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Top 5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Real Estate Professional

You have made up your mind to either buy, sell, and/or rent real estate. What’s the next step? Do you

venture out in the unknown and try to find a buyer/seller/renter by yourself, or do you hire a real estate agent to professionally handle the home search, paperwork, negotiation, and closing for you? If you decide to hire a real estate agent, how do you go about selecting the right one?

The real estate buying/selling/renting process is exciting, but it can also be very stressful and emotional. Selecting the right real estate agent that best fits your needs can dramatically facilitate the transaction process, minimize the emotional roller coaster ride, and ultimately allow you to zero in on what is most important- finding your dream home and/or selling your property at a desirable price quickly.

To help guide you in your decision making process, here is a list of the top 5 things to consider when hiring a real estate professional.

  1. Is your real estate professional actively licensed?

Before hiring a real estate professional, ensure that they are licensed in the state that you plan to transact in. To do this, simply go online and search for your state’s real estate board. In Virginia, the DPOR (Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation) website has a section called “License Lookup.” Enter the person’s name, address, license number, etc. to see if they currently hold active licenses. Take a look at this link:

  1. Is your potential agent an expert in the market that you are looking to buy/sell/rent in?

It is very important that you find someone who knows your market and has decided to focus their attention on your particular geographic area. When selling a property, determining an appropriate listing price can be the difference between selling the property in a timely manner and having it sit on the market for a number of months. Agents who know the market will be able to give you a price/rent that will sell/lease your property in 1-2 months. From the buyer’s perspective, if the agent is a market expert, they will be able to quickly identify good deals and can add tremendous value during contract negotiations.

  1. Does your agent possess the “science” of real estate?

When I say “science” I mean the nuts and bolts of the transaction process: market analysis, asset valuation, investment/business guidance, financing, contracts, etc. What formal education does your agent possess? Look for someone with a degree in business finance, real estate, accounting, and/or a Masters in Business Administration. People who hold these degrees are experts in their fields and bring a whole set of tools that can give you a leg up.

  1. Does your agent possess the “art” of real estate?

The “art” of real estate is very different from the “science.” This represents the personal characteristics and creative non-tangible qualities that agents can bring to the table. For instance, is your agent affable? You will be spending a lot of time with this person and it is important for you to get along with them on a personal basis. This characteristic is also important in negotiation. If the agent is difficult to get along with, he/she may not be the best person to have negotiating on your behalf. Moreover, is your agent reliable? Did they show up on time for your initial meeting? Do they look professional? Are they confident? First impressions mean a lot. In addition to personal characteristics, an agent’s “artistic” side can definitely set your listing apart from the rest. Your agent will be responsible for taking photos/videos and staging your property. They must have the right “eye” to be able to attract the best offers. Not to go on a tangent, but consider asking if they use drones to capture aerial video and pictures of your property. Aerial video and pictures add a whole new element to listing ads especially to showcase a large yard or scenery/view.

  1. How long has the agent been in business? Do they have good reviews?

Generally, if an agent has been in business for a long time, has good reviews, and has many current listings, they are most likely going to do a fantastic job. Make sure to ask the agent if you could speak to a couple of his/her previous clients for due diligence purposes. The one word of caution here: as an agent’s business grows, it is only natural for the agent to hire additional staff to work in close liaison with clientele. What you originally thought would be a one-on-one relationship turns into a more hands-off relationship with your agent (you end up working with an assistant).

On the contrarian side of the argument, it may actually be to your advantage to select a highly ambitious agent with less experience. These could potentially be real “go-getters” looking to prove themselves. You may get great, reliable, undivided attention for a discount!

Thank you for reading! If you are interested in learning more about the real estate process and other things to consider when hiring a real estate professional, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at

Have a great day,

Kevin Barbera

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