clients Should Ask Before Working with an Agent

Having an initial interview with the agent where the client is able to “interview” the prospective agent is the best way to see if they are fit for the job. This is analogous to an employer interviewing a potential candidate for the job. The client must ask the right questions in order to develop an understanding that the agent will indeed be providing the highest levels of knowledge and service. Some example questions for the client to ask include:

1.     What percentage of deals do you do in house? 

Asking this question may help weed out those agents who do a majority of their deals in-house. Ideally, an agent should have a lower percentage of deals done within their agency to expose their listings to more buyers or tenants. Marketing to external parties could make deals close quicker when selling or leasing a property.

2.     Will I be working with you or someone else, such as an assistant?

Qualifying an agent would be a total waste of time if for all future proceedings you were passed on to the agent’s assistant. Also, you want to be working with the primary agent – in other words, the individual earning the most commission. If you are investing precious time and money in a real estate transaction, then you want to make sure you are working with experienced people who are willing to invest their time in working out the best deal for you.

3.     How many buyers / sellers are you currently representing?

If an agent has a high number of individuals or entities they are representing, then it may not be such a good thing. Although possessing a high number of listings at one time may be perceived as the agent being a great negotiator, it could also be seen as spreading oneself to thin. You want an agent that is able to devote sufficient time & energy to the client; ideally giving you the highest priority.

Having just a few clients may not be a bad thing. The real estate industry is cyclical and some agents are selective in regards to the listings they take on.  Perhaps they specialize in a certain asset class and/or they may have a personal maximum number of listings they represent at one time because they would like to devote quality time to their client’s wants & needs.

4.     Will you be actively and/or passively marketing us/our property?

As a client, you will want an agent that is actively marketing you (for buyers/lessees) or your property (for sellers/lessees). Active marketing could mean cold calling to property owners or lessees in the vicinity of where likely clients are located or where you want to open up shop. Passive marketing is putting property listings on listing sites, such as CoStar and LoopNet, and just waiting until an interested party calls. It can also mean putting wants & needs of your potential buyer or lessee on You want an agent that will actively and passively market you, while concentrating the majority of their time on the former. Pursuing active marketing will ensure the deal gets closed swiftly.

Asking these types of questions is beneficial to both the agent and the client, as qualifying will weed out agents that aren't suited to a client’s objectives. Doing so will reduce the amount of time wasted by both the agent and the client.