Good To Know: 10 Essential Questions to Ask Your Listing Agent

Despite the overwhelming amount of realtors in Toronto, a considerable number of sellers don’t actually know any sales representatives — or at least have one in mind who they would use without thinking twice about. Which means when the time inevitably comes to sell their house or condo, they’ll have to interview a few prospective listing agents.

Well, here are 10 essential questions to pose before you let them handle this immense financial transaction.

1) How long have you been doing this?

With Toronto’s real estate market being so hot, lots of people have been getting into real estate — many considering it something of a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. Let’s be clear: it’s not. This is hard work, and several of these new agents will sink quickly with that approach. And while there is no minimum of experience you should look for when considering a prospective listing agent, we believe if someone has stuck with the all-commission job for more than a couple years, it’s a good indication that they are in this for the long run, and not to turn a fast buck.

2) You do this full-time, right?

Obviously you want to work with someone who practices their craft exclusively, especially when it comes to selling a home (as opposed to buying). After all, if your prospective listing agent is splitting their time with other gigs during the day and/or night, how confident can you be that their other commitments won’t ultimately interfere in your own high-stakes transaction? Because real estate never stops. It isn’t your everyday 9-5.

3) How many homes did you sell last year?

Here’s another question that relates to experience. Which, again, is hard to quantify based on numbers or volume alone. But at least research how many listings the average agent in your neighbourhood or the entire city even sells a year, then compare the figure to your prospective one. Also, be sure not to immediately go for the apparent powerhouse agent with a dozens of annual listings. While it certainly signifies success and makes them a worthy option, it could also suggest they won’t have as much time to devote exclusively to you. Just saying.

4) Am I dealing with you — or someone on your team? 

While we’re on the topic of powerhouse agents, many of them run sales teams and your initial interview with them may be the only time that you actually deal with them. Often, you’ll get passed to someone working under them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Remember: many of the best agents out there got their start as apprentices. But confirm that even if your prospective listing agent is going to give you to one of their pupils, you will still have direct access to them in the event anything goes wrong or you require their senior expertise immediately.

5) How do you market my home?

MLS is a helluva tool to create exposure for a new listing — but it’s not the only one for your prospective listing agent to employ when advertising your house to buyers and their agents. In this day and age, a comprehensive overall internet presence in addition to MLS is seen as a must, especially when you consider how many buyers begin their search online.

6) What’s your website?

Like we just said, the process for many buyers these days begins with the internet. Which suggests that your prospective listing agent should have a proper website. While an optimized, professional site is preferred, even just a simple one will do. With well over 40,000 realtors in Toronto, this is a remarkably quick way for a sales representative to demonstrate how seriously they take their business.

7) Is a professional going to take pictures of the place?

The response to this one should be a clear and emphatic “YES!” If your prospective listing agent even hesitates or suggests cutting costs by using an iPhone, well, we recommend ending the discussion right then and there. Selling houses is chess, not checkers. And, for many buyers, beautiful photos create an indelible — and definitive — first impression.

8) Do you maintain a social media presence?

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube — no matter the platform, social media is where most buyers are spending lots of time. So while you don’t necessary need a listing agent who builds their brand around taking relentless selfies at open houses or posting irrelevant Boomerang clips of every showing they do, your prospective sales representative should be engaging with these potential buyers through social media on a regular basis.

9) What’s the best way to reach you?

It’s the most straightforward question here, but perhaps the most important. Because we’re in the 21st century. Meaning a good listing agent should be fully connected via cell phone, email, pager, social media, their office and the like. Simply put, if you have trouble reaching your prospective one before you decide to let them put your house up for sale, you can probably guarantee you’ll run into similar frustrations after the home hits the market.

10) How much do you charge?

As a seller, your agent’s commission comes out of the successful transaction of your home. Which means many of you are looking for a deal, thus allowing you to pocket a higher percentage of the profits. But you get what you pay for, which is why many prospective listings agents will — and should — stick to the traditional 2.5%. If they do end up slashing their commission to win your business, be sure to clarify that their marketing, support and other crucial bits of service aren’t getting reduced with it.