If you’re not sure what to ask an agent when they come to meet you, here’s a good starter list to help you.

1.  What documented and factual evidence do you have to back up your recommended list price?

Although nobody can predict down to the penny the value of any home, your agent should have a prepared set of information and data about the market, similar sales, and your current competition, so that you can discuss the pricing options available to you.

2.  Do you have verifiable track record?  What is it?  Can you provide us with a list of references?

Having a list of testimonials and possibly even contacts for clients who have worked with the agent shows transparency about their process.  How many homes have they sold?  Do they have lots of experience?  Have they sold many homes in your specific area?

3.  What type of marketing are you going to do to get buyers in my house?

No matter how good a home looks, or how well it’s priced… if nobody knows about it, it’s not going to sell.  Print ads and open houses have low success rates, despite what agents might tell you.  Putting it on is good, but what else?  Does the agent have a proven, predictable marketing plan?

4.  What type of marketing are you going to do to attract out of town buyers and why is this important?

Milton is an example of a community that gets a lot of buyers from Toronto, Mississauga and Oakville.  How does the agent plan on getting the word out to those areas?  Do they have a strong network of agents that they connect with?  Have they identified an ideal buyer profile, and who is most likely to be interested in your home?

5.  Do you have a team or an assistant?

There are arguments on both sides of this one.  Some single agents will promise their full attention and that you won’t be handed down to a “junior partner”.  Teams will provide the advantage of extra manpower and specialists working on different areas of the transaction.  Be sure the agent can articulate the benefits of whichever system they work with.

6.  Do you have a system that attracts Buyers?  How do you mix and match with your Sellers?

Is there a waiting list of buyers that want to know about this home?  Ask the agent about how they attract buyers, and also how they interact with the neighbours and the local market area.

Our mailing list has been growing for nearly a decade, and there are more than 16,000 buyers in the list.  The cost to assemble this group is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it also makes it possible to find a buyer before you even hit the MLS system.

7.  Are you willing to make recommendations that are needed to get my home “market ready”? What is your experience with this?

Most experienced agents have a basic understanding of what buyers are looking for.  But they may also offer access to their staging professional, and maybe even options to dress the home up with furniture and decor.

8.  How will you communicate with me?

Does the agent have a communication plan?  How quickly do they return phone calls?  How many people will be involved in the sale (if you work with a team).  Being clear about communication from the first step, including ways to get in touch with each other, will ensure a much smoother process.

9.  How many Buyers are you currently working with?

Does the agent have a client load, or are they light on clients?  This can also be a two-sided question, because having less clients means they can spend more time with you.  But having a lot of clients means the agent is experienced and in-demand, possibly with a buyer who would be interested in your house.  Make sure your agents’ answer matches up with your expectations.

10.  How are you going to make sure my needs are tended to?

This is a bit of an open-ended question, but it can give you clues about the business values and philosophy of the agent you plan on working with.  Do they believe the customer is always right?  Do they offer a satisfaction or “easy exit” guarantee from your agreement?  And are they willing to listen to you, and how you feel?