Not all real estate brokers are the same. If you decide to seek the help of an agent when selling or buying your home, you need some good information before you make any moves.

A Broker can cost or save you thousands of dollars.

Picking a broker is one of those critical issues that can cost or save you thousands of dollars. There are very specific questions you should be asking to ensure that you are getting the best representation for your needs. Some brokers may prefer that you don’t ask these questions, because the knowledge you’ll gain from their honest answers will give you a very good idea about what outcome you can expect from using this broker. And let’s face it – in real estate, as in life, not all things are created equal.
Hiring a broker is just like any hiring process – with you on the boss’s side of the desk. It’s critical that you make the right decision about who will handle what is probably the single largest financial investment you will ever make.
What makes you different?  Why should I list my home with you? It’s a much tougher real estate market than it was a decade ago. What unique marketing plans and programs does this broker have in place to make sure that your home stands out favorably versus other competing homes? What things does this broker offer you that others don’t help you sell your home in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle and for the most amount of money?
What are your Firm’s track record and reputation in the marketplace? It may seem like everywhere you look, real estate brokers are boasting about being #1 for this or that, or quoting you the number of homes they’ve sold. If you’re like many homeowners, you’ve probably become immune to much of this information. After all, you ask, “Why should I care about how many homes one broker sold over another? The one thing I care about is whether they can sell my home quickly for the most amount of money.” Well because you want your home sold fast and for top dollar, you should be asking the brokers in an interview how many homes they have sold. I’m sure you will agree that success in real estate is selling homes. If one broker is selling a lot of homes whereas another is selling a handful, ask yourself why this might be. What things are these brokers doing differently? You may be surprised to know that many brokers sell fewer than 10 homes a year. This volume makes it difficult for them to do full-impact marketing on your home because they can not raise the money it takes to afford the advertising and special programs to give your home a high profile. Also, at this low level, they probably can’t afford to hire assistants, which means that they’re running around trying to do all the components of the job themselves, which means service may suffer.
What are your marketing plans for my home? How much does this agent spend in advertising the homes s/he lists versus the other brokers you are interviewing? In what media (newspaper, magazine, TV, Internet, etc.) does this broker advertise? What does s/he know about the effectiveness of one medium over the other?
What has your firm sold in my area? Brokers should bring you a complete listing of both their own and other comparable sales in your area.
Does your Broker-in-Charge control your advertising or do you? If your broker is not in control of their own advertising, then your home will be competing for advertising space not only with this broker’s other listing but also with the listings of every other broker in the firm.
On average, when your listings sell, how close is the selling price to the asking price? This information is available from the Real Estate board. Is the broker’s performance higher or lower than the board average? Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how high a price you will get for the sale of your home.
On average, how long does it take for your listing to sell? This information is also available from the Real Estate Board. Does this broker tend to sell faster or slower than the board average? Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how long your home will be on the market before it sells.
How many buyers are you currently working with? Obviously, the more buyers your broker or their team are working with, the better your chances are of selling your home quickly. It will also impact price because a broker with many buyers can set up an auction-like atmosphere where many buyers bid on your home at the same time. Ask them to describe the system they have for attracting buyers.
Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact? Ask to see this list, and then proceed to spot-check some of the names.
What happens if I’m not happy with the job you are doing to get my home sold? Can I cancel my listing contract?  Be wary of brokers that lock you into a lengthy contract that they can get out of (by ceasing to effectively market your home) but you can’t. There are usually penalties and broker protection periods that safeguard the brokers and their firm's interests, but not yours. How confident is your agent in the service s/he will provide you? Will s/he allow you to cancel your contract without penalty if you’re not satisfied with the service provided?
Evaluate each broker’s responses to these 10 questions carefully and objectively. Who will do the best job for you?  These questions will help you decide.

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