10 Questions to Ask Your Realtor about Buying a House

1. Are you a full-time professional Realtor®? How long have you worked full
time in real estate? How long have you been representing buyers? What
professional designations do you have?
Knowing whether or not your agent practices full time can help you determine
potential scheduling conflicts and his or her commitment to your transaction. As
with any profession, the number of years a person has been in the business
does not necessarily reflect the level of service you can expect, but it is a good
starting point for your discussion. The same issue can apply to professional

2. Do you have a personal assistant, team or staff to handle different parts of the
purchase? What are their names and how will each of them help me in my
transaction? How do I communicate with them?
It is not uncommon for agents who sell a lot of houses to hire people to work
with them. They typically work on a referral basis, and, as their businesses
grow, they must be able to deliver the same or higher quality service to more

You may want to know who on the team will take part in your transaction, and
what role each person will play. You may even want to meet the other team
members before you decide to work with the team. If you have a question about
fees on your closing statement, who would handle that? Who will show up to
your closing?

3. Do you have a Website that will provide me with useful information? Can I
have your URL address? Who responds to emails and how quickly? What’s
your email address?
Many homebuyers prefer to search online for homes because it’s available 24
hours a day and you can do it in the privacy of your own home. By searching your
real estate agent's Website you will get a clear picture of how much work you
would be able to accomplish online.

4. Will you show me properties from other companies' listings?
Some real estate companies do offer their buyers' agents a higher commission
if they are able to sell "in-house" listings. In such circumstances, there can be
added incentive to limit the range of homes you are shown. This may impact
your home search and how much your buyer agent's fee will be.

5. Will you represent me or will you represent the seller? May I have that in
writing? How will you represent me, and what is the direct benefit of having you
represent me?
The goal here is to ascertain to whom the real estate agent has legal fiduciary
obligation, which may vary from Province to Province or even locale to locale. In
the past, agents always worked for sellers. Then the listing broker was
responsible for paying the agent or sub-agent that brought a suitable buyer for
the home. And even though the buyer worked 'with' an agent, the agent still
represented and owed their fiduciary duty to the seller.

Dual agency is where the buyer decides to have the listing agent prepare the
offer for him. If you are a knowledgeable buyer, you may choose to do this, but
only with full disclosure to all parties. In some Provinces it also affects the
broker's/agent's fiduciary responsibilities to the seller.

Although seller agencies still exists in certain areas, agents today almost
always have a sense of moral obligation to buyers. Find out what is common in
your area and understand what kind of agent you have before you begin to work
with them.

6. How will you get paid? How are your fees structured? May I have that in
In many areas, the seller pays all agent commissions. Sometimes, agents will
have other small fees, such as administrative or special service fees, that are
charged to clients, regardless of whether they are buying or selling. Be aware of
the big picture before you sign any agreements. Ask for an estimate of buyer
costs from any agent you contemplate employing.

7. What distinguishes you from other real estate agents? What is your
negotiating style and how does it differ from others? What geographic areas do
you specialize in?
Each agent has unique methods of overcoming obstacles and negotiating
deals. The most important thing is to make sure your agent is an effective
advocate for you.

8. Will you give me names of past clients?
Interviewing an agent can be similar to interviewing someone to work in your
office. Contacting references can be a reliable way for you to understand how he
or she works, and whether or not this style is compatible with your own.

9. Do you have a performance guarantee? If I am not satisfied with your
performance, can I terminate our Buyer Agency Agreement?
In the heavily regulated world of real estate, it can be difficult for an agent to offer
a performance guarantee. If your agent does not have a guarantee, it does not
mean they are not committed to high standards. Typically, he or she will verbally
outline what you can expect from their performance. Keller Williams® Realty Inc
understands the importance of win-win business relationships: the agent does
not benefit if the client does not also benefit.

10. How will you keep in contact with me during the buying process?
Some agents may email, fax or call you daily to tell you about properties that
meet your criteria, while others will keep in touch weekly. Asking this question
can help you to reconcile your needs with your agent's systems.
Paul Desrochers

Keller Williams
Integrity Realty
2148 Carling Ave,
Units 5 & 6
Ottawa, ON