10 questions to ask your real estate agent

This may be the biggest transaction of your life

By USAA on October 14, 2016

Selling your home can be daunting, which is why it's a good idea to enlist the help of a real estate agent. Because you'll be putting your confidence in this person, you should interview more than one candidate.

"For most of us, selling a home is one of the biggest financial actions of our lives," says Greg Jaeger, president of USAA Residential Real Estate Services. "It makes sense to ask some questions of the person who'll lead us through it."

Here are 10 questions to help you get started:

What's your experience?
The agent should be a full-time, knowledgeable, well-established professional.

Are you currently licensed?
Transactions handled by an unlicensed agent aren't valid, so the answer needs to be yes.

What is your specialty?
Someone with expertise in the kind of home you're selling can be important. Some agents focus on condominiums but know less about single-family homes. Others may focus on certain price ranges, historic properties or rural locations.

Do you have references?
Call the references. One of the best indicators for how well an agent will serve you is his or her track record.

What are your sales stats?
There are two numbers to check, according to Jaeger. "First, look at the average list-to-sale ratio, which divides the selling price by the most recent asking price. Beware of a number too far from 100%. Second, how long an agent's listings stay on the market can show efficiency - or lack of it."

How do you plan to market the listing?

Conscientious agents will have a comprehensive plan that could include an online listing, professional photography, a virtual tour and an open house.

How will you communicate with me?
Make sure your agent communicates in a method you use, whether it's phone, text or email. Also get a sense for responsiveness; a lag time of a few hours can mean a lost sale.

How much will your services cost?
What you'll pay is an important consideration, so don't be afraid to bring it up. Consider differences in what agents will do, too, since a lower price might indicate fewer services.

Do you represent both parties in a transaction?
A "yes" answer isn't necessarily a red flag, but the agent should explain the protocol for working things out.

Can you recommend home loan resources?
Real estate agents aren't loan experts, but they most likely have experience with lenders. A good agent will be able to point you in the right direction for finding one that fits your needs.