Tips to simplify finding a listing agent for your home sale, what you can expect from your agent and questions you should ask before hiring one.
Finding a listing agent is one of the most crucial parts of your home sale. Depending on your location, there may be dozens of agents vying for your business - or thousands. You’ll want to do enough research to find an agent with experience in your type of home sale.
Additionally, you want to choose an agent who communicates the way you prefer, whose personality matches yours and who isn't afraid to be honest.
What to expect from a listing agent
Some real estate agents represent both buyers and sellers, yet many specialize in selling homes. Your listing agent will help you from the first step to the home sale closing. These are some things your listing agent will do:
- Prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) to value you home
- Suggest any upgrades, repairs or maintenance that will increase home value
- Price the house competitively in the market with some room for negotiation
- Create a marketing plan that includes both online and offline tactics
- Schedule open houses and private showings for prospective buyers
- Negotiate offers and follow through on sale contract contingencies
Finding a listing agent
Personal referrals are a good way to start a list of potential listing agents. There is a good chance that anyone you ask will have either worked with a listing agent or know someone else who did. Friends, family and neighbors are good sources for referrals. You may also ask professionals who deal with agents often, like mortgage brokers, title agents and buyers agents.
Obviously you want to know how well a recommended agent did his or her job, but ask about the agent’s behavior, routines and communication. Your agent is going to be in your home and around your family often. Do you prefer to receive emails, texts or phone calls? Make sure you choose someone who communicates like you do.
Interview the prospects
Once you have a list of prospective agents, interview each of them to find out how they compare and which one best matches your style. Finding a listing agent who you respect and enjoy talking to is important because you may be working with them for months. Ask them all the same questions, such as:
- How long have you been in real estate?
- What types of listings is your specialty?
- How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?
- How do you price and market a home?
- Can you provide come examples of sale price to listing price?
- How do you negotiate a sale?
- What is your standard contract and commission?
- How many clients do you currently have?
- Do you have references from other clients?
- How will you relay news I don't really want to hear?
That last question is important. You want to pick an agent who will tell you that your home is not clean enough, you want to price it too high or you need to go to a movie during open houses. Agents say picking a listing agent who will be your doormat is a big mistake. You need someone who will be honest and assertive. Your agent is the expert. He or she is trying to help you - and that may require some advice you don't like.
Curious what agents say about evaluating their peers? They say it's naive to think all agents do the same work. Your agent needs to be an accomplished marketer, skillful negotiator and master of technology. This article provides great perspective from the insiders and may help you choose the right agent.
Research the listing agents
Agents are accustomed to answering these questions. Sometimes they will bring a brief CMA to your meeting to show that they know how to value your home and price it right. While you want a popular agent, be careful not to choose one who is too busy to give your sale the time and effort it needs.
Contact the references an agent provides and ask the former client what they liked most about that agent and if there were any areas in which the agent could improve. How did the agent communicate with other people involved in the transaction, such as the other agent, the mortgage lender, the title clerk and the buyer?
If you are struggling to pick between two agents in your list, attend a few open houses the agents have for other clients. Then you can see how they interact with prospective buyers.
Finally, you can also search the Internet for each agent’s name. Search results may include the agent’s involvement with organizations, blogs or articles, testimonials or complaints from past clients. Plus, you may scrutinize the agent's listings. Do the photos look amazing? Is the wording enticing? Is a video or virtual tour included?
What about your responsibility to the sale?
We asked some agents why relationships between realtors and clients go bad for another article and they all said it boils down to unmet expectations and poor communication. Not just on the agent's end either. You both need to know what is expected and that communication is a two-way street.
Yes, it turns out that you can be a bad client just as easily as your agent can be a shoddy professional. Open, honest communication is key at every stage of your home-selling process.
Review the contract before you sign
Your interviews and research will likely result in finding an agent who fits you and your home. The agent will have you sign a contract that specifies how much commission is charged and many other details. You cannot cancel the contract easily or without legal reasons, so agree to a sale period that feels appropriate. If the agent wants a six-month contract but you would like to evaluate his or her performance at three months, then ask for a three-month contract. You might even ask for a clause in which the agent makes less commission if your home sells in the first week.
Hopefully, finding a listing agent is the toughest part of your home sale and the result will be a smooth, profitable transaction. Use RealtyNow to connect with experienced home listing agents in your area.