Purchasing a home is likely one of the largest and most significant purchases you will make in your lifetime, so finding the right real estate agent is essential. Not only will they help walk you through the entire home-buying process from start to finish, but they will also advocate for you when it comes to negotiating and finding the perfect home. When it comes to hiring a real estate agent, taking the time to interview a few is key to finding the right one for you.
We’ve put together a list of 5 questions that you can ask when hiring a real estate agent to help you get started in your interviewing process.
Hiring a Real Estate Agent: How Long Have You Been In Real Estate?
A real estate agent that has been in the business for a long period of time will likely have more experience than a newer agent and will be able to better anticipate any problems that may arise during the home-buying process. This isn’t to say that you can’t work with a less-experienced agent, but getting a feel for how long an agent has been working in the real estate industry is a great way to start your interview. Another benefit of working with an experienced agent is that they likely have established solid relationships with other real estate services professionals, such as home inspectors, and will be able to refer you to them if needed.
What Is Your Area of Focus?
Another great question to ask your prospective agent is what their area of focus, or expertise, is. While some agents are looking to work for all sorts of clients, some have specialized focuses, such as first-time home buyers or those looking to downsize. These agents will likely have more experience with certain pain points you might experience during the home-buying process and will be able to inform and help you navigate any challenges or frustrations that you may feel.
Are You Familiar With My Desired Neighbourhood?
Finding a real estate agent that is knowledgeable about your desired area is also incredibly important, especially if you’re moving to a new city that you’re not familiar with. It’s a real estate agent’s job to know what is going on in their local market, so they will be able to help you either find a neighbourhood that will suit your needs, or give you as much information as they can on the neighbourhood you have in mind. Liveability factors play a huge role in day-to-day life, whether it be proximity to schools, transit, or other amenities, so finding an area that fulfills those requirements is key to finding your ideal home. Working with an agent who is familiar with your desired neighbourhood will also allow them to give you accurate information regarding home values in the area. This will help you get an idea of what other homes in the area have sold for and can help you determine whether or not you’re paying the right price for a property.
Can You Explain The Home-Buying Process?
You want to make sure that you end up working with a real estate agent who knows what they’re doing, which is why you should ask them to explain the entire home-buying process to you. Buying a home can be stressful and complicated at times, so working with an agent who understands the ins and outs of the process is key to making your buying experience as stress-free as possible. There are a lot of different rules and regulations when it comes to buying a home, so your real estate agent will be able to explain and help you understand everything that goes into the buying process.
Do You Have References or Reviews?
One of the most common ways that people find real estate agents is through referrals from friends and family, so you likely already have one review to rely on, but it’s always a good idea to seek out more when possible. Reviews from past clients are a great way to gauge whether or not an agent is going to be the right fit for you, so don’t be afraid to ask for more references if needed. Most agents will have reviews displayed on their website or in a Google Business profile, which makes them easy to find.
Regardless of whether or not you’re buying your first home or your fifth home, taking the time to find the right agent is essential to making sure the entire home-buying process goes smoothly and is as stress-free as possible.
Do great photos make a difference in real estate sales? Many argue that photos make or break the listing and sales process. And, while it’s true that poor real estate photography can turn off buyers from viewing the subject property, it’s important to note that good photography doesn’t sell real estate. Agents and sellers do that part.
Real Estate Photography: A Buyer’s Perspective
Buyers are looking for the best house at the lowest price. They search for desirable areas, size, number of bedrooms and sometimes features like garages and pools. In a quest for the best at the lowest price, amazing photos won’t help an overpriced house. However, detailed photos, exposed properly can feature the unique and important aspects of a home and property quickly and more effectively than written words.
A Seller’s Perspective
Photos attract buyers to view a property. From there, the property must stand on its own merits. If the property looks the same as the photos buyers often do not remark. If the photos are significantly better than the real-life experience at the home, buyers become untrusting.
Detailed photography can also help sellers and agents negotiate better. The average home viewing by buyers is estimated at 15 minutes and sometimes less. Buyers cannot remember what house had the green carpet let alone the high-quality appliances. Photos serve as a reminder to the buyers of what they are paying for. This is why “great” real estate photography will show sidewalks, foyers, landings, and laundry rooms. These photos can sometimes seem odd to sellers and look lousy. Yet, photos of features serve an important purpose in helping the sellers get more money, clarify value, bolster talking points, and manage buyer expectations.
The goal of a good real estate shoot is to “capture” the essence of the home and property, snap a few money shots, shoot the flow of the house and property and get the best fill shots. 3D walk-thru video can accomplish a lot of this. Yet, static photos allow the agent and photographer to stage the angle and exposure to capture perspective. The end goal is to show nicely enough to entice the buyer to book a showing.
What Makes A Good Photo?
A good photo is properly exposed, in focus, representative of the lighting sees through windows to the outside, has understandable angles and perspectives, and reflects the features of the home fairly. If a room is dark it means the photo should probably show this. However, with today’s technology, nearly any space can be brightened. It might be a nice shot, but that doesn’t make it good photography. Photos of hallways, sidewalks, gas meters, and air conditioner units also make good photos in real estate. Photos showing the underside of gutters (soffits) can highlight expense trim and build considerations. The odd detail shot of hinges and faucets can also work well to show the home’s attention to detail and craftsmanship. Good real estate photos should show the good and not-so-great aspects of the home.
Good money shots are important and viewers will give creative license to make these photos look grander than perhaps they are, within the law. Yes, there are laws and rules that must be followed. We can make your grass look greener and photoshop the trash bin but your purple front door must stay.
What Makes A Bad Photo?
Bad photos can look nice. Identifying bad ones is not always easy but here are some red flags. Frosty windows are the first clue. Out of focus and poor angles are another. Random angles and perspectives can also be an indication. Viewers will “feel” these items as much as point them out.
Bad real estate photos can also be excellent photos that simply hide items out of frame. Like the photo of the backyard showing lush green grass that is taken at such an angle to hide the house next door with three bedroom windows looking down onto the pool area. Or, the photo of the driveway zoomed in to hide the 50-foot drop from the garage to the road.
The seller may not like a photo that shows what the home accurately looks like; light, dark, cluttered – it doesn’t mean it’s a bad photo. Photos can help to manage buyer expectations. Sometimes a home is dark. Over-exposing and saturating light in areas that don’t normally have light can create mistrust among buyers. Accept that sometimes photos and the property, are what they are.
Shooting Day Prep
Interior: Turn on all lights, open curtains, clear counters, move furniture to open up spaces, toilet seats down, fold hanging towels, clean, polish, organization, and cleanliness.
Exterior: Time of year is important. Schedule your shoot to address where the sun will be located. Clear the driveway, hide everything possible, mow the lawn and declutter as much as possible.
Our Top Tips for Stellar Real Estate Pics:
- Declutter rooms and make beds
- Turn ON all lights and lamps in the home
- Turn OFF ceiling fans and TVs
- Clear all personal items from counters, dressers, shelves
- Remove magnets and photos from the fridge
- Move all vehicles and boats/ RVs off of the driveway and away from the house
- Remove pet items and garbage /recycling bins from the view
- Hang fresh towels on towel racks
- Ensure you are NOT in the house during the Matterport scans
- Takedown photos and personal items that you don’t want in the VR tour
Photos are important. Yet, stellar photos will not compensate for an overpriced home, an agent that communicates poorly, or a rapid change in the market. Photos are just one of the many tools agents use to help sellers get offers.
Pretty photos of real estate may look like art but agents and photographers must balance the scientific considerations to leverage the photography to impact a sale. It’s more than just pretty pictures.