Questions to Ask a Mill Valley Real Estate Agent Before You Hire Them

  • Jeff Marples
  • 03/22/23

Between its groves of ancient redwoods, charming downtown district, and proximity to San Francisco, Mill Valley is one of those rare California gems that genuinely has it all. Take outstanding schools, beautiful estates, and lovely weather into account, and it’s easy to understand why you have chosen to purchase a property in this highly-coveted enclave.

Whether you are an ultra-experienced investor or a first-time home buyer, you know that working with an excellent, reputable real estate agent is one of the keys to ensuring you find the piece of Mill Valley real estate that exceeds your expectations. What may be less clear, however, is how to go about finding the perfect one. With numerous real estate agents in Mill Valley, selecting the right professional may feel like a dizzying endeavor.

Thankfully, Jeff Marples is one of the top Mill Valley real estate agents and is here to assist. Read on for his outline of the top questions you should pose if you’re about to initiate the process of finding your perfect Mill Valley home.

How long have you worked in Mill Valley?

Experience is crucial in a real estate agent. An expert Mill Valley real estate agent well will have the knowledge and capacity to steer you toward the neighborhoods, streets, and homes that suit your particular lifestyle and preferences most closely. Further, if you’ll be calling Mill Valley home for the first time, you’re bound to have a host of questions, from the best time to cross the Golden Gate Bridge for a trip into the city to the best restaurant in town for an anniversary dinner (here’s a hint: Picco tops our list). If they have helped clients buy and sell in Mill Valley for a time, they are bound to have the key connections and may be able to refer you to professionals ranging from a new hairstylist to a contractor.

What are the best neighborhoods in Mill Valley?

Make sure to ask the agent for suggestions on the best neighborhoods in Mill Valley. From Tamalpais Valley and Scott’s Valley to Alto and Sycamore Park, they will know which communities best fit your lifestyle and interests. 

What are the best schools in the area?

Mill Valley schools belong to the Mill Valley School District, which consists of five elementary schools, Mill Valley Middle School, and Tamalpais High School. There are also some smaller independent schools in the area, such as Greenwood School and Marin Horizon School, both of which serve preschool through 8th grade. Your agent should be in-the-know about these educational opportunities and can advise you on which neighborhoods are most convenient to your desired place of education.

Do you work solo or with a team?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, and both scenarios may have pros and cons. And yet, it’s important to know from the get-go if you will be dealing solely with one agent or a team. 

What is your preferred mode of communication?

Communication is vital in real estate relationships. You may want to check in with your agent via text about an offer you put in and not hear back, only to realize they responded on that email account you have not used in a decade. Ideally, you should work with an agent whose communication styles reflect your own, whether that’s over text, phone calls, or email and whether it’s 24/7 or only during select hours.

What is your proudest real estate achievement?

Real estate agents’ portfolios are typically posted online, giving you a preview of the caliber of homes they specialize in and a greater understanding of their success. Asking this particular question, however, can be much more revealing about a Realtor’s core values and authentic personality. Perhaps, it isn’t the luxury piece of Mill Valley real estate they helped a client find but a small, lovely cottage they sold to an elderly couple who couldn’t purchase a home for the first time until they reached retirement. Listen closely, as the answer to this question may offer the clarity you need to make a decision.

Is real estate your sole profession?

There is no correct answer to this, either; often, it’s a matter of preference. That said, many Realtors deem the profession their side career or a hobby. While there is nothing wrong with this, per se, they may not be as deeply entrenched in the Mill Valley real estate sphere to have access to pocket listings or an awareness of the smartest time to buy. Weigh their response carefully before moving forward.

How many clients do you have?

On the flip side, some Realtors may have a surplus of clients — so many, in fact, that your concerns, wishes, and needs fall to the wayside, and you miss the opportunity of exploring a property that would have been ideal for you. Purchasing a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you may make in your lifetime, and you want to be sure you have an agent who deems you a priority.

How many Mill Valley homes have you sold?

You want to team up with an agent who is well-versed in the local area and who has an understanding of selling properties just like yours. Even if they haven’t sold in your specific neighborhood, having real estate experience in the surrounding communities will give them a leg up over the competition.

How will you narrow down my home search?

A quality real estate agent will conduct multiple discussions with you and ask you to fill out an exhaustive questionnaire to determine your goals. They will pay attention to your wish list and make sage suggestions that are aligned with your circumstances and lifestyle.

What is your commission?

Unless it’s an ultra-high-end property where commission might be negotiated, you should shy away from choosing a Realtor who offers the lowest commission. A professional will know their worth, which will be reflected in their diligence and track record of successfully completed transactions.

What inspections should I undergo?

Your agent should suggest that you order a pre-listing home inspection to ensure that you get ahead of any potential problems before your home enters the market. That way, you can address any concerns that will ultimately be revealed in the buyer’s inspection. Your agent will likely suggest you order a full home inspection, along with specialized pest and sewer inspections.

What home improvements should I make?

In addition to repairs, your agent should provide recommendations for upgrades or renovations that will make your home look truly astounding. You want to create a space that is sure to appeal to buyers, and no one is more in tune with what buyers want to see than your agent. They can suggest paint colors, furnishings and finishes, and other design techniques to make your home a space that stands out.

What is your marketing plan?

Your agent will have a host of tried-and-true marketing strategies up their sleeve. They will know all the right advertising efforts that get results, and they’ll have an extensive network of connections they can leverage to get the word out about your property.

What is your involvement in Marin County?

Chances are, you have selected Mill Valley because of its abundant natural splendors, superior shops, restaurants, and parks, gorgeous library, and tight-knit community. A real estate agent who gives back to their community in some way, whether it’s through donations or active volunteer service, is invested in its present and future. This is the type of agent to seek out, as they will be your partner in preserving all of the wonders Mill Valley has to offer.

Jeff Marples falls into this class of Realtors. With 20-plus years of real estate experience throughout Marin County and San Francisco, he brings passion and exceptional expertise to the table. Book a consultation with him today to have a pro by your side while you explore Mill Valley homes for sale, and find the one that resonates with you.

*Header photo courtesy of Pexels

Work With Jeff

I first strive to understand your unique situations, whether you are buying or selling. Through asking questions and attentively listening, I support and guide you in finding the best fit.

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