I answer questions for buyers and sellers in several on line forums and recently had a number of requests for what a home seller should look for in a listing agent and what questions to ask.
•1. Start by doing a few hours of research on line and with friends who live in your area. Ask around... get to know who has the most signs, ads and marketing material in your neighborhood. Compile a list of agent names and use these questions to help you determine which agent is right for you.
•2. Who are the most active agents? Not just the name you see most, the "neighborhood specialist" often is not as objective because of the perception that a sign in the yard is more important than listing your home at a realistic price. Look for at least three in the neighborhood.
•3. Interview prospective Realtors and ask for information. You can often get a good idea of which agents are the most professional by looking at their promotional materials. If their own materials aren't professional, how well are they going to market your home? Track how long each agent takes to respond to your request and how quickly they follow up. If they don't respond efficiently to your listing requests imagine how they'll handle potential home buyers.
•4. How long the agent has been in business and what professional organizations are they associated with? The length of time a real estate agent has been licensed is not a sure fire sign that they've been an active seller. They may have been in business for 10 years but only part time and an agent needs to be in business full time at least 2 years to be viable. So take into account what the time they have worked and also the professional organizations they belong to. The minimum should be a licensed professional who's a member of the local real estate board and multiple listing service as well as the state and National Association of Realtors.
•5. How many homes has the agent listed and/or sold in the area? Look for an agent who has experience with homes similar to yours and is active in your area. If your home has special features look for an agent with experience in those areas. Your agent should have a good record of selling homes, not just listing them. After all, this is your ultimate goal.
•6. Do the agent have an assistant or support staff? By employing someone to handle the details of their business the agent can spend more time servicing your needs.
•7. How often will the agent hold open houses? Simply putting a sign on your lawn and holding open houses every Sunday will not sell your home. Too frequently open houses are used for a newer agent in the office to attract buyers. No one likes to be pressured and it is best to have the listing agent hold the open house because they know more about your home and the area and are better able to help with all prospective inquiries.Look for an agent with a specific plan for each open house. The plan should be just one facet of a complete marketing plan.
•8. What listing price do you recommend and what is that price based on? Pricing is the most critical step to selling your home. Take great care in choosing an agent with the knowledge to price your home effectively. Keep in mind the selling price should attract prospective buyers to your home, get you top dollar in the current market and reflect the condition of your home. Be realistic and avoid ‘yes agents', who will say ‘yes' to any request or price while your home languishes on the market. Low ball agents will try to talk you into an artificial price simply to sell as fast as possible.
•9. What does the listing agreement entail, what are the beginning and expiration dates, and what are the fee amounts you will be paying? Have your agent go over every detail in the listing agreement with you until you understand it completely. Make sure the beginning and ending dates are on the agreement; in this market a good standard for length is four to six months. Know exactly what fees you will be paying and remember that less is not always better. If the agent stands to make very little commission you can bet it will be reflected in the amount of time and effort that is spent marketing your home. If the agent reduces their commission to get the listing it may mean they intend to spend very little money promoting the property.
•10. What types of things separate you from your competition and will you give me some feedback? - How effectively will they advertise? Do they have Internet presence? Will all the leads be followed up on by your agent? Agents who are innovative and offer new methods of attracting home buyers will measurably outperform agents who rely on methods of the past. Marketing effectively these days requires progressive strategies that add value and service for both buyers and sellers!
If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate in the Balcones Neighborhood or anywhere in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes School District area, I would be happy to be of assistance. Let me put my nineteen years success helping upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's finest neighborhoods to work for you. Contact me for a private consultation at your convenience!