"Palos Verdes Resident since 1947"

How To Pick Your Agent

I remember about 1979 when I was interviewing agents, before I got into the business.  It was very difficult for me to figure out who was a good agent, as all had eyewitness testimony to their having walked on water.  Such criteria as the number of sales or “sales dollar volume” helped, but I wanted someone who was going to sell my house, and not just throw a bunch of listings against the wall and see how many stuck.  I also wanted someone who had a deeper understanding of the business than the location of the escrow office or which title company supplied the best donuts. 

Here is a list of questions that any agent should know without looking anything up, and which will give you a good picture of how qualified the person sitting in front of you really is to sell your house.   I sure wish I’d had such a list:


Questions To Ask Your Prospective Realtor 

1)  How long have you been in the real estate business? 

2)  Please provide a list of homes you’ve sold in this area. 

3)  How many homes have you sold in the last 12 months? 

4)  With regard to house construction, what is a “cricket” and what is its function?  Hint:  it’s not audible.

5)  What is a grade beam? 

6)  What is the “11th Treasury District Index”? 

7)  Speaking of loans, on an adjustable-rate loan, what is the “margin”? 

8)  List, beginning with the most important, the most significant factors in selling a house. 

9)  What is the current Conforming Loan limit, what are current conforming and jumbo fixed interest rates, and which local lender currently has the lowest rates? 

10)  Explain what contingencies in the sales contract are and how they work.



1)  I know everyone has to start sometime somewhere, but you really want at least 5 years’ experience.  And that means selling houses, not just having a license.

2)  If you’re in Palos Verdes, you want someone familiar with your market, not Manhattan Beach.  If they haven’t sold at least 3 homes in your area in the past 12 months, they’re not active in your area.

3)  The bare minimum would be 4-5.  The problem is that it’s very difficult to stay current on paperwork, laws, and general procedures, without actually selling homes.


4)  A “cricket” is a small gable on the roof, over the upper end of a larger “valley” or just above an obstruction such as a chimney, and used to divert water.

5)  A grade beam is a method of foundation repair, where what is essentially a reinforced concrete splint is affixed across a crack in the foundation.

6)  The 11th Treasure District, for the purpose of real estate, is an index used to set the rate of adjustable rate loans.  It has gone somewhat out of favor in the last 15 years and, with fixed rate loans currently so low for so long, many agents are no longer familiar with it.

7)  The margin on an adjustable rate loan is the “spread” between the index and the rate you are charged.  Think of it as lender profit.  Unless you’re the lender, the smaller the better.

8)  I’ll grant that there is some room for opinion here, but in mine, beginning with the most important, they are:  correct price, cosmetically appealing, easy access to see it, and a competent agent.  The rest (location, features, view, size, etc) are all built into the correct price.  Such as fancy ads and open houses are window dressing; they won’t sell the house if the important things aren’t in place, and the house will sell anyway if they are.  Don’t be taken in by promise of fancy ads.

9)  This is a moving target, but the current conforming loan limit is $417,500, with “jumbo conforming” up to $729,750, and “super jumbo” above that.  You have to wonder how they come up with these numbers but, generally speaking, the smaller the loan, the better the interest rate.  As to who has the best rates, you’re going to have to call me for the current answer to that, as it changes at least weekly.

10)  Contingencies in a real estate sales contract are generally provisions that protect the buyer during his due diligence period.  While any of those contingencies are open, the buyer may walk from the sale with impunity.  There is normally a limit of 10-20 days from contract acceptance, after which the buyer must sign them off.  It is important to understand that contingencies do not have a “sunset” on them, but must be signed off by the buyer.  I see contracts that go right up to the close of escrow with contingencies open, giving the buyer the right to walk the day before escrow closes and get his money back.  If you’re the seller, this is not good.

So call me at 310 613-1076.  I can expand on the above and explain other considerations that didn’t make the list.




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