17 Questions to ask your REALTOR®
Interview Questions to ask your Agent
Q and A with Tania & Tina
1. How do I start the home buying process? Who do I talk to first?
Excellent question! We think you should start with an agent. Ask for recommendations from friends and family. Sit down with the agents and interview them to see if they're the right fit for you. Don't skip this important step! Next, get pre-qualified. Your agent should be able to recommend someone, and be able to answer your questions about a mortgage broker vs a bank. Most people head to the bank for a mortgage, but that is not always the best idea, more about that later.
2. How long have you been a REALTOR®? Are you part-time or full-time?
There is a lot to this question. It is not just how long the agent has been working in the field, but also what kind of support is behind them and if they are experienced & trained in the area you need them to be. Years in the industry does not equal experience! We specialize with first time home buyers, condos, seniors, and sellers. We do NOT specialize in recreational properties, acreages, or commercial properties. Tania has been licensed since 2003, and Tina has been licensed since 2012, and we both work full time.
3. What did you do before becoming a REALTOR®?
This question may help you to understand what kind of a person the agent is. As for us, Tania has a background in social work. From an early age, when other kids were bringing home stray pets to keep, Tania was bringing home stray kids! She definitely had a passion for helping people. Tania is also a Girl Guide Leader, and volunteers often with a variety of organizations. Tina worked in new home construction from 2007-2012 and has a great knowledge base when it comes to building. Previous to that, she lived in Seoul, South Korea for 5 years teaching at a pre-school. She can easily be won over with yummy Korean food. :)
4. What designations/certifications do you hold, and why is that important to me the Buyer?
We think that updating and upgrading your education in any field is important! In real estate, there are a number of optional one day courses available. There are also designations and certifications available, as well as mandatory courses. Real estate is always changing, and we feel that if we are NOT keeping up with the changes - then how can we properly represent, help, and protect you? Our designations are:
ABR® Accredited Buyers Representative – The ABR® is the "benchmark of excellence" certification in buyer representation and is awarded by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council ("REBAC") of the National Association of REALTORS®. This designation is achieved through both educational and practical experience in which the agent is specifically trained to represent buyers in every transaction and to provide them with exemplary service. This prestigious certification isn't given to just any agent - it is awarded to the agent that proves he has the knowledge, experience and commitment needed to provide the buyer with excellent representation during their home buying journey from start to finish. This designation is optional, and there are currently less than 300 Calgary REALTORS® out of 5200 who have earned this designation. Working with an Accredited Buyers Representative will give you the peace of mind that you are being served not sold, and that truly your best interests are being looked after.
CCS® Certified Condominium Specialist – The Calgary condo market has grown considerably over the last number of years. In 2006, The Calgary Real Estate Board developed the Certified Condominium Specialist certification, because condos are a different type of ownership than single family homes. This type of ownership has many issues, concerns, and complexities that require special knowledge to property represent clients that are buying or selling condominiums. Currently the course is not mandatory, it is up to each individual REALTOR® to choose to upgrade their education. A very small number of agents are CCS certified - so be sure to ask!
SRES® Seniors Real Estate Specialist – This designation focuses on the real estate goals, concerns, and needs of maturing adults in the 50+ group. This unique segment of the market deserves specialized service from agents who recognize the differences. This unique designation discusses things such as age-restricted buildings, reverse mortgages, estate planning, financial planning, estate lawyers, clutter and staging experts, and professional community resources and services. A very very small number of agents are SRES certified!
ePRO® - This designation shows you how to use the latest social media technologies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to create an online presence vital in reaching today’s hyper-connected consumers. It's not just the 'young kids' online - virtually everyone is online, and we need to keep up with business trends and technology.
SRS - Seller Representative Specialist - SRS is the premiere seller agency designation, conferred by the SRS Council, recognizing real estate professionals who have completed special education in seller representation.
5. What area of real estate do you specialize in?
We specialize in residential real estate. First time home buyers are our largest segment, and one that we find especially satisfying to work with! The next largest groups we work with are referrals and past clients - both with buyers and sellers.
6. Do you have a personal assistant or a team?
A personal assistant, no. A team yes! In addition to us (Tania and Tina), we have a team made up of: a mortgage broker, a home inspector, a condo doc review company, and a real estate lawyer. We work closely with our team, and know that we can rely on them to get us answers - fast! Clients of course are not required to use our team, and can use your own resources if you wish.
7. What separates you from your competition?
We are all about information, education, and doing what is right for our client. The more information and education that we can provide to you, the better decisions you'll be able to make. Sometimes selling is not in your best interest at the time, and there may other ways around it. We're here to think outside the box, and provide you with all of your options. The joke around Tania's house is "So, did you talk the client into buying a home, or out of buying a home?”
8. Can you provide me with references?
Yes! Please click here for Testimonials. We assure you that they are from real people. :)
9. May I review the documents/contracts that I will be asked to sign?
You should always have an opportunity to review everything before you sign it. With our clients, we email the documents in advance to provide an opportunity to read through them. We also encourage you to seek the assistance of others if you like. You may already have your support network around you; family, lawyers, accountants, and financial planners. With a good support team involved, you will feel secure about your real estate decisions.
10. What if I am unhappy with your services - can I cancel the contract?
This is a great question! The last thing you want to do is to be committed to a contract that you cannot get out of. When we are working with buyers, our first step is our "meet and greet." During this time we discuss the contracts involved. Working under contract outlines the duties of the agent and the client, so that everyone is aware of expectations. You should be able to 'fire' your agent if they do not hold up their end of the contract - so be sure to ask your agent about this.
11. What kind of internet presence do you have?
We are online in the following locations:
12. How accessible will you be, and how will you communicate with me?
You need to know how available your agent will be. How will they contact you, and how quickly?
Because there are two of us, we are very available! Often we both work with the same clients, and at other times we split up so that we can be more time efficient. We are both up to date on all clients, so that makes us interchangeable. As for communication, text, email, or Facebook is just fine - we occasionally get phone calls too! ;) We always try to respond asap.
13. Will you show me properties from other companies listings?
Often buyers believe that they need to be working with several agents at once, in order to see a variety of properties on the market. This is not true - all agents have the same access to everything. Your agent doesn't have value in finding the property, their value is in helping you navigate the buying process and paperwork that follows. As a side note - do not call the agent on a lawn sign of a home you might be interested in, that agent is working for the seller - not you! Be sure to have your own representation and if you do find a house on your own - call your agent and let them do the work for you. After all - that is why you hired them in the first place!
14. What other homes can you show me and help me buy?
Short answer, any and all homes! We can help you purchase new or resale homes found on the MLS, new construction, or homes advertised by 'For Sale By Owners'. You can and should have your own representation for any property you purchase.
15. Can I search for properties on my own?
Your agent should welcome your assistance with finding a home. With our buyers, we work together as a partnership. Whether you find the home or we find the home, we can show them to you and represent you if you decide that you want to purchase it.
16. How involved are you after I find a home?
You need to be aware of how involved your agent will be. Are they there every step of the way?
We are very involved with every step, before, during and after the purchase. After you find a home you like and we have an accepted offer, there will likely be a property inspection. We attend this meeting with you and believe that a good inspector will not only inspect the property, but will also help to educate you on regular maintenance issues you should be aware of. If you are a first time home buyer, you will probably appreciate any extra advice about what to do to maintain the quality of your home for the duration that you own it. Once the deal is firm, we are there for your pre-walk through, your possession, and then we do regular check ups to make sure everything is great, and to see if you have any questions.
17. What else do I need to know about you?
By now you should have a pretty good idea of who your agent is and how they work! This is a nice wrap up question. For us, we really love our work! We find we are often up all hours working - not because we have to but because we love to. Meeting new clients is one of the best parts of our job. Often, I think we are more exited about a client's new home than they are! :)