Questions to ask your Realtor
Questions to ask your Realtor
Don't just list your home with the first agent you meet at an Open House. Interview at least 3 agents to determine some very critical and important information about how that agent is going to perform. Ensure you write your questions down and tell each agent what your expectations are. How do you want to communicate? Email or phone calls? Make sure it's clear between you and the agent. Lack of communication and poor follow-up is one of the biggest complaints I hear about other agents. Test your agent to see how fast they return emails and phone calls. Again, this goes back to your expectations from the agent. Let them know up front. I always give a weekly summary about showing activity and market changes every Monday and provide up to date important info throughout the week as needed.
Ask if your agent is a Realtor. There is a difference between a sales agent and someone who has earned the title of Realtor. Have them tell you the difference.
Ask them how much experience they have representing sellers in this market. Some agents are strictly "buyer's agents". You want someone that is an experienced "listing agent". How many homes have they sold in your neighborhood?
Ask them, "How are you going to sell my home and what is your marketing strategy?" Ask them to show you specific examples of their printed marketing materials, direct mail examples, flyers, etc... Most importantly, ask them about their internet marketing strategy. 87% or more buyers start and do almost all their research on the internet FIRST. If your agent does not have a great website, digital flyers, email blasts, virtual tours, blogs and a host of other technologies, then I would recommend moving on to someone who does. If you want to see how tech savvy your agent is and how well they understand the importance of the internet in marketing your home, just go to Google, Yahoo, or MSN, type in, "the agent's name + Real Estate" and see what comes up about them. This will provide you an idea on how well they market themselves and their listings on the internet. There a literally dozens of websites that "Your Home" should be posted on. If your agent is only relying on newspaper ads, open houses , yard signs and the MLS to sell your home, then move on to someone else. You have to do a lot more than the basics.
Do your research on the value of your home. Not what you think its worth but rather, what the current market value is. I might "think" my house is worth a million dollars, but the real current market value is $825,000. Know the difference. Homes values are based on what a buyer TODAY would be willing to pay for a home similar to yours. I don't care what you paid for it 2 years ago. That fact is irrelevant. This is why you need to pay attention to the facts. The facts are current comparables that have SOLD near your home recently. (Within 3 months is best). No, Zillow is not very accurate with home values. Have the agent show you all the comparables to your home. These are homes that are very similar in size and condition to yours. Your agent should be able to adjust pricing and come within 2% to 5% of your home value. It's important to have an agent that is familiar with your neighborhood too. An overpriced home will NEVER sell. It's always better to price it right from the beginning. This brings me to my next tip.
Don't let the agent buy the listing. This means don't go with the agent that tells you the highest list price. It's not always the best option. There are top agents out there that will continually take listings because they LIE to the sellers and quote or agree to an overpriced listing. You might be saying, "Well, the Top agent in my neighborhood says it's worth way more than what other agents are saying." Well, chances are, if I told you a higher list price, then I have the best chance of getting the listing. That's why they lie. The quickest way to see if an agent "buy their listings", just ask them to provide you statistics of ALL the previous homes they have SOLD in the last year. But here's the kicker, ask them to show you what the original list price was versus what it actually sold for. This will show you how many times they had to go to the sellers and ask for a price reduction. It's much easier to price it correctly from the beginning. Overpricing tends to get a lower price later
Ask for client referrals. If they are experienced agents, they should be providing you referrals from previous clients. Ask them to provide at least 3 previous clients that you could call and ask their opinion. I have dozens of referral clients that I provide to my prospective clients.
Will they be doing any open houses? Open Houses do not usually sell a home, but it does allow lots of buyers an opportunity to look through your home. Don't equate your agent doing a lot of open houses as "marketing your home" for the reasons stated above. Many agents use open houses to gather new buyer/seller leads. Nothing wrong with that and it does allow people driving around a chance to check out your house. I've only sold a few homes lately from a direct result of an open house.
What does the agent recommend to get your home ready for sale? You should love the agent that "does not hold back" and is honest with you about how to prepare your home for sale. They should be able to tell you directly that your pink walls and Grandma's yellow, lacy curtains from the 1920's have to go. They should have the know-how to stage a home or at least have someone they worked with previously that assists them with this. I provide before and after pictures of previous homes I've sold that show what a home should look like BEFORE I put it on the market. Most changes are simple and inexpensive. New paint, cleaning, de-cluttering and staging are some of the easiest things you can do to prepare the home. Curb appeal should also not be over looked. Clean your landscape up, mow the grass, put new sod down, pull weeds and paint as necessary. Add some color by planting blooming flowers. Create a good first impression. I've driven numerous buyers to homes that did not want to go inside because the curb appeal was so bad.
Do they use a high quality photos to showcase your home? This is one of my biggest pet peeves about agents. One of the most important aspects of marketing a home is using "high quality photos of the property". The last 2 listings I've sold had offers within the first week because the saw my photos on the internet (Craigslist) and contacted me and wanted to write an offer immediately. Both clients commented that the photos of the property really pulled them in. There is nothing worse than looking at dark, narrow, fuzzy photos of homes online. There is a direct correlation between good photos of a home and how quickly it sells. Many buyers will see a home online but will pass it up and not even want to look at it based on crappy photos. Your home should be highlighted with a great wide-angle lens (not a fisheye lens) and use correct lighting to showcase your home correctly. Some agents actually used to put homes on the market with NO PHOTOS. Finally, after many complaints, the local MLS changed the rules and made it a mandatory requirement to upload a photo of all homes within 24 hours. Cheap digital cameras will just not cut it in this day of digital online marketing. If your agent skimps on good photos, what else are they skimping on?
One of the most important issues for a seller is Commission. I never compromise on my commission. It is very expensive to market a home and I am worth every penny of my commission. I am a professional Realtor. I do not ask my professional doctor to reduce his fees or my attorney to reduce his fees, so why would anyone feel it's OK to ask a Realtor to reduce theirs? It all boils down to the age old adage, "You get what you pay for." You want to hire the most qualified, professional, honest and ethical agent you can. If he compromises on his commission, what do you think they are going to do when they are negotiating the price of your home?
Todd has been representing buyers and sellers in San Diego for the past 10 years. From multi-million dollar, elite properties to modest condos, Todd has negotiated his way to a highly successful real estate career. See more about Todd Armstrong & Associates at www.DwellSanDiego.com.