(Published on - 1/30/2020 6:46:11 PM)
Selling a house can be a daunting task for any homeowner—knowing the right price to ask, preparing the house for sale, advertising and marketing the home, showing it to interested parties, negotiating the purchase price, dealing with the inspection issues, and preparing to move to another location are only some of the things homeowners will have to do in order to find success.
No wonder so many homeowners hire a real estate agent to list and sell their home!
Choosing to work with a real estate expert is a smart idea. Before turning over the sale of their home to a local listing agent, every homeowner should take their time to choose the best agent in their area.
Thankfully, there’s some good news for those homeowners. We have outlined below key questions that will need to be answered during the interview process.
These questions can be answered by scheduling an interview with a Realtor® or by doing a bit of internet sleuthing. Homeowners will definitely want to pursue both routes in order to gather as much information as possible before making a decision to hire an agent.
Does the agent have a good working knowledge of the local housing market?
In some parts of the country, as little as a one-block walk up the street can mean a $100,000 difference in listing price.
In neighborhoods like these, where value fluctuates so drastically with only a small change in location, a Realtor® will absolutely need the finesse that comes with neighborhood expertise. Without this intimate knowledge of the local market, a Realtor® will only flounder when attempting to market and sell a home at an appropriate asking price.
Plus, Realtors® who are very familiar with the local real estate landscape will be better equipped to recommend a home for sale to their currently searching clients. This vastly increases the chances of serious inquiries soon after a home has been listed.
What does the agent offer as part of their services?
Not all Realtors® are created equal. Some, called full-service agents, offer extensive marketing packages in their rates, meaning that they will take care of all the advertising that’s necessary to sell a home with the utmost efficiency. With the breadth of services offered by these agents comes a full commission cost, however, usually between 5% and 6%. Full-service agents typically work for larger real estate companies such as Realty Executives.
Discount agents, on the other hand, charge less commission but offer fewer services than their full-service counterparts. Homeowners who choose to list with a discount agent will find themselves with less robust marketing packages to choose from. In addition, many discount brokers will require that the homeowner complete many of the tasks that a full service brokerage handles.
In the case of uncertainty, homeowners should ask upfront about an agent’s rates and services—it's basic information like this that builds a foundation to ask more complex questions.
When researching available services and comparing real estate professionals, homeowners can also use this opportunity to brush up on the differences between real estate certifications. There is, for example, some distinction between a real estate broker and a real estate agent. Brokers will have a higher level of education, and in some cases experience.
Generally, homeowners can accomplish their goals equally well with either brokers or agents, but some may have reason to prefer hiring a real estate broker with a greater depth of knowledge and expertise.
Does the agent seem interested in learning about the unique needs of their clients?
This question is best answered on a one-on-one basis through an interview. A Realtor’s® mission statement online can wax poetic about passionately meeting the needs of each and every client, but the most genuine answer will become obvious during a more personal discussion.
Homeowners can benefit greatly from being forthcoming about their concerns during interviews with real estate agents because there’s a lot to be said for an agent’s response to an out-of-the-ordinary request. An agent who is willing to go above and beyond for their client will be quick to offer guidance or ensure that they will make appropriate inquiries to answer unique questions and meet unusual needs.
Real estate agents who seem uncomfortable with the idea of deviating from their routine for the sake of a client’s concerns are likely not the best choices for hire.
How much experience does the agent have?
This isn’t to say that a new Realtor® can’t do a great job and promptly sell a home for a stellar price, but there is something to be said for years of experience and a proven track record of success. Sometimes, it’s easy to gauge experience from information gleaned online. When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to ask a Realtor® under consideration for references from past clients.
Giving those references a call can yield incredibly valuable insight into a Realtor’s® past work. Plus, this provides an opportunity for a candid discussion about the services offered by the Realtor®, the client’s satisfaction, and a review of how smoothly the negotiations proceeded.
More specific questions about experience can be asked during an interview.
Does the agent have a strong online presence?
U.S. News discusses how the internet has drastically changed the way potential homeowners search for listings and demonstrate interest in a home, making the way that an agent markets their inventory online all the more important.
Luckily, this is one question that can be answered easily with a quick internet search. An agent with plenty of hits on popular search engines will have a wide reach to potential buyers who are searching for homes in the area. A wide reach means more inquiries, and more inquiries mean the possibility of more competitive offers!
Maintaining a well-kept social media presence also suggests professionalism and transparency, both of which are critical qualities for an agent to be successful in their field. Quickly scanning any social media profiles can say a lot about an agent, too, so homeowners shouldn’t neglect this opportunity.
What does the agent’s current listing inventory look like?
There’s something to be said for balance here. While a homeowner might be wary of an agent with very few listings, an agent with many listings which have been on the market for some time could be indicative of a bigger problem. Sure, a stubborn property crops up every now and again that even the most talented agent has trouble selling, but when an agent’s inventory is full of unmoving properties, the homeowner may want to prod a bit further.
A small inventory, on the other hand, may mean that the agent will be more available to provide thorough time and attention to a new listing, but it could also be indicative of fewer homeowners wanting to list with the agent.
Also, homeowners should take this opportunity to double-check the characteristics of the other properties in an agent’s inventory and prepare for a bonus follow-up question: Has the agent been successful when selling comparable homes (in the same price range and in similar neighborhoods)?
Does the agent have any reviews?
At the end of the day, Realtors® are only human—this means they can’t please everyone! One or two bad reviews amongst a sea of positive accolades is probably not a reason for concern. The negative reviews should still be taken seriously by all means, but reviews are more useful as a general overview rather than a damning sentence.
Similarly, homeowners on the hunt for the best Realtor® would do well to be wary of agents with nothing but five-star reviews. Again, balance is key. Maybe it’s true that a Realtor® has had nothing but the most stunning performances, but it’s also possible that reviews which seem ingenuine could have been hand-selected from a larger pool of more realistic reviews.
Searching for reviews on neutral, third-party websites is the best way to ensure that the reviews contain nothing but the truth. These third-party sites like Zillow and Google ensure that reviews cannot be removed or altered in any way, whereas reading reviews and testimonials directly from a Realtor’s® website suggests that the reviews have been hand-picked to paint an ideal picture of the agent’s services and past successes.
How does the agent suggest a selling price?
While it’s understandable that many homeowners will gravitate toward a Realtor® who promises to sell their home at the highest price possible while charging the lowest commission, they should pay careful attention to the way that the Realtors® suggest a list price. In reality, it’s not so simple as selling a home for its highest suggested list price. Why? Because a single correct listing price doesn’t exist.
Instead, it’s a good sign if a Realtor® works equally to determine a price range with a homeowner based on the current state of the housing market. A good listing agent will reference recent sales and pending sales of comparable homes, often called a market analysis, then use this information to guide a homeowner toward a reasonable price that they’re happy with.
A real estate agent who knows how to appropriately price a property can be the difference in a home that sells within its first month of listing or a home that stagnates on the market, unmoving and destined for an unfortunate price reduction.
Consider Red Flags
This list of questions is the perfect way to run a quick analysis of any real estate agent under consideration because they’ll help to focus on the positives without also forgetting the negatives.
Sometimes, in the course of discovering the answers to each of these questions, some striking red flags will change the game entirely. Homeowners would do well to avoid hiring an agent who:
Suggests a singular listing price rather than a realistic price range.
- Has no online presence or has social media pages containing questionable content.
- Boasts no experience selling homes in the desired neighborhood or price range.
- Cuts corners on marketing and advertising strategies in order to reduce their own costs.
- Is not prepared to provide a full market analysis.
Aside from these lists of questions and warnings, there’s one final source of wisdom each homeowner should rely on when deciding which Realtor® to hire—their gut!
Forming a relationship with a Realtor® isn’t so different from any other relationship. Sure, the interactions between a real estate agent and a homeowner are rooted in professionalism, business, home buying, and home selling, but homeowners would be remiss to ignore the basic tenets of communication and connection!
If an interview with a Realtor® yields nothing but bad vibes, think again. A “perfect” resume and robust listing inventory mean little if the agent isn’t personable or willing to work amicably with new clients, regardless of their individual needs and concerns.
If you are considering selling your home, consider contacting Realty Executives Exceptional Realtors® at (866) 742-5732 or email us at ClientCare@RealtyExecutives.com. We will be happy to provide you with a complete market analysis from a professional Realtor® in your market.