What Questions to Ask A Real Estate Salesperson before hiring them?

I have gathered some questions from my experience selling high-end real estate as a salesperson to managing GTSA operations in South America over the past 30 yrs. I think anyone thinking of selling their real estate investments should consider asking these questions when interviewing a potential salesperson or company to use.

Before interviewing them, do some homework. The most important is to check their Web Presence in English and Spanish. If they have little or no presence, they should not be on your list of potential salespersons.

First, Google them, typing in such keywords as (real estate in South America etc ), and then look at their Social Media. Linkedin, Facebook Pages, Twitter. Join their mail-out system for new properties. Look to see if they have a blog or news site, useful for content marketing that can drive potential buyers to your property listing. i.e. contains information and news that a new buyer might be searching for.

Ask if they understand how SEO ( Search Engine Optimization ) keywords and blog articles are used in modern real estate marketing? Ask them to explain to you how it works. If they cannot explain it, then they are obviously not using it.

If it is Residential or Commercial property, drive around the area yours is located in and see who has the most signs and identify the salesperson representing that property. If the signs have little information about the property, that is a black mark.

Then, if possible, interview the salesperson on the above checklist in person.

Ask how do you get your listings? From your company or from past referrals. Past referrals mean they are a good salesperson who manages to get past clients to use them again and again… 

Ask whether they networked with others and if so, how and where.  Networking is vital, but ask what kind of networking? Professional networking among other real estate professionals or social networking throughout the community ( Polo Clubs, Rotary, Farm organisations, Private School boards etc.),  or by being active in the local community through nonprofit volunteering and civic involvement?  There are many forms of networking, but which ones indicate that the salesperson could leverage these relationships into a successful transaction for you?

Ask what’s your time availability if I have a question. ie. Seven days a week?

Ask, how many properties did they sell last year and where were they located?

Ask if the salesperson is licenced in their area of responsibility. ( they should have a number that you can cross-check with the local licencing board ) Many are not and work informally as a second or third income stream. Ask how many real estate related courses they took in the past year other than that required to keep their real estate license….again this tells you if they are vested in learning more about real estate selling or just caring about the money.

Ask for the names and telephone numbers of past and current clients and not just referral letters (some can be made up )

Ask how long you have been a salesperson for this company? Salespeople who move around a lot are normally ones to avoid.

If you are selling a mid to high-end residential property, ask if they can arrange to have it “staged “, particularly if it is vacant or is only modestly furnished. Only 5% of people see beyond what is in front of them, and a poorly presented home can distract potential buyers for the wrong reasons.

Home staging to improve a property’s presentation should highlight its strongest features and minimise its poorest and is probably one of the most important added value services for selling proposes.

Ask if they are a full-time salesperson? (If the answer is “No”, escort them to the door and wish them a “good day”.)

Ask, do you answer your phone immediately or respond within 20 minutes – 7 days a week? (If the answer is “No, I occasionally check my voice mail each hour or each day.”, do not list your property with that salesperson.) Genuine buyers are naturally impatient, and an unanswered phone is a lost selling opportunity.

The exception is when a busy, successful broker has an assistant or answering service who can answer the phone when a salesperson cannot and can answer basic questions about promoted properties. Remember, salespeople and their assistants should ask more questions than answer them, to enable buyer qualification.

Ask Is your real estate office open 7 days a week?

Ask “Why should I choose you?”  which is another good question.

Ask if they can refer reputable real estate lawyers or other real estate service providers, and would these people they referred be paying them a commission for this referral? This is very common and self-serving.

Ask if they are involved in Civic or Charitable organizations?

Ask what qualifications they hold and their significance to selling your property?

Ask what professional organizations they are affiliated with?

Reasons not to choose a real estate Salesperson or Company.

They opened the conversation by saying they were willing to charge me less commission than their competitors. Immediately be suspicious, as a skilled salesperson with a good track record has no reason to discount his or her fees. Weak negotiating salespeople will start discounting your property price expectations to get an offer and then try and condition you down to that level.

My friend or relative says they sell real estate, so I should use them. If you must use them, make them work alongside an experienced salesperson as an assistant broker.

Finally, get the salesperson to write you a formal proposal stating how they will sell your property which should include the following:

What do they believe its current market value is, and how did they arrive at that figure. i.e. genuine market sales comparisons, not others asking prices.

List of other competing properties in the area.

Who do they believe is the target potential buyer group, and what is that buyer’s profile.

You cannot sell secrets, so they should list in detail what media they will advertise in and how often. Is there a cost for this?

Finally, choose carefully, look for honesty and evidence of strong negotiation skills and you should not be disappointed.

Geoffrey W McRae – Training and Marketing Director
Gateway to South America

Contact the Gateway to South America team to learn about the best investment opportunities in the region. The company is a benchmark for foreign investors wishing to invest in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, providing expert advice on property acquisition and investment tours.

The Gateway Team – When You are Serious About Property


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About Geoffrey W W McRae

With a highly distinguished career spanning more than three decades across five different countries, New Zealander Geoffrey McRae has established himself as a leading authority on South American real estate, agricultural, and commercial matters. As the founder of Gateway to South America – a real estate consulting group specialising in six South American countries – Geoffrey has developed a reputation for discretion, expertise, and experience that has seen him represent some of the most prestigious clients in the region. His deep knowledge and experience of South American markets have placed him at the forefront of the industry and given him the opportunity to guide and advise with confidence and surety. His long and successful career – which continues to evolve and expand daily – is a testament to his talent, tenacity, and ambition.

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