When you’re buying your first home, your relationship with a real estate agent can either be a smooth, easy-going experience for you or a complete nightmare. If you and your agent aren’t a match, it’ll take longer for you to find the perfect home, or your current home may never sell.

To make sure you’re working with the best agent for your needs, here are five questions every buyer or seller should ask prospective real estate agents before working with them.

After earning a real estate agent license, agents should be equipped with enough knowledge to answer your questions, but their personality still matters. When vetting your agents, focus on how they respond as well as the answers they provide in order to find the agent you want to work with.

Which local self storage company do you recommend?

When you’re selling your home, agents will stress the importance of staging your house because it makes potential buyers feel more at home. Sellers will need a place to store unneeded furniture in the meantime, which is where self storage comes in.

Buyers may need a storage option, too, if they’re selling a home or don’t have space in their new house. They can put furniture, appliances and other things in there until room can be made for them. Regardless of why you need a self storage unit, for maximum convenience and peace of mind, you will probably want to make sure that it is accessible 24 hours and has a high level of security.

Do you work with both buyers and sellers?

Some real estate agents work with both buyers and sellers to expand their customer base, but these agents may not be the best option for you. Sometimes an experienced real estate agent can wear both hats and offer insight on either side of the process. Still, it’s better to work with a specialized agent because they’re more knowledgeable about your side of the process and likely have an established sales network.

How many homes have you sold in your career?

Most agents work part-time, especially when starting out, because they have another full-time job, or they might be partially retired. Full-time agents are more likely to devote more time to your needs. However, if they have a good track record, don’t count them out just yet.

If your agent of choice has had many years in the game and can sell homes quickly despite being part-time, you should consider choosing them over a full-time agent. Real estate agents close an average of 10 homes per year, so if they’re selling above that, nab them immediately.

Do you have references I can call?

While it’s good practice to research your agents online before you hire them, it’s better to speak to their past customers. If you hired an agent who is newly employed at their company, you could call their references. Even if your agent’s information is available on social media, it doesn’t tell you the full story.

Always verify your new agents with the same rigor any manager use would who is thinking about hiring them. If your agent can’t produce a list of satisfied clients, do what any other employer would do and move on. They may have something to hide, and it’s probably not worth looking into it.

How do you want to be compensated?

Real estate agents are typically paid a percentage of the commission the listing broker earns on the transaction. For example, if an agent sells a $200,000 home at a 6% commission rate, this equals a total commission of $12,000. Both the agent and the broker earn $6,000 each.

Although it’s tempting to hire an agent with a lower commission rate (or negotiate for one) to save money, they’ll likely to be inexperienced at selling homes. The average commission rate is 5.8%, so stick around that amount for a better experience.

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