Interviewing a realtor isn’t just a formality.
It’s your golden ticket to a successful buying or selling experience.
Hiring the right realtor can mean the difference between a smooth transaction and a stress-filled journey.
In other words, buying your dream home or settling for something less at a higher price.
Selling for top dollar versus having your home sit on the market and sell for less than it should.
Yet some buyers and sellers skip the process of interviewing a real estate agent because it’s another “task.”
Or they’re unsure how to conduct a realtor interview…
So they end up hiring the realtor they “like” the most.
And not necessarily the one best qualified and matched to their needs.
But remember that you’re about to make one of the biggest financial transactions of your life.
The stakes are too high not to vet the agent you’re trusting to guide you through buying or selling a home.
Knowing how to interview a realtor can help you pinpoint the perfect match.
Let’s get started.
What to do before interviewing realtors
There are things you can do before conducting interviews that will boost your clarity and confidence.
In fact, I would say these are crucial to helping you identify the real estate agent who’s best for you.
Here are a few key things you should include in your pre-interview checklist.
Know what makes a good real estate agent
Knowing what makes a real estate agent good is a key part of the interview process.
Because it’s the foundation that will help you hire the right realtor.
Here are several of the more important things that separate good real estate agents from the rest.
- Experience: It’s not just about years in the business. An experienced agent can cater to your specific needs as a buyer or seller, which makes for a more successful real estate transaction.
- Integrity: Securing peace of mind and trust in an agent is critical to a positive experience. Ensure that a prospective realtor has a low track record of representing both sides in the same deal (dual agency). This indicates that the agent is more likely to prioritize their clients’ interests over earning double commission from one sale.
- Good reputation: Consistent positive feedback from past selling or buying clients can give you an idea of what to expect when working with an agent.
- No contract commitment: A real estate agent who won’t lock you into a contract is more likely to be motivated to go above and beyond. This can lead to a better outcome when buying or selling a property.
Arming yourself with this knowledge before an interview helps you approach it with a discerning mindset.
And it sets you on the right path to knowing how to find a good realtor.
Research qualified candidates
Pre-screening candidates can save you time by allowing you to cross incompatible agents off your interview list.
Here are three things you can do before meeting with a prospective real estate agent to ensure they’re worth interviewing.
- Verify their license: Ensure that the agent is licensed and in good standing. Conduct an online search by typing “look up realtor license in [STATE]” to verify their credentials in the official state database using their name and license number.
- Analyze online reviews: Scrutinize reviews from other sellers or buyers to gauge an agent’s reputation. Pore over ratings on online review platforms, focusing on common themes.
- Google their name: Uncover potential red flags by investigating the agent’s online presence. Search their name online and evaluate their professionalism through their website and social media profiles.
Once you’ve evaluated potential candidates, create a shortlist based on your findings.
Then decide on the number of realtors to meet (aim for at least two).
Confirm where the interview will take place
Determining your ideal interview setting should depend on your comfort level, the nature of your discussions, and what you hope to achieve with the conversation.
Here’s where most buyers and sellers conduct interviews with realtors.
Phone or video call: Many buyers and sellers choose to start the interview with a brief phone or video call. This allows you to eliminate any agent you don’t resonate with, saving you time and hassle from meeting in person.
In-office: An office environment can set a professional tone, ensuring focused and structured discussions. Plus, while not extremely important, meeting in an agent’s office can give you insights into their work environment and organization.
Coffee shop/restaurant: The neutral, relaxed environment of a coffee shop or restaurant can lead to a more authentic understanding of each other’s personalities, helping to determine if the real estate agent you’re interviewing is a good fit.
At your property (or the one you’re viewing): For sellers, interviewing realtors on your home turf will allow them to provide a more accurate assessment of your property’s value. For buyers, it provides a firsthand look into the agent’s expertise.
How to prepare for a realtor interview
Want to get the most out of your interviews?
Then you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared before your meetings.
Here are a few steps to take to help you get ready to interview potential realtors.
Gather helpful documentation
Pulling together documents doesn’t just expedite selling or buying a home.
It helps agents gauge your seriousness and provide insights tailored to your situation.
Have these items ready:
- Mortgage pre-approval letter
- Evidence of down payment
- Checklist of preferences in a home
- List of mandatory preferences.
It’s not mandatory to have this information when you talk with a real estate agent.
But it shows a buyer’s agent you’re serious.
Many agents are more inclined to invest their time in a prospective buyer who shows financial readiness and has a clear understanding of what they want in a home.
So you’ll want to have these items ready (or at the very least an overview of your financial background).
Doing so will present you as a capable buyer, which will maximize your feedback about any buyer’s agents you meet.
Compile these documents:
- Current mortgage and/or HELOC statements
- List of recent renovations or improvements
- Any upgrades you’re considering
- Existing home warranties.
Assembling these items will allow any listing agents you’re considering to more accurately estimate your home sale proceeds.
It can also help them devise a more precise, strategic home-selling plan.
Define your buying or selling needs
Outlining your needs before interviewing agents serves as a compass for your home-buying or selling journey.
Because it helps you identify your objectives and expectations.
It also paves the way for more productive discussions with prospective agents.
Get clear on what you’re looking for:
- Price range
- Preferred locations
- Must-have features
- Property type (single-family residence, condo, etc.).
Identify areas where you’ll require support:
- Understanding local market trends to set the right price
- Advice on home repairs/improvements
- Selling while occupying (or not occupying) the home
- Coordinating off-hour showings.
Prepare scenarios and questions
Your mind is probably buzzing with questions about buying or selling.
The great thing about this?
You can use it to your advantage when interviewing a realtor.
Think of hypothetical scenarios that might crop up along the way and make a list.
You can bring these up during your discussions to assess the agents’ competency and problem-solving abilities.
Then make sure you add other important questions to your list so that you’re best prepared for the interview.
Questions to ask a real estate agent in an interview
Knowing which questions to ask a realtor is vital when buying or selling a house.
This helps establish whether you’re working with the right agent.
Here are some of the key questions to ask a real estate agent when interviewing them.
Have you helped clients buy or sell in my area?
The real estate agents you interview don’t need to have the most sales in your area –– but they should have some. This interview question can help you understand how well an agent knows your local real estate market.
Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors?
Real estate agents work by being licensed within their state. Realtors belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which holds its members to a strict standard of ethics. Being a NAR member may signal an agent’s professionalism and commitment to being held liable when representing a buyer or seller.
Do you lock your clients into a contract?
A realtor who’s willing to work without the security of locking a client into a contract is usually more motivated to keep them happy. Most sellers are required to sign a listing agreement, and buyers sometimes sign a buyer-broker agreement. But you’re not required to sign an agreement that doesn’t give you the option to cancel at any time (without owing any commission).
How many clients have you helped buy or sell?
An agent’s transaction history tells you about their experience, which can be an indication of how well they’ll be able to guide you through the home-buying or selling process.
How many clients are you working with right now?
Knowing an agent’s current client load helps you assess the level of attention they can bring to your transaction. Having too few clients might mean a lack of experience. Too many may hint that they won’t be able to prioritize your needs.
How will we communicate?
Establishing communication preferences — whether text, email, or phone — gets you and your agent on the same page up front. This fosters a collaborative working relationship.
Do you have references I can contact?
Hearing firsthand from a realtor’s previous clients can give you an unfiltered view of their working style, which can help you anticipate what your experience may be like.
What’s the process if I decide to hire you?
Understanding the steps involved helps set clear expectations and lays the foundation for a successful partnership.
Red flags to watch out for when interviewing a realtor
Spotting warning signs during an interview with a realtor is crucial.
That’s because an agent who has the wrong qualities can be detrimental to your transaction.
Here are three red flags to look for when meeting with realtors to sell or buy a home.
Poor communication skills
Beware of realtors with lackluster communication skills.
Because it usually reveals an agent who isn’t genuinely interested in your needs.
Spotting this is easy if you know what to look for:
- Poor eye contact
- Lack of interest in your goals or concerns
- Regular interruptions or talking over you
- Frequent phone distractions
- Slow replies (over half a day).
Think about it…
If an agent can’t give you their undivided attention during your first meeting?
They most likely won’t prioritize your needs later.
Presenting an opportunity for dual agency
Some real estate agents will make a subtle pitch for dual agency when you talk with them.
Spotting this can be tricky.
But here’s how it typically unfolds…
A buyer might hear promises from a buyer’s agent like, “I have a client willing to sell off-market.”
A seller may hear statements from a listing agent such as, “I have a buyer looking for a home like yours.”
You want to avoid these “tricks” at all costs.
They’re common tactics some realtors use to represent both the buyer and seller in the same transaction.
The agent’s motive?
Securing two commissions from one sale.
Whether you’re buying a home or selling one, steer clear of agents with a higher-than-average track record of dual agency.
This statistic is the number one RED FLAG.
It generally indicates a lack of integrity because an agent who represents both sides isn’t able to look out for your best interests.
In other words, those agents have a history of prioritizing earning more commission above their clients’ best interests.
Want to avoid this?
Meet with real estate agents with a lower-than-average rate of dual agency transactions.
Some realtors might over-promise during interviews to lure clients.
But this can be a trap.
Here’s how these scenarios might look:
A real estate agent may brag about “exclusive access to properties other agents don’t have.”
This creates an illusion of scarcity.
But in reality…
Most listings are open to all agents.
Being swayed by this tactic can lead you to hire the wrong agent.
A seller’s agent might intentionally inflate their recommended listing price.
This is done to get a seller excited about pocketing more money, but it sets unrealistic expectations.
Because once your house doesn’t sell…
They’ll advise you to lower the asking price.
Falling for this ploy can hurt your sale because your home’s appeal may tank once it’s been sitting on the market.
Meanwhile, the agent still pockets their commission check as long as your property sells.
These strategies can breed opportunities that don’t materialize.
And that potentially leads to disappointment, financial loss, and unnecessary stress.
What to do after interviewing real estate agents
A thoughtful approach to evaluating candidates can help you make the right hiring decision.
Here are the most essential things to do after interviewing agents.
Analyze the meeting
Reflecting on your meeting can guide you to the top real estate agent.
One method to simplify the interview process and make a well-informed decision is to understand each agent’s strengths and weaknesses.
Create a pros and cons list
Write down the positives and negatives for any agents you’ve interviewed.
This can help you assess how well-suited each is to meet your needs as a buyer or seller.
Evaluate agents based on these factors:
- Approach: Were there differences in each agent’s process? For buyers, consider things like techniques for home searches, submitting offers, and navigating issues an inspector finds. For sellers, compare things like marketing plans (including how and when they conduct open houses) and strategies to negotiate the best final sale price.
- Personal connection: Did you click with each agent? Buying or selling a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll make. Do a gut check for compatibility.
- Professionalism: Were they punctual, prepared, and knowledgeable about your local real estate market?
- Responses: Did they respond to you quickly and address any concerns clearly?
- Expertise: Did any agent particularly stand out? Maybe they have deep experience in your price range or property type.
- Fees: Does their level of service and experience justify their commission rate?
Hire the right agent
Selecting the right real estate agent after interviews is your most important move.
Because the right agent will set you up for a seamless, successful transaction.
Here’s how to secure a great agent, whether buying or selling:
Verify that they have the right qualifications
Ensure any real estate professionals you’re considering meet these important criteria before deciding which one to hire:
- Experience helping clients buy or sell homes in your area
- History of primarily only representing the buyer or seller in each transaction
- Excellent reputation
- Lets you cancel your agent contract.
These factors will help in confidently hiring a realtor to sell your home or purchase one.
How to interview a real estate agent FAQs
How many real estate agents should I interview?
You should consider interviewing a minimum of two real estate agents, but aim for three. Interviewing multiple candidates allows you to gauge the market knowledge, experience, and interpersonal skills of each realtor. Three interviews can give you a balanced perspective: One real estate agent might stand out as the clear choice, one might not align with your preferences, and the third agent can act as a tiebreaker of sorts. It also helps you understand the varied strategies and methods each realtor might use in the buying or selling process. While interviewing more than three real estate agents can provide even more insight, it can also make the decision more complicated and time-consuming.
Can you interview two realtors from the same company?
Yes, you can absolutely interview two realtors from the same company. The brokerage a realtor is affiliated with has minimal influence on their individual home-selling or buying strategies. Realtors are essentially self-employed, bearing responsibility for their own marketing and expenses. Their unique approach, experience, and skill set are more pivotal to their performance than the umbrella of the company they work under. Thus, it’s beneficial to evaluate multiple realtors — even from the same firm — to find the best fit for your needs.
Is it OK to work with multiple realtors?
Working with multiple real estate agents is typically not advisable or practical. For buyers, if you’ve signed an exclusive contract, you’re bound to one agent. Even without a contract, working with more than one agent isn’t standard practice. Most real estate agents will sever ties if they know that you’re also working with another buyer’s agent. For sellers, working with multiple realtors isn’t feasible since most require an exclusive agreement before initiating the selling process.
The bottom line
You’re now armed with the right information to interview realtors.
You know how to prepare for the conversations.
And you’re ready to dive deep.
Your next step?
Make sure you don’t waste time interviewing agents who don’t have the right qualifications.
And if you’re a seller…
Our no-cost service can do this for you.
At SoldNest, our agent matching platform connects sellers with the best local listing agents.
Already have agents you plan on interviewing?
There’s a good chance that we can provide our unbiased feedback so you can know if the agent you’re meeting with has the right qualifications (included in our no-cost service).