Finding potential agents:

Interview more than one agent. More than two, even. Three is a pretty solid number.

Talk to your friends and family to narrow down the list of potential agents. 42% of real estate transactions are handled through referrals, and most of us know at least one or two people who are involved in real estate.

Choose people you know, trust and most importantly, enjoy working with, to find the right referrals. Most people keep company with others who are like them, so if you are relying on your pushy but successful uncle to find your agent, you may find yourself working with a pushy agent.

During the interview:

Ask lots of questions about how they arrived at their numbers. One of the easiest ways for an agent to lock down a listing is by simply overinflating the price at which the home could sell. However, because an agent says so does not mean the market will agree. Make sure they can tell you exactly what factors contributed to their pricing estimate.

Be suspicious if you are wildly surprised by how much you are told your home is worth. High or low, again, it’s critical to know exactly what factors were involved in your estimate. There are many different ways to provide a market analysis; make sure your agent is using methods that make sense to you, because chances are, if they don’t make sense to you, they won’t make sense to the market or to the appraisers either, giving you greater odds that your closing will be at risk.

Get a solid grasp on their marketing plan for your home. There are many routes to take; if you feel they are missing an important avenue, ask about it. It could be that your market has greater success with some methods over others, or it could be that an agent is trying to cut corners to maximize profit. Either way, the interview is the time to clearly set your expectations to ensure a smooth and positive transaction for all parties.

Ask about the agent’s experience. It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if your agent is newer to the industry (full disclosure – this is coming from me, a REALTOR® for just over 3 months), but it could be an issue if they don’t have a solid plan in place to work with more experienced agents to ensure you are in the best possible hands. Alternately, you may want to be wary of the agent who has been in the business for years but has no recent sales/listings to point towards. Above all else, ensure that the person you ultimately choose has the time and the ability to manage your listing.

Set up a communication plan. If you wish to be notified each time an inquiry comes in on your home, specify this up front. Or, if you’d prefer a synopsis twice a week, make sure you get your agent to agree. Be clear about your expectations during the interview and you will erase a great deal of stress from the sale right away.

Finally, take the time to investigate any claims made during the interview. If an agent states that their marketing strategy relies on a Twitter following of 1000+, take a look at their Twitter feed to see how many posts they make, how many followers they have, and whether people are engaging with the content. If print marketing is a big part of their strategy, ask to see samples of their ads. You want to be sure their style matches with the buyers you are looking to attract.

Having the right person for the job helps your home sell faster, and at the best possible price. Mastering the interview doesn’t have to be difficult. By following these steps, you’re ultimately protecting yourself from a six-month listing with an agent who may not be your home’s best match.