Selecting the “Right” Real Estate Agent
Selecting the right real estate agent is a lot like selecting the right auto mechanic, or the right hair dresser. There is no “one size fits all” formula. The seller who has sold numerous homes will likely have different criteria than the first-time home seller, and the seller who just wants to “test the market” will not have the same needs as the one who just got a job transfer. Here are a few things to consider when searching for Mr. or Ms. “Right” Real Estate Agent.
There's an old saying about Dumb Luck not being able to take the place of Experience. And when it comes to buying or selling what may well be one of the largest financial assets you will purchase or sell, having an Agent with experience on your side simply makes good sense.
Any agent with experience knows that without a solid Work Ethic, all the experience in the world won't count for much if their client can't get in touch when they need them. Make sure your agent is responsive to your schedule.
Once you sign the listing agreement, which is a binding contract, absent some out of the ordinary circumstance, you'll be bound to that agent for the period of time agreed upon in the listing agreement, so it really is quite important that it be someone who you like and get along with. Take time to get a feel for who you are hiring.
Ask the agent for a list of the last three or four homes they had listed that have sold, and if it is OK for you to talk with those sellers.
Ask someone you trust for a referral. If you know someone who recently sold their home, ask them how they felt their agent performed.
Look at the way they market the listings they currently have. Have them email you a link to the properties they currently have listed, and then take a good look at how they are being promoted. Are the photos professionally done, or do they look just so-so? Is the description one that would cause you to want to see that home if you were a buyer, or does it fall flat? Are there supporting documents easily available, such as copies of the Seller Disclosure Statement, Plat Maps and Covenants for the development? Chances are very good that the way these homes are marketed will be the same thing you can expect for yours, as well.
Is their website professional looking, user friendly and easy to navigate? Statistically speaking, 93% of all home searches now begin on the Internet. Having a professionally done Website that is informative and up to date is a key element in how today's homes are marketed.
Ask about all the various places the agent markets their listings, and then go see how easily you can find them. For example, if they have 123 Main Street listed, can you find it on Realtor.com, Zillow or Trulia? Are good photos there? What about supporting documents? Will they run an advertisement in the real estate magazines? Will they create and provide listing flyers?
Let the agent know what expectations you have and ask if they find them to be realistic. This is really something your agent should ask you during the listing interview, but if by chance they don't, I suggest you bring it up. Don't wait until the first 60 days have passed and you feel like you should have had twice as many showings and now you're disappointed. This can take the Agent/Client relationship in a bad direction very quickly, and many times it could have been avoided if expectations had been defined up front.
Ask how they collect feed-back from the agents and their clients that have shown your home and how they share that feedback with you. An ongoing stream of feedback from showings of your home can sometimes uncover issues that you or your agent may not have been aware of but are a cause of concern to potential buyers. Knowing that these exist and correcting them if practical can make the difference between a sale and your home sitting on the market.
Ask for a 60 day “trial” period as part of the initial listing agreement. If all else fails, and you are just not happy with the way things have turned out, the last thing you want is to be “married” to them for a long period of time. And this goes both ways. The last thing an agent who has worked hard to build a solid reputation wants or needs is an unhappy client, so often, they will agree to the “trial” period, as well.
Plan in Place
To sum things up there's an old saying in the real estate business known as “Third Sign in The Yard”, and you really don't want your listing to be an example of that old saying. Your first 30 days on the market are in many cases the most critical, and you and your agent should have a plan in place that visits your progress and how you can evaluate your options at the end of that initial 30-day period.
We welcome any questions you may have, so please don't hesitate to let us know if we can be of any assistance whatsoever.