How To Hire A Real Estate Agent

For most Americans, a home is their most valuable asset. The equity that they have in their home will be of major importance to meet their needs in later years. Why then are so many homeowners nonchalant about choosing an agent to market such a valuable asset? Many believe that all agents perform the same functions. Not so! Real estate is like any other business. There are all kinds of people and personalities involved in the industry. Naturally, some are not very good at what they do, many are simply average, and a handful are truly exceptional. When it comes time to sell, don't trust your home equity to just anyone. You owe it to yourself to find the very best agent that you can. These simple steps will add dollars to your bottom line.

Select a few agents to interview. Ask friends and family to share the names of professionals that they have dealt with in the past. Pick up your local homes paper and look for advertisements that impress you. Phone each of them to arrange a time to meet. Tell them that you are interviewing agents and you'd like to know how they would help you sell your home. Tell them that you will not be making a decision at the meeting. You will be interviewing three agents, comparing their services and then choosing the one that you feel most comfortable with.

Questions To Ask the Agents

How will you market my property?
The type of agent that you want to deal with will arrive at your home prepared with a professional marketing presentation. This person will have put a great deal of thought into their marketing plan. They'll understand the business and know what it takes to get homes sold. They should be able to tell you exactly what they plan to accomplish in the next 48 hours, the next week, month, and so on. They'll have systems in place to help them deliver results for clients. An agent that shows up without a marketing plan is probably operating by the "seat of his pants".

How will you keep me informed while the home is for sale?
The most commonly heard complaint that we hear about past real estate experiences is what we've come to call, the invisible agent syndrome. This agent takes a listing and promises the world. Just as suddenly, he seems to vanish off of the face of the earth until another agent brings him an offer, or until it's time to renew the listing. Tell the agent you select that you expect them to commit to a plan of follow up with you so that you are always aware of what's happening.

How many listings do you have?
An agent with a large number of active listings can find themselves struggling to keep up. You want a representative that will be able to make time to market your home properly, follow up with buyers and other agents that have shown the home, and provide you with valuable feedback from showings. An agent with an inventory of 25 listings has less than two hours a week to devote specifically to you and your property.

What percentage of your listings actually sells?
Some agents have a large percentage of listings that expire while others virtually have none. This figure reveals a lot about an agents ability to market homes effectively, and give clients good advice on the most important aspects of marketing, proper pricing and showcasing the home. You'll want to know that the agent you hire has a solid track record of getting the job done.

What is your sale to list price ratio?
The sale to list price ratio is the percentage of list price that an agent averages in their transactions. It will give you an indication of the agent's negotiation skills. For example, a property listed for $100,000 that sells for $96,000 has a sale to list price ratio of 96%. A strong sale to list price ratio is an indicator of that agent's ability to sell and effectively convey the features and benefits of your home in a way that builds value in the eyes of the prospects and other agents. But beware, some agents will change an MLS listing at time of sale so as to look like home sold for full or close to full value in just a matter of days, when the home in fact could have been on the market for much longer.

What is the average selling time for your personal listings?
Studies have conclusively shown that properties that sell fast bring more money than those that sell slow. Buyers and real estate agents quickly become suspicious of homes that remain on the market for long periods of time. The longer your home is for sale, the greater the tendency for buyers to low-ball on the price. Additionally, there are many inconveniences that come with marketing a home. You need to keep the home in pristine condition at all times, doing some household chores two or three times as often as might under normal circumstances. In most cases, you'll want to leave the home when it is being shown to buyers. A quicker sale clearly means more money in your pocket and fewer inconveniences in your home.

Questions To Ask Yourself After the Interview

Am I comfortable with this person?
You are about to enter into an agency relationship. You will likely be spending a fair amount of time with the agent you choose to represent you in the sale of your home. It is imperative to the overall quality of your selling experience to select an agent that you feel comfortable working with. In fact, if after three or four interviews you are feeling uncomfortable with all the agents you've met, by all means, continue to interview. If you're not comfortable with an individual, there's a good chance that a potential buyer for your home will not be comfortable with them either. Uncomfortable buyers do not make offers!

Does this person seem well organized and prepared?
Examine the person. Take notice of their presentation materials. You want an agent that is prepared to get your listing up and running quickly. You do not want to be waiting for feature sheets to arrive a week after the property is listed.

Does this person seem sincere?
Most of us can spot insincerity a mile away. Try to assess each agent's sincerity towards you. Are they going to deliver the goods as promised?

What is this person's style of selling?
Do you enjoy being put under tremendous amounts of pressure to buy? The days of fast talk and high pressure are behind us. Nothing makes a potential buyer run faster or further than a high-pressure sales person. If the individuals you interview don't seem to respect your right and desire to make a good decision, please, send them packing. 

A carefully chosen real estate agent can be a trusted advisor and an invaluable resource to you through out the home selling process. Remember, you are dealing with one of your most valued assets. Most people spend more time shopping for a television or a new sofa than they spend selecting a real estate agent to sell their home. Don't make that mistake!

Your only obligation is to yourself. In fact, you owe it to yourself to take the time you need to find the very best agent for the job.