Step #3: Choose a Realtor
Hiring a listing agent is crucial to your entire experience as a home seller. The person you choose will be involved in preparing your home for sale, establishing a listing price, marketing your property and negotiating the transaction.
While you might be tempted to hire a friend who has a real estate license or your co-worker’s sister, remember that the person you enjoy meeting for drinks isn’t always the best REALTOR® to represent your interests. That friend could turn out to be the right agent for you, but before you choose him or her, take the time to get recommendations for several agents and interview them.
You’ll be paying a significant commission to this person (often 6% of the sales price of your home), spending time with them, and relying on their advice to sell your home for the best possible price and as quickly as possible given market conditions.
What to Look for in an Agent
Many sellers are tempted to choose the REALTOR® who suggests the highest list price for their property and who gives their home the most compliments, but you’re better served by a realistic REALTOR®.
You need to find a REALTOR® with whom you can communicate easily, someone who knows your neighborhood well and has a good marketing plan to reach buyers who are not only interested in your home but are also qualified to buy it. Most REALTORS® have experience looking at homes and can offer advice about the condition of your home and ways to improve its appeal without overspending.
When you talk to neighbors and friends about their recommendations for a REALTOR®, ask them how easy it was to reach the agent when they had questions, and how much support and advice the agent gave them throughout the sales process.
Questions to Ask During the Interview:
A REALTOR® typically has a listing presentation she provides for sellers—often in the sellers’ home so that she can get a look at the property and its condition. Some of your questions may be answered during the presentation, but if not, you may want to ask the following:
- Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors? REALTORS® must abide by the NAR’s code of ethics. In addition, each state’s real estate license requires continuing education for agents.
- How many sales did you complete last year?
- In what price range do you sell most of your homes?
- What was the average difference between sales price and list price? While this depends on your local market conditions, a REALTOR® who often sells homes well below list price may not be advising sellers to price their homes correctly or may be inadequately marketing homes.
- What is your marketing plan for my home? How many websites will include information about my home? Where will you look for buyers?
- Do you have advice for me about the condition of my home? Do you have expertise as a home stager or do you recommend that I hire a professional stager?
- Can you recommend contractors and moving companies?
- How often should I expect to hear from you when my home is on the market?
- Will you provide me with regular feedback and updates about potential buyers?
The most important conversation you will have with your agent is about the price of your home. The REALTOR® you choose should present you with a comprehensive market analysis that compares similar homes that are on the market, have sold recently and have been taken off the market.
You are paying for your REALTOR®’s knowledge and expertise, so listen carefully to the advice you receive and choose your agent thoughtfully.