Interviewing Real Estate Agents

11 Replies

Hi everyone! So my wife and I have an appointment with an agent here in Arizona we have never worked with before.

As David always says never assume just because your agent is nice that they are good.

In the spirit of finding a good agent for a new area we are interested in.

In all of your opinions what should be some key things we talk about and questions that we should ask to ensure this agent is one of the few good ones?

@Stephen Daniels

There are the usual questions to see if the agent knows his/her stuff -- explain the buying process for example.  But, more importantly, listen and watch the agent.  First, you kinda need to know what agent you want, i.e. how can the agent help you.  Do you want an agent to "sell" you on the house?  Or, just show it to you and point out features of the house that you might have missed and/or notice things that are wrong with it?  Does the agent actually "investigate" the house with you?  Or, can he or she just open the door and point out how beautiful the drapery is?

You are doing the investing, right?  Are you in tune with the market?  Do you expect your agent to be? --- yes, that is sort of a trick question.

Anyway, I hope this small schibit helps a bit.  I'm not sure what requirements you have for an agent so its a bit tough to understand your expectations.

Good luck.

@Stephen Daniels

Be real and be transparent. Explain your goals with REI and your 'why'. Almost always you will get a sense if they are genuine and if they understand REI.

Do ask:

  • About specific strategies you are interested in pursuing and if they have seen success with it  
  • For numbers from past deals they have done
  • If they an investor themself

Do NOT ask:

  • If they are an investor friendly agent.  Every agent is an investor friendly agent, few know how it actually works.  

Listen for an agent that will tell you 'no'.  You need someone to be honest and tell you when your criteria are unrealistic or when it is better to walk away.  

I agree with David from above. Something else to add:
If you're looking for an agent to help you with investing, try to pick their brain on the analysis. A ton of people I talk to don't understand things like cap rate, cash on cash ROI, internal rate of return, levered vs. unlevered, deal analysis, etc... Ask the agent to analyze a deal, run some numbers, or work out a spreadsheet for you. Of all the people involved in your investment transaction, if the one consulting you on the purchase doesn't have a grasp of the finance involved, find someone else. 

@David M. Great stuff right here this is exactly the type of advice I was hoping to get! I also guess that I probably should’ve did a better job at explaining what my expectations were LOL sorry about that.

I want to be one of the first big time investors in the market that I’m currently looking at. Based on some extensive market research, I do believe that my market will thrive during and post pandemic, so while rates are low I want to get a head start.

We believe the BRRR, house hacking, and rent by room methods are probably what we will focus on for the next five years. Needless to say I want the Agent we choose to be part of our team in the coming years.

@Bryan Noth Very glad to see agents like yourself responding to this!

One of my goals is to determine if they understand the BRRR Method or can at least follow it.

I guess the most important aspect I’m looking for is how well we get along and honesty.

@Jacob Peistrup Great point about having them work a deal for me! I also want to see how in tune they are with the market and if they are seeing the same signs as I am.

Quick question though would you personally be turned off by an investor who wants to see if you understand the analysis of a good deal?

@Stephen Daniels

Thanks for the additional info.  Further define your requirements and your plan of action.  Put it this way:  what are the mission tasks you expect out this agent whilst on your team?  Whatever they are, I can pretty guarantee a cookie cutter set of interview questions won't truly answer what you really want to know.

For example, I have this feeling that "investor friendly agents" seems to mean to many new investors an agent who will crunch the numbers on "every" listing and give them sales and rental comps for everything.  That's baloney.  My serious investors don't want me to give them anything other than my take on the "pulse" of the market.  Investors need to know their market.  As they say, an informed client is a good client.  Furthermore, those "other" investors or new investors who expect me to run all those numbers for them aren't worth my time.  They basically want a real estate agent to to pick real estate properties with a plan of investment as opposed to finding a financial planner to pick stocks and investment strategies.  Well, as an agent I can't do that, and I'm not a CFA or anything similar so I can't be giving out investment advice.

How's this...  Perhaps you are looking for somebody who is a "good fit," for you and your family (especially if you deploy the family will have to deal with the agent).  When you PCS, you need to be able to trust this agent.  No questionaire will answer this.

BRRR, house hacking, and rent by room really has nothing special to do with real estate brokering. The first two is nothing more than you basically buying a property. I don't know of the latter really done by agents. Assuming you stay in the same area, buying a house with this agent once every 2 years or so for the BRRRR house hack isn't too bad. Maybe you list some rentals with him/her...

Sorry if you think I'm giving you heartache.  I'm not a salesman.  I'm an investor with a real estate license who happens to be an engineer.  An agent who knows everything about the school districts, local life, etc. really doesn't mean much.  Maybe if the agent has skills / energy / contacts that are useful my "mission" can be useful to me.  Or, maybe just an agent who will go the extra mile to help get the transaction done.  I tell something similar to my clients who are busy with their days jobs to let me do my job (e.g. make all the phone calls to schedule inspections, deconflict scheduling conflicts, etc.) so that they have time to do theirs.  How many times have you heard complaints about "lazy real estate agents?"  Many times, being a real estate agent is one half being a "doorperson" and one half being a "staff officer."  That's the nature of brokering, at least in my opinion.

If you want to chat, feel free to direct message me and we can exchange contact info.

 As a realtor here in Hawaii its very important to find a agent who is willing to work their tail off for you.  its never about the transaction its always about the person and why they are buying or selling a home.  so interview the agent to see where their intentions are. If there is anything  I can do for you please let me know.


Josh Harris 

Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge! Ask detailed questions about the local market, the neighborhood where a particular property is located, deal analysis, future projections ... anything you can think of. If the Realtor doesn't have detailed answers, their advice isn't going to be very helpful. 

You want a Realtor with a lot of experience and who is eager to be helpful and has your best interests at heart. After a few minutes of conversation you should be able to detect what kind of person the agent is.