Making the choice as to what real estate agent you use to help buy a home is critical. Right after the choice of what house is right for you, it is the most important decision you will make in your home-buying journey. The right professional will help you navigate the murky waters of offers, contracts, and financing. They will point you towards homes that you might like, taking your needs into consideration. The best way to find the right agent is by interviewing them. The obvious questions are, well, obvious. Of course you want to know how many homes they’ve sold in the area and how long they’ve been on the job. But savvy buyers know that, to really prove an agent’s mettle, you have to throw them a few curveballs. Here are some of the questions that smart buyers ask before settling on a real estate agent.

How do you handle difficult clients?

Odds are that you are a very nice person and your agent will have no problem treating you like royalty. But, to get a sense for how your agent works under fire, ask them about their most challenging client and how they handled him or her. Not only will the answer divulge how your agent deals with stress, but their amount of tact (or lack of it) can speak volumes. If they are willing to bad-mouth one client, no matter how much of a jerk, who knows what they will say about you behind your back! From surprising closing setbacks to specifics you want in a new home, there are bound to be a few challenges and you want to know your agent can handle them well!

How can we make my offer stand out? 

In a hot sellers’ market, an attractive house can quickly garner many offers. Obviously the ones bidding the highest prices will be main contenders, but what other tools does your agent have in their belt to ensure that your offer letter pops? From

“For instance, your agent should be able to ask the right questions that can give you an advantage, such as whether the sellers need a quick closing because they’re relocating, or conversely if they want to wait until the school year is over before moving their kids.”

If your agent is resourceful, you can gain the upper hand in the offer war by tailoring your bid to the seller’s needs and wants.

How will you make time for me?

A great agent is often a busy agent. Between their hustle-and-bustle schedule and your own (work, school, kids, etc), it can be tough to schedule time to look at houses, which is a critical part of the buying process. The right agent for you will help you narrow down your choices so you both only spend time on looking at the homes that best suit your criteria. Maybe your agent collects video tours to save time on footwork. If they simply direct you to the MLS listings and tell you to go at it, you can pretty much figure out that they aren’t willing to go the extra mile.