10 Questions You Should Ask Your Realtor


How do your realtor fees work?

During the interview, you'll want to talk money. Most agents don't charge a flat fee but take a percentage of the home's final sale price. This percentage varies with each agent, but the commission typically hovers around 6 percent of the selling price. This fee can be a hefty sum. So, if you're the seller, you may want to ask if it's negotiable.

The negotiability of agent commission can depend heavily on the market. In a booming real estate market, commissions might dip lower because homes are easier to sell. On the other hand, when the market is tight an agent might be less likely to budge on her fee. But it doesn't hurt to ask. If the agent commission is a sticking point, consider ways that you can offer to reduce the agent's workload or costs in order to get her to negotiate to a lower rate. For example, you could employ your superb cooking skills to cater your open house. You might also get a discount by using a single agent for both buying a new home and selling your old one. If the agents you interview agree to negotiate the fee, check to see whether that decision would sacrifice the level of service.

Along with commission, it's also important to discuss the agent's cancellation policy. Consider what would happen if, after signing an agent, you hear that your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate is interested in buying your house? Or, what if you happen to stumble upon your dream home on your own with no help from your buyer's agent? Find out if she would still be entitled to the full commission. Maybe you'll just become unhappy with the realtor or agent somewhere down the road before the contract expires. Ask about what kind of early cancellation fees may apply to you. A great way to get a feel for the agent's professionalism and tactics is to ask how she's dealt with this situation in the past.

Or has she dealt with much in the past at all? Next, we'll inquire after the agent's experience to dig up some telltale dirt.