The Worst Question to Ask a Real Estate Agent?

Michael Cuevas, a sales associate with Fulton Grace Realty in Chicago, says that asking the right questions of a real estate agent is an important part of lessening anxiety for consumers concerned about the home buying or home selling process. After all, the real estate websites where most shoppers start their home search can’t give them all the specific advice they need. So hiring the right agent involves properly vetting them.

But there’s one question most consumers think they should ask, Cuevas says, that has no bearing on how effective an agent will be for their client: What company do you work for? From a recent blog post Cuevas wrote:

“Prior to the evolution of the MLS and most of the online real estate search sites, the company [an agent] worked for used to matter. In today’s market, nothing could be further from the truth. Real estate companies today, more or less, offer the same product as their competitors. It’s no different than shopping for a mortgage. Most banks will offer you the same rates, it just comes down to who provides a better level of service.

It’s the agent who will make the difference in a making a wise financial decision, not the company on their business card.

Just because an agent is associated with the biggest company in town does not make them any more qualified than the agent at a very small office. Some of the best [practitioners] work for the smallest companies. If your agent constantly talks about how big their office is and how many sales their office had, they most likely lack their own personal experience and have to justify it with leveraging their company’s statistics.”

Do you agree with Cuevas’ point of view? Let us know in the comments below.

Graham Wood

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at

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  1. To some extent, this may be true, but absolutely a seller and buyer should be concerned with the brokerage the agent works for…more particularly, the agent should care. No, they are not all the same. Larger brokerages should have an E&O policy, multiple brokers besides the Designated Broker, better support and some offer non-competitive brokers. It is too easy for a small brokerage to close doors and re-open under a new name. In some occasions, I’ve heard of smaller brokerages keeping the sales commissions and not paying the agents then closing their doors. For the Buyer and Seller… They should want a brokerage that is vetted and will stick around. They have meat in the game and aren’t going anywhere.

  2. Regarding the question on what company do you work for: DISAGREE!!! the company that I work for has the largest market share, the best and most visited website, services that no other company in our area can offer, etcetera etcetera. Clients often come to us just because of our company reputation. I do agree that it’s the agent who actually provides the results though.

  3. Yes Graham, I’m an independent Real Estate Agent in PR and I didn’t have any problem to be that.

  4. Totally agree. Real estate agents do not owe their knowledge, expertise and success to a Brokerage Company no matter their name or size. It is the agent who will make each and every transaction a success one and will keep developing and growing its business with its dedication, excellent customer and personal services rendered to its clients in a consistent way. A Real Estate Agent who is proud of its job as an Independent Real Estate Agent, will keep improving its skills and knowledge in a daily basis by using the many tools available to real estate agents for their personal and business improvement. Each and every Agent is responsible for its success.

  5. Mike Cuevas NAILS IT once again! When I was listing/selling 100+ homes a month, I was an independent broker.

    While I do believe there are many great reasons why it can make sense to belong to a national franchise, none if them have anything to do with the agents ability to actually SELL THE HOME.

    A well educated go-getter from a no-name company has a better chance of success than a lazy, uneducated agent at a big name company, period.

  6. Thanks for shout out Graham! Feel free to check out the entire article on the link below! It created a listing so far…

  7. Thanks for article Graham and the video as well.

  8. I completely disagree with Bob Gilbert on this. Your company can have the largest market share, the best website, and umpteen other services, but if the agent is an idiot, nothing in the world will change that! Yes, some are good, some are bad and some are awful… it depends on the individual agent, not how big or glitzy their brokerage is!

  9. TOTALLY DISAGREE!!! only an agent that is not with a major brand, would even begin to think the BRAND does not matter……I am very proud to be associated with what I consider to be the best brand in the business, RE/MAX. RE/MAX is celebrating 43 years in the business, now in almost 100 countries, over 7,000 offices, over 100,000 agents. HOWEVER, IF I was not with RE/MAX I would be with one of the other MAJOR international brands ! SOOO get real with this discussion saying a MAJOR Brand does not matter, is tantamount to saying there is no difference between a REALTOR® and an agent that is not a REALTOR® All of the consumer reports bear this out, stick your head in the sand if you choose, bt I am here to tell you BRAND makes a HUGE difference to consumers. That is not to say there aren’t good REALTORS® that have no brand affiliation.

  10. I think that there’s really no worst question to ask an agent! Just like a lawyer, people pay for our services because we know what they don’t. I’ve had a lot of obvious questions asked in my day, but the simple fact is, consumers just don’t know — and if they did (or thought they did!!), I bet a lot less Realtors would get hired!