How to Pick the Right Agent to Sell Your Home

If you’re selling a home, a good real-estate agent will help you set the right price, professionally market the home , pre-qualify potential buyers and expertly negotiate and finalize the deal while working to ensure the process is a smooth one!

A great agent has long experience with recent sales and can walk a tightrope, balancing optimism with realism, and diplomacy with brutal honesty. While most real estate company’s charge a 6% commission, some companies charge more while other companies that provided limited service will charge less and provide significantly less service. Here are some tips on how to pick the right agent to list and sell your home.

1. Round up good prospects

To identify prospective agents, you can ask for referrals from neighbors or friends, search the web, or use the search tools on the websites of the National Association of Realtors.

Try to limit your search to agents with credentials that match your needs. For example, search for agents who specialize in the sale of single-family houses, condos and luxury, as well as short sales (selling a home for less than the owner owes on a mortgage) and assisting seniors.

Most importantly you want someone who is passionate about what they do, has a strong internet/web presence and presents themselves in a professional manner. Although many half-hearted agents left the business in recent years after the housing bust, some of those who remain live under a black cloud, having lost a lot of income and confidence. Not only will you feel that lack of passion, but it may alienate prospective buyers. You want someone who will work assertively on your behalf but won’t come on too aggressively, this will not only turn offer buyers, but it will turn off their agents too.

2. Ask tough questions

You want an agent who is experienced, educated, honest and “intimately and passionately” familiar with your neighborhood however, the agent with a lot of signs in your neighborhood may not be your best choice, either. If a prospective agent has little constructive input about price and condition for you, be curious: Do they want to help you sell your house or do they just want to put a sign in your yard to use your home to cultivate additional buyers?

Before you start interviewing, check out – Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent and How to Choose a Listing Agent.

Each agent you interview should offer a comparative market analysis (a comparison of recent and pending sales of homes similar to yours) and know enough about the neighborhood and recent sales to explain why you should list your home for more or less than the neighbor down the street who sold last season. Don’t fall for the agent who glibly promises the quickest sale for the highest price.

3. Find out who the agent is working for

Most states require agents to disclose their “agency” relationships to you early on. But you’ll benefit if you ask prospective agents whose financial interest they will serve throughout the sales process — and hire an agent who will serve as your agent only. If an agent insists on dual agency (meaning that the agent lists your home for sale but may also bring in the buyer, thus pocketing the entire commission instead of splitting it with the buyer’s agent) or designated agency (your agent and the buyer’s agent work for the same brokerage firm), feel free to negotiate the commission down by a point or two.

4. Agent Marketing

A good listing agent lives and dies by marketing. Because marketing sells homes. Ask potential agents precisely, what they are going to do to sell your home? Here is the bare-bones minimum you should expect:

•Professional signage, including agent’s cell phone number.

•Lockbox.

•Follow-up reports on buyer showings / feedback to the seller.

•Incentives for broker (co-op commission)

•Staging advice.

•MLS exposure with 8 to 12 professional photographs.

•Virtual tour.

•Distribution to major Web sites.

•Full-color flyers.

•Direct mail to surrounding neighbors, out-of-area buyers / brokers.

•Exposure at Board of Realtor meetings.

•Feedback to sellers on buyer sign calls and buyer showings.

•Updated CMAs after 30-60 days.

•E-mail feeds of new listings that compete.

•Updates on neighborhood facts, trends and recent sales.

Remember, no single tactic sells homes. It’s a combination of all those methods that sell homes.

5. Research how long the agent has been in business

You can often find out how long the agent has been selling real estate from the state licensing authority. Or, you can just ask the agent. If they haven’t been in business five years or less, they’re learning on you and this doesn’t play to your favor.

Ultimately, what you’re looking for is someone who is actively engaged in a particular area and price range. You’ll want to know what knowledge of those two factors they can demonstrate and “what kind of market presence they have” as the agents past success is a good predictor of how successful they will be in assisting you selling your home.

6. Make sure your agent has backup

It’s important for an agent to have at least one assistant; many agents have a team of specialists to help them. Selling a home in today’s market requires more than a sign in the front yard and an ad in the newspaper. All the various outlets — many online — require feeding and nurturing, collecting quantifiable analytics and forwarding the info to sellers. At the same time, you don’t want to communicate through the assistants all the time; you want an agent with whom you can talk directly. To quell your inevitable anxiety, find out how frequently you’ll receive updates from the agent.

7. Look at their current listings

Check out an agent’s listings online. Two places to look are the agency’s own site and Realtor.com, a website that compiles properties in the Multiple Listing Service into a searchable online database.

Reports indicate that over 96% of all home buyers start their search online, and thus you need an agent who fully leverages this tool and uses it effectively. “A key thing is an attractive presentation on the Web” and one that is spread out across multiple platforms, that is you want an agent whose presence goes beyond a page on their company’s personal website – BHGRealEstate.com, BigHill.com – and extended to a personal site – JasonOpland.com – a page on other top real estate home search sites such as Realtor.com, Trulia.com, Zillow.com, etc.

You should also pay particular attention to the quality and quantity of the photos the agent includes with each of their listings as photos are absolutely critical to selling a home in today’s market! Today’s buyers are browsing homes online and thus these property photos are effectively a buyers initial tour of your home and are the primary factor used by buyers in determining if your home warrants an actual visit, ie a showing. The primary property photo has to stand out from the competition and quickly capture the home buyer’s attention so as to encourage them to click on the listing to view the additional photos and details on the property. As you’re checking out the agent’s listings online consider whether their listings effectively stand out!

8. Personal Guarantee

If the agent will not release you from a listing agreement prior to its expiration with valid justification and upon request, then you should hire another agent. Ask about it before you sign a listing agreement. Top performing agents who are confident in their abilities and the guidance they’ve provided will release you.

9. Sign the right contract

Ask each agent how long the listing contract would last. The slower the market, the longer the contract an agent is likely to demand. However, six months is typical. For slower-selling high-end homes (say, those over $1 million), agents will typically request a one year agreement. Agents don’t want to risk losing the listing after they’ve spent a few thousand dollars on marketing of the home.

Two of the Biggest Mistakes Home Sellers Make

Two of the biggest mistakes home seller’s make when choosing a listing agent are selecting an agent solely based on:

1. Highest List Price for Your Home

2. Lowest Commission

For many sellers focusing on these factors makes sense as Sellers want the highest possible price and to pay the least amount of commission. But those two criterion have very little to do with hiring a competent agent and one who can assist you in accomplishing your goal of selling your home for the most money possible and, in many instances these factors are completely irrelevant. Let’s look at why.

The Highest Suggested List Price

Real Estate Agents cannot tell you how much your home will sell for… this a fallacy. A listing agent can show you comparable sales, pending sales and active sales. But YOU choose the list price and the market will tell you if the price is right. See How to Set a List Price for Your Home

a. To get the listing, some agents distort the truth

Since agents can’t guarantee your sales price, the listing agent who suggests the highest price is probably untruthful. Ask the agent to show you numbers and comparable sales supporting their suggested list price. They probably won’t have them or the home sales will be located in a different neighborhood. See A Practice Called Buying the Listing

b. Look for a listing agent who gives you a range

There is always a price range. It might be apart $10,000 on the low-end versus the high, or the spread might be greater. Many factors determine the range, among which are location, temperature of the market and improvements.

c. Pricing is an art

The best time for an offer is within the first 30 days on market. If the home is priced right, you’ll get an offer. If it’s priced too high, you might not get any showings at all; buyers will shun your home and you’ll eventually end up reducing the price, leaving buyers wondering what’s wrong with your house.

Should You Choose an Agent Based on Commission?

Real estate agents are not all equal; each is unique. Remember about 10% of the agents do 90% of the business. Each has their own marketing techniques and advertising budget. By choosing an agent with a large advertising budget and company dollars to match it, you will gain greater exposure to the largest number of buyers, which is ideal. Reaching greater numbers of buyers equals better chances of a good

a. Why would an agent willingly work for less than competitors?

There is always a reason why a broker or real estate agent would discount a real estate fee and as with most things in life you usually get what you pay for. In most instances an agent who reduces their commission does so as they feel this is the only way it’s possible to compete in a highly competitive business, because the agent can’t stand apart from the competition on service, knowledge, marketing budget, or negotiation skills. If the sole benefit an agent brings to a table is a cheap fee, ask yourself why. Is the agent desperate for business or unqualified? Do you want to work with a desperate agent?

Sometimes full-service agents will negotiate a lower commission under special circumstances such as:

•You’re buying a home and selling a home at the same time, giving both transactions to one agent.

•You promise to refer more business to the agent, which would result in multiple transactions.

•You’re selling more than one home.

If you, or someone you know is considering Buying or Selling a Home in Columbus, Ohio please contact The Opland Group. We offer professional real estate advice and look forward to helping you achieve your real estate goals!

The Opland Group Specializes in Real Estate Sales, Luxury Home Sales, Short Sales in; Bexley Columbus Delaware Downtown Dublin Gahanna Grandview Heights Granville Grove City Groveport Hilliard Lewis Center New Albany Pickerington Polaris Powell Upper Arlington Westerville Worthington