Before buying a home and hiring a real estate agent, you should obtain a list of references from the candidate and contact his or her former clients to get an idea of what it's like to work with the individual. If you've never contacted references before, however, you may be at a loss as to the kinds of questions you should be asking. Here are two important issues you should discuss with the agent's prior clients to help you decide whether the person will be a good fit for you.

What is the Agent's Communication Style?

You will be working with the real estate for a few weeks, if not months, to purchase your dream home. There will be a lot of tasks that need to be done by certain deadlines and quite a few people to interact with during the process. How your real estate agent communicates with you and other individuals involved can make the process a dream or a waking nightmare. Therefore, one of the first things you want to discuss with the client is the agent's communication style.

For instance:

  • Did the agent return calls and how quickly?
  • Was he or she easy to contact?
  • Did he or she explain things clearly?
  • How was the agent's demeanor? Professional or abrasive?

It's important the agent's communication style and demeanor matches both your comfort level and the personality of the people in the area where you're moving to. For instance, an agent who is fast-talking and abrupt may fit in perfectly well in New York but may repel sellers and vendors in the deep south. Likewise, it can be frustrating for you to work with someone who communicates sparingly when you prefer to receive frequent updates on various issues.

Focus on getting a sense of whether you and the client have similar communication preferences and whether the agent can meet those expectations.

Did the Agent Know the Market?

Another thing to discuss is how well the agent knew the market he or she was selling. This is particularly important if you're purchasing a home in a very competitive area as you're more likely to secure the home of your dreams if you work with someone who has quite a bit of knowledge of and experience with the market. For instance, the agent may know of pocket or off-market sales where you can get first dibs on the property.

Be sure to confirm the areas where the references live are the ones where you want to buy; otherwise, you may end up with an agent who has a ton of experience selling everywhere else except where you want to live.

To learn more about the homebuying process or to hire an agent to help you purchase a home, contact a local realtor.