Questions to Ask a Realtor [And the Answers You Should Get]

Joseph Alongi
By Joseph Alongi
Updated October 27th, 2023
Questions to ask a Realtor

I’ve been asked numerous questions as a realtor. 

One thing I’ve noticed?

Most buyers and sellers primarily focus on the questions they should ask a realtor before deciding which one to hire.

These questions are critical because they’re part of the process of knowing how to find a good realtor.

But there are other important questions you should ask at different stages of the buying and selling process:

  1. Before hiring a realtor 
  2. After hiring a realtor
  3. When receiving/making an offer.

That’s what we’re going to discuss.

This guide is going to cover all of the important questions you should ask a real estate agent –– and the answers you should get –– before and during your working relationship.

Several of these questions and answers are so important that…

If your realtor stumbles on them?

It’s a clear sign that you need to hire a different agent.

Questions to ask a realtor before hiring

The most important questions to ask a real estate agent are the ones you inquire about before you commit to a working relationship.

Because they’ll guide you toward securing the services of the right professional.

If you’re specifically focused on selling, you can get tailored insights by reading our guide on questions to ask a real estate agent when selling.

Here’s a list of the best questions to ask a realtor before hiring them. 

Do you belong to the National Association of Realtors?

Every realtor is a licensed real estate agent –– but not all agents are realtors. 

What sets them apart? 

Realtors pay an annual membership fee to the NAR and are held accountable to NAR’s code of ethics.

So if you’re speaking to a real estate agent who is not a NAR member, it’s usually because they don’t want to:

  1. Be held responsible to a higher professional practice
  2. Pay an annual membership fee.

Either one of these is a red flag. 

Hearing a “yes” to this question will ensure the potential realtor you’re speaking to is committed, at least on paper, to a stringent code of ethics. 

But a NAR membership doesn’t guarantee professionalism and integrity. 

Some realtors exploit loopholes or gray areas.

Which is why it’s imperative you ask this next question…

How many dual agency sales do you have compared to all homes you’ve sold?

This should be your number one question before deciding which real estate agent to hire.


Because it speaks volumes about an agent’s integrity.

Usually, an agent will earn one commission when representing a buyer or seller.

But when they become a dual agent and represent both parties in the same sale?

Their commission doubles.

This is why some realtors use very questionable tactics to increase their chances of this happening.

Because they make more money.

But these types of transactions very rarely benefit the buyer or seller.

The agent’s reply to your question should include two figures:

  1. Total number of homes they’ve sold
  2. How many of those sales were dual agency.

Then, calculate their percentage by dividing the second figure by the first. 

Based on the average U.S. dual agency data we analyze, here’s a rough idea of the percentage you should get:

  • Under 10% in medium- to high-cost areas
  • Under 15% in low-cost areas.

An answer with a percentage higher than these should be very alarming.

Because it means that realtor has a track record of prioritizing their earnings over their clients’ best interests.

This is why asking a realtor this question is so important.

It helps you eliminate prospective agents you should avoid.

That’s why our no-cost agent matching service for sellers analyzes this data when screening local realtors.

What is your total number of transactions, and in how many years?

The home selling or buying journey can be filled with unexpected twists.

So when you’re interviewing a realtor, you want someone who won’t get caught off guard.

One way to assess this?

Probe the agent about how many deals they’ve closed and how long they’ve been in business.

There’s no “magic number” here…

But experienced real estate agents typically have several years under their belt and at least: 

  • ~10 sales per year in medium- to high-cost markets
  • ~20-25 sales per year in more affordable regions.

These aren’t just numbers. 

They’re indicators of an agent equipped to steer your transaction to success.

How many clients have you assisted in purchasing or selling properties in my area?

A realtor might have years of experience and hundreds of transactions under their belt. 

But if they’ve never closed a deal where you’re buying or selling?

Their knowledge of your local market may fall short. 

So inquire about their relevant experience before entrusting them with one of your biggest financial decisions.

While there’s no predetermined number you should hear…

Not having any local home sales should raise concerns.

You don’t need the real estate agent with the most sales in your area.

But you should make sure that any prospective agent indicates some level of local insight.

How many clients are you working with right now?

Want to make sure your transaction will get the attention it deserves?

Ask how many clients an agent is currently working with before hiring them.

Too many clients might indicate that they can’t prioritize your sale. 

But too few can hint at inexperience.

And though an experienced real estate agent with fewer clients is generally better… 

Don’t get fixed on the number.

What’s most important is how the realtor responds to your question. 

Do they just spout off a number?

Or do they explain in detail how they’ll prioritize your sale or purchase?

Because being client-centric is one of the important qualities of a good realtor.

Can I contact your last three buying or selling clients?

This question isn’t the typical, “Do you have references I can contact?” 

That question is good — but this one is better. 

Here’s why…

It prevents the agent you’re meeting with from cherry-picking their best references. 

It also shows you how confident the realtor is in their work with past clients.

So you want to hear “yes” or “sure.”

Keep in mind this question catches most real estate agents off guard.

So a slight hesitation is understandable.

But anything other than “yes” implies that they have something to hide. 

Consider this your warning sign to keep hunting for the right real estate agent.

How does your commission work?

Some agents don’t like to talk about how they get paid.

In many cases, it’s because they don’t think they’re worth the amount they’ll make on your sale.


Some agents have no problem talking about their commission.

These are generally the agents who exude confidence and will give you the attention you need.

Both of these are things you want in the realtor you work with.

So pay attention to how they’re describing the realtor commission structure.

You’re listening for how transparent the agent is in their answer.

You should come away from the conversation knowing that in most sales, the seller pays the commission to both agents.

And that the commission is usually split between both agents.

But what you don’t want to hear is only something such as, “Buyers don’t have to worry about the commission.” 

Or, “You only pay a 2.5% listing fee.”

So if an agent is short with their answer and glosses over the details…

You might want to think twice about working with them.

Will I be working with you throughout the home selling/buying process?

Imagine building rapport with a real estate agent during your initial meeting only to find out later that you’re dealing with someone else.

Not ideal, right?

That’s why this question is one of the things you should ask a prospective realtor.

It helps set expectations and prevent surprises down the line.

Because some real estate agents operate as a team.

This isn’t a bad thing, but you need to know who will be your main point of contact.

So the response you’re seeking is “me” or “another team member.” 

If it’s the latter, the prospective agent should clearly explain the team members’ roles.

And who you’ll be communicating with throughout the process.

A vague reply to this question indicates that they may not be as transparent as they present themselves to be.

What makes you different from other realtors?

Buying or selling a house is a major financial decision. 

So you don’t want just an average real estate agent.

You want someone who knows their stuff.

This realtor question cuts right to the chase. 

What you want is a clear, confident response that highlights their strengths and/or expertise.

Maybe they consistently sell homes 20% faster than average. 

Or they’ve recently helped several buyer clients get their offers accepted below the listing price.

It’s okay if the agent’s answer starts with something like, “I’ll work harder for you than anyone.”

But it shouldn’t end there –– because that’s too vague.

They should elaborate on their reply by describing in more detail “how” they’re different.

Also, note their body language. 

If an agent avoids eye contact, fidgets, or looks at their phone frequently, that’s a warning sign to keep looking.

If I choose you, will our agreement be cancellable?

This is the second most important question to ask when meeting potential realtors.


Because having a non-cancellable agreement can make your purchase or sale less of a priority to an agent.

It essentially “guarantees” their commission.

This can tempt the realtor to shift their energy toward landing their next client instead of focusing on your sale.

That’s why you want to listen for a firm “yes” in response to this question.

It puts the agent’s commission at risk, which means they’ll be more motivated to give you the attention you deserve.

Most sellers sign a listing contract.

And buyers sometimes sign a buyer-broker agreement.

But whether you’re buying or selling, you should have the option to cancel the contract at any time.

Want to take extra precautions? Make sure you know what questions to ask before signing a contract. 

What’s the process if I decide to hire you?

Discussing this question with potential real estate agents is smart. 

That’s because it gives you insight into what comes next.

And it can also reveal how organized an agent is.

A great agent will answer with a detailed overview of the immediate next steps.

They might also provide you with a high-level overview of the process — from initial paperwork to closing.

So listen for a comprehensive answer that demonstrates whether the realtor has a plan.

And if they’re capable of guiding you through the intricacies of buying or selling a property.

Questions to ask your realtor after hiring them

It’s crucial to keep asking the right questions once you’ve brought a realtor on board.

Because these inquiries keep the momentum going for a successful partnership.

Here are the top questions to ask an agent after hiring them.

What’s the best way for us to communicate?

Communication is key once you’re working with a realtor.

So this question sets the tone right from the start.

But don’t just settle for a reply specifying whether phone, text, or email is best…

Your realtor should also inquire about how you prefer to communicate.

This is a sign they’ll be more likely to cater to your buying or selling needs.

And ask if they’ll be in touch with you should there be any bumps in the road.

Because being willing to have an uncomfortable conversation is one of the signs of a good real estate agent. 

Setting these expectations isn’t just practical. 

It ensures that you’re informed at every step of the process. 

Can you provide me with the estimated closing costs?

Knowing your financial obligations up front can prevent unpleasant surprises later.

But expect more than a simple “yes” when you ask your realtor this.

They should provide a detailed breakdown of likely closing costs, such as: 

  • Title and escrow fees
  • Real estate attorney fees (depending on your state)
  • Transfer taxes
  • Notary fees
  • Lender-specific fees (for buyers).

Having a clear estimate from the real estate agent you’ve partnered with prevents an unexpected bombshell.

And helps you better prepare ahead of time for your move.

Can you explain the home buying/selling process?

There are many steps to buying or selling a house.

Which means you’re about to take a journey. 

Asking your realtor this question sets the stage for a smooth ride.

Their reply should include a concise, high-level overview of the process ahead.

  • Buyers: A buyer’s agent should describe what happens when you find a house you like, how showings will be arranged, and the steps once an offer is accepted.
  • Sellers: A seller’s agent should explain what happens before your home hits the market, once it’s listed, and after you accept an offer.

This will help you plan for what lies ahead and ensure you’re never left guessing what happens next.

What should I know about contingencies before making/receiving an offer?

Understanding contingencies is crucial.

Here’s why…

They’re the main reason real estate transactions fall through.

Yet most buyers and sellers aren’t clear on what a contingent offer is.

So your realtor should not only explain what contingencies are but also how they can impact the offer you’re submitting or receiving. 

  • Buyers: Your agent should describe contingencies as a safety net. They give you time for due diligence while protecting your initial deposit. 
  • Sellers: Your agent should emphasize that contingencies are the biggest hurdle to clear once you accept an offer. An offer might not hold much weight until the buyer removes all contingencies because their deposit isn’t at risk until they do.

Discussing this with your realtor equips you to handle offers more effectively and avoid unwanted surprises.

What does the offer process look like?

Navigating the offer process is pivotal in any real estate deal.

But most buyers and sellers aren’t ever told how it works. 

That’s why this is a must-ask question for your real estate agent.

The depth of your realtor’s answer will give you insight into how skilled they are at managing offers. 

  • Buyers: A good answer will cover how they help with due diligence, whether they inquire with the seller’s agent to gain additional insights, and how they make an offer stand out from the competition.
  • Sellers: A good reply will discuss whether they require pre-approval letters or signed disclosures, plus their approach to evaluating offers.

Hearing this gives you a better sense of your agent’s expertise and attention to detail.

What negatives do you see with this property?

Inquiring about the potential negatives in a property is one of the best questions to ask a real estate agent when looking at a house. 

Because their response will show you if they’re competent.

And, especially for buyers, whether they’re trustworthy.


A good agent will pinpoint areas that might deter buyers and suggest improvements or repairs before putting the house on the market.


Trustworthy real estate agents will openly discuss potential negatives — even if they might not impact or concern you.

For example…

Stairs facing the front door in a two-story house might not be an issue for you.

But it is for some buyers, which could affect the property’s future resale value. 

So your agent’s willingness to point out such nuances signals that they’re looking out for your interests.

But if your agent avoids this question or doesn’t share any downsides?

It suggests that they’re inexperienced or more interested in earning a quick commission than your long-term satisfaction.

This could be a sign that you should find a new agent.

Which upgrades are worth making?

You probably want to know how to squeeze the most value out of a property, whether you’re buying or selling.

This question will help you do that by gauging your agent’s expertise in boosting a property’s value.

And, potentially, your equity. 

Ideally, you’ll get a detailed reply with specific upgrade/improvement recommendations and the reasons why. 

Buyers: A good agent will highlight upgrades that maintain their value and appeal to future buyers. Think of features like indoor laundry or adding a patio or deck.

Sellers: A top agent will recommend lower-cost improvements that bring a high return. This could mean painting or swapping out old carpets for hardwood or luxury vinyl. Or refreshing a dated kitchen with quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances.

The guidance offered here indicates your chosen realtor’s expertise and commitment to maximizing your investment.

Questions to ask your agent when making/receiving an offer

Making or receiving an offer is a pivotal step in any real estate transaction. 

And it’s also a step that many buyers and sellers find both exciting and daunting.

But knowing what to ask can make it less emotional and set you up for success.

Here are some key questions to ask your real estate agent when making or receiving an offer.

As a seller, what should I ask my agent when I receive an offer?

Analyzing key aspects of a buyer’s offer can ensure the best sale price and improve the likelihood of not having to re-list your home.

So you should ask your agent about things such as:

  • Terms of the offer
  • The buyer’s qualifications
  • Inspections and the appraisal
  • Counteroffering.

What are the terms of the offer?

The price a buyer offers usually grabs the most attention from sellers.

But an offer’s terms play a significant role in its overall appeal.

For example…

Say you get an offer well above asking price. 

But the buyer wants a 90-day escrow.

And they include two contingencies: one for inspections and another for needing to sell their house first.

They’re also asking you to cover several fees, which isn’t typical in your real estate market.

Suddenly, that phenomenal selling price seems less appealing given that the terms indicate potential complications and risks.

So when asking about the terms, note whether your realtor mentions five key things:

  1. Any contingencies, their specifics, and the buyer’s timeframe to release them
  2. Proposed closing date
  3. Earnest money deposit amount and due date
  4. Who covers the home warranty (if applicable)
  5. Size of the buyer’s down payment if there’s a loan. 

Understanding an offer’s terms can influence how you should respond to it.

How confident are you that the buyer is qualified?

Want to increase your chances of not having to put your home back on the market?

Then make sure to ask your real estate agent this question.

Ideally, your agent will say something like “very confident” — backed by details on how they vetted the buyer. 

But if they have reservations about the buyer’s qualifications when you ask this question…

It’s not necessarily the end of the world.

While it might be disappointing to hear doubts about a buyer being well qualified, this transparency helps set realistic expectations.

And those realistic expectations can help you decide whether you should accept an offer or wait for something better.

The key is how well your agent scrutinizes the buyer.

If the buyer requests repairs after inspections, how will we handle negotiations?

There’s a chance the buyer will ask you to reduce the sales price and/or make repairs if their offer includes an inspection contingency.

But there is nothing set in stone that says you have to –– it’s all negotiable.

How can you ensure your interests are protected?

Ask your agent about their negotiation strategy.

The key is to do this in a way that discreetly says, “I need to make sure you have my back.”

Here’s the response you’re hoping to hear…

“No matter what comes back on the inspection report or the buyer’s requests, my initial response to the buyer’s agent will be, ‘I’m not sure my client will agree.’”

This type of answer tells you that you’re working with someone who knows how to negotiate.

And this approach allows your realtor to gauge:

  • The other agent’s reaction
  • How serious the buyers are about their demands
  • Whether there’s room to negotiate.

These will swing the negotiations in your favor.

Does the buyer have enough funds if the appraisal comes in low?

Properties sometimes appraise below the agreed-upon purchase price. 

That’s why you want to ask your agent how equipped the buyer is for this potential scenario.

It’s all about gauging risk. 

Can the buyer bridge a gap, or will the deal fall apart if the appraisal comes in low?

The best response to hear is, “The buyer has the funds to cover it.”

However, it’s not always a bad thing if your realtor hesitates…

If the buyer is not able to cover the difference, it could mean you have to renegotiate the final sale price or, in the worst case, re-list the property.

But having this information up front is invaluable to you as a seller.

Because it helps you know how to proceed with the offer and ensures that you’re not caught off guard.

Should we counteroffer?

Leaning on your real estate agent’s expertise is essential when deciding whether you should counteroffer.

But don’t just seek an opinion about whether you should…

Instead, listen for the confidence and reasoning behind your realtor’s reply. 

And while it’s ultimately your decision as the seller to counteroffer or not…

Hearing a well-informed opinion from your agent can make that decision easier.

What you don’t want to hear is an answer without any reasoning.

Because that’s a clear sign your realtor isn’t capable of handling negotiations.

As a buyer, what should I ask my agent when making an offer?

Doing your homework and understanding what can impact a seller’s decision can prevent a nasty shock and give you a strategic edge.

So you should ask your real estate agent about these things when submitting an offer on a house:

  • The seller’s disclosure package
  • Appraisal price vs. sales price
  • Terms of your offer
  • The offer’s expiration date.

What red flags do you see in the seller’s disclosure package?

Every buyer questions whether they’ll discover something they weren’t aware of after they purchase a property.

You can increase your chances of avoiding that by asking your realtor this question.

But don’t just ask for feedback.

Specifically use the term “red flags.”

Because this is essentially asking your agent to scrutinize the information being provided by the seller.

They might mention specific concerns or even say “none.” 

But what matters is the confidence in their answer and the logic behind it.

In certain areas, a seller’s disclosure package is available to prospective buyers before making an offer and can include things such as:

  • Inspection reports
  • State- and city-required property disclosures
  • A preliminary title report.

In other areas, this information might be available after your offer is accepted.

What price and terms do you think it will take to get this house?

Every move should be strategic when you submit an offer for a home.

That’s why, when you ask your agent this, you should listen for an honest opinion and a well-thought-out plan.

Your agent should reply with a number (or price range) and specifics about the terms.

But the real value?

Understanding the “why” behind their recommendation. 

The final offer decision is yours as the buyer.

But your agent should give guidance on what might make it stand out to the seller.

Is their price opinion backed by recent sales of similar homes?

Are the proposed terms in line with what the market dictates?

For example, are they nudging you toward a non-contingent offer because it’s a competitive market and there are likely to be multiple offers?

This is exactly the kind of guidance you need to make a winning offer.

Why do you think the home will appraise at the purchase price?

Asking an agent about the appraised value can be a bit tricky.

That’s why this question contains a little psych trick.

An agent can’t offer a guaranteed appraisal value.

But any real estate professional should give you an honest opinion about whether they think your lender’s appraised value will meet your offer price.

So if you phrase your query this way…

It subtly shifts the responsibility onto your buyer’s agent and nudges them toward a more candid reply.

But listen for more than just a basic number or range.

A good response is backed by data that references recent sales and context around why those properties could be seen as comparables in the appraisal report. 

What if the inspector finds something?

Property inspections can reveal unforeseen issues.

But you can prepare for this potential hiccup by directing this question to your real estate agent. 

It essentially says, “I want to know if you’ll go to bat for me.”

And it lets your agent know that they’d better jump on this situation if it does arise.

A reassuring response sounds like:

“If something comes back on the inspection report, which usually happens, we’ll discuss and ask the seller to reduce the sale price and/or make the repairs. I’ll then speak to the seller’s agent and express that it sounds like a big concern.” 

This approach lets your agent set the tone that you’re apprehensive about the issues, which increases the chances the seller will address them.

When should our offer expire?

Timing is everything in the home buying process — including when your offer expires.

So raising this question with your realtor is a strategic move.


Because letting a seller sit on your offer allows them to use it as leverage to seek a better deal.

A 72-hour offer expiration is standard on most real estate purchase contracts (depending on which state you’re in).

But in almost every scenario, you should never give the seller three days to respond.

So your agent’s recommendation should be less than this timeframe. 

Ideally, ~24 hours or less.

But there are exceptions.

Maybe the seller is overseas or is the beneficiary for an inherited property and needs to discuss it with their siblings.

What you want to listen for is an explanation in the answer from your realtor.

Why are they recommending the offer expiration timeframe?

If you don’t get an explanation as to the why, you may be working with the wrong person.

The last word

Having confidence that you’re working with the right realtor isn’t about firing off a list of questions.

It’s about hearing answers that indicate they’re a proven professional who will put you first.

If you’re selling and already in discussions with potential realtors?

Why not get a second opinion? 

Our no-cost service will answer a lot of these questions for you.

In addition to matching homeowners with the best local agents, we also offer an unbiased perspective to ensure that the agent you’re considering meets our strict agent vetting requirements.

Think of it as an extra assurance. Here’s how it works.

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Joseph Alongi
Joseph Alongi

Joseph is the CEO of SoldNest. He holds a real estate broker's license and has over eighteen years of experience in the real estate industry. He's married to his beautiful wife, Erin, and comes from a big Italian family. His biggest weakness is his mom's homemade pasta.