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Six Questions to Determine If the Consultant Is a Specialist

Okay. You've decided that working with a real estate consultant is the right move for you. But how can you gauge the level of competence and expertise of the consultant? Here are some questions to pose:

1. How long have you been in the real estate business? How many of those years did you perform fee-for-ser¬vices consulting engagements for consumers or com¬panies? It's doubtful that someone who has had three years' or less experience in real estate has either the experience or the base of knowledge to perform in-depth consulting engagements. While they may have counseled with consumers, consulting requires a much deeper needs-based analysis often seen only in profes¬sionals with five or more years' experience.

2. In which areas are you considered an expert? If the per¬son you're interviewing laughs, claiming that he's more of a jack-of-all-trades generalist, or if she holds herself out as an expert in more than half a dozen areas, it's doubtful that the person has true expertise in any area!

3. What are the two primary specialty areas or targets you focus on in your consulting practice? If the inter¬viewee can't spontaneously name the specialty areas he focuses on (those which generate the majority of his work) he is not a specialist in what he does.

4. What type of consumer profile or demographic market do you typically assist? Anyone with a specialty can pin¬point the consumer profile of those she most often assists. This is not a marketing guru question. It's a logical business target question.

5. May I see letters of reference from satisfied consumers? May I contact any or all of them? Anyone who touts a his¬tory in real estate consulting will be happy (even eager) to show you his letters of reference from satisfied con¬sumers. The only exception might be someone new to consulting, yet experienced in a specialty niche in a real estate–related field such as appraisal or mortgage bank-ing. At the very least, obtain personal references from the consultant and ask permission to call and talk to at least two of them.

6. Why should I work with you over your competition? What makes your services unique? Someone proficient in his craft won't hesitate to blow his horn about how his services exceed those of his competition. Called the uniqueness quotient, it's one of the best ways for consul¬tants to build top-quality repeat and referral business and have you gravitating to them with in-bound requests for business.

If you decide that working with a real estate consultant is in your best interests, look no further than a Consumer-Certified Real Estate Consultant® designee. Check for one near you at


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