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41 Questions

Here are the best 41 questions to ask your prospective agent.  Some of these have answers, and some have MY answers. Perhaps the first question to ask yourself: are you calling a friend, or an expert? Feel free to use this as a template to interview your next agent (do it on the phone to make it easier).

  1. Are you full-time or part-time, and how long? I have been full-time for over 21 years.
  2. Do you have a team? No one can be great at everything, and the average agent handles all aspects of your sale alone. You will always work directly with me and will not be passed off. However, I do not spend time building websites, placing ads, or processing back-end paperwork. My team does these tasks so I can focus on what is most important: promoting and negotiating for you.
  3. In the transaction, will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller? Be careful how your prospective agent answers this question. You should strongly consider having your agent be your advocate, and no one else’s, from start to finish.
  4. Do you own a home? Fact: The MAJORITY of agents don’t. I do. I have bought and sold 28 times. I own the house I live in and own investment property, so I understand exactly what you are going through.
  5. How large are your company and its network? Click here to learn more about Sotheby’s International Realty.
  6. Are you a REALTOR®, and what TYPE of license do you have? I have been a REALTOR®, AND a BROKER, since 1993. Over 75% of licensees in California do NOT have a broker’s license. Many licensees are not REALTORS®. A REALTOR® subscribes to a strict code of ethics, and pays dues to the National Association of REALTORS®.
  7. What kind of experience do you have? Since 2012, about 20% of all agents in our region closed at least one transaction (Source: MLS).  Since 2012, I have closed almost 300 transactions.
  8. Do you live and work locally? Yes.
  9. How many phone calls do you make a week? I make at least 150 per week; I am constantly trying to put buyers and sellers together.
  10. Do you have any accreditations?  I am a Graduate, Realtor® Institute (GRI).  I am also a CPS (California Probate Specialist), the only certification in California.
  11. What is your Unique Selling Proposition? I am happy to show you.  But one very important item 99.999% of all agents will not put in writing is that they will not represent a buyer on your transaction unless you specifically give them permission.  You see, I believe you deserve to know that you have an unwavering advocate from the beginning to the end, and you should not have to worry about your agent making double commissions and representing the other side.
  12. How many listings/sales do you have in the past year? For the past four years, I have been in the top .5% regionally and nationally.
  13. How do you stay up on current trends?  I love to absorb regional and national data  and trends and read about how the industry is changing so my clients stay at the forefront of the market and technology.
  14. How will you market my home? I’d be happy to show you.
  15. Do you have a performance guarantee? Yes.  I also have an easy cancellation policy.
  16. Tell me about the culture of your office?  Our Pasadena office is all cubicles (the only large office set up this way) because our associates work with each other, instead of being stuck in private offices.
  17. Do you have a website that will list my home? Yes, and your home will be listed on hundreds of websites around the world.
  18. How would you develop pricing strategies for my home?  I would be happy to show you and explain absorption rate pricing.
  19. What are the BEST proven strategies to get top dollar in a reasonable time? I would be happy to show those to you.
  20. Are you detail-oriented and prepared for eventual hiccups? Yes! Please read my testimonials.
  21. Can we review all documents before we sign anything? I will always give you that opportunity. I never push.
  22. How will you handle multiple offers? I would be happy to show you many strategies.
  23. Can you recommend other professionals you trust, such as inspectors, lenders, attorneys, estate sale people, if needed, etc.? Yes, I have amassed many very talented professional contacts over the years and I am happy to share them with you.
  24. What percentage of your business is based on referrals?  About 90 percent.
  25. Can I call your past 50+ clients? Absolutely, and I will give you their cell phone numbers.
  26. What’s your pricing/marketing philosophy 30/60/90 days down the road? I will give you many options.
  27. Can you tell me about the inspection process and what are the many renegotiation strategies available to me? I am happy to show you.
  28. What is active versus passive contingency removal? Most agents cannot explain this very important question.  Ask me.
  29. What are liquidated damages, and what is an arbitration clause?  Ask me.
  30. Please explain specifically how title insurance works in a worst-case scenario.  I would be happy to explain a title policy.
  31. Do you know how a licensed appraiser will look at the market data?  I will be happy to explain the most prominent type of bank appraisal, the Fannie Mae form.  I will also explain the other types of appraisals and BPOs.
  32. Please explain title insurance and why most transactions have two title policies.  I am happy to explain this interesting item.
  33. Please explain supplemental property taxes.  I am happy to explain property tax. Click here to see my property tax wheel.
  34. How many foreclosures or short-sale transactions have you handled? We have handled many and have the knowledge and experience to determine if this is a good option for you.
  35. How will you keep me informed? I am happy to keep you informed at least once a week via email, but you will get updated immediately when things get busy.
  36. Have you ever been fired? I never have.
  37. What is your educational background before your real estate career, and may I see your resume? I have been selling for 20 years, and I earned my BBA in Finance. Please click here to see my resume.
  38. How do you market luxury properties? I would be happy to show you.
  39. What type of support and supervision does your brokerage office provide to you? We have in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney, and our files are constantly monitored and audited.
  40. Can I visit your office, and what can I expect? Come by for a tour; we are a fun, positive, intelligent, and efficient group. Our office is clean, comfortable, and organized. It reflects who we are. When I am in the office, I am almost always on the phone trying to find buyers and sellers.  I have two headsets on almost all the time.
  41. Why haven’t you called Michael Bell for a no-pressure, no-obligation 20-minute consultation? Be sure to check out my book Seller Mistakes for great tips.
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