Questions to Ask When Hiring a Realtor
I spoke with a seller recently who told me that he was not satisfied with his realtor. I asked him how he came to hire him. He said he called many agents and he was the first one to pick up the phone. This list will hopefully spare you the aggravation of hiring the wrong person to sell your house.
1) How many years have you been actively selling real estate? (Some agents may have been licensed for many years but never sold a house) It's not how long a person has been in the industry but how well they do their job that's important. How many homes have you sold? Are you a realtor? (A realtor is held to a higher standard of ethics and must be a member of the realtor associations. Are you a full time or part time agent?
2) What is your marketing plan? Now that the market has changed from a seller's market to a buyer's market, have you made any changes to your marketing plan? Do you create the property flyer yourself or does a company create them for you? (Ask to see a copy of the flyer; you want it to convey a professional representation of your house.) Are the flyers color or black and white? What other advertising resources do you use?
3) Are you a member of a team, if so what are the responsibilities of each team member? Which member will represent me during the transaction? How often will you communicate with me regarding the status of my listing? May I have your cell phone number and email address? How timely are you responding to messages?
4) How will you describe my home in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service)? Will there be photos with my listing? Listen to determine if the agent will hire a professional photographer to obtain the best photos of your house for the MLS. You also want to ascertain how many photos will be attached to your listing. Did the agent mention that she would provide a virtual tour of your home for the Internet? (Buyers will determine which homes they want their realtor to show them based on the photos and/or the virtual tour they view on the Internet from the comfort of their homes.)
5) Do you have a website? Will my house be advertised on your website? What is your website address? Does your company have a website? What is the web address of your company?
6) I keep hearing about staging. How do you feel about staging and is it necessary to sell my house? If an agent tells you the house is perfect the way it is, although it may be lovely, there is a difference between livability and marketability and every house can use some tweaking to showcase its best features. Remember your house will be in competition with over one hundred and fifty other homes in Fountain Valley..
7) I understand that often times agents don't leave business cards when showing or previewing the house, how will you keep track of who is viewing my home? (Agents can check the codes in the lock box regularly to determine who has shown your house.) It's important for the listing agent to obtain buyer feedback from the buyer's agent.
8) Will you provide open houses and if so how often? Will you hold it open yourself or will it be one of your associates? What days and times will the open house be conducted?
9) Does your office provide agent caravans to preview new listings? During the first week my house is on the market, will you put my house on the broker preview sheet for agents from other companies to preview? Will you serve lunch or some other goodies? (Feed them and they will come.)
The agent's commission is negotiable however in this slower market most agents will spend considerably more time and money on your listing than ever before. The commission negotiated at the time of the listing contract is normally divided four ways. With a full commission of six percent, three percent will be divided between the listing agent and the listing broker and the other three percent will be divided between the selling agent and the selling broker. Offering a 3% commission in the MLS will attract more buyer showings than a discounted commission. Ask to see a copy of the listing once it has been placed in the MLS to ascertain if the commission offered is the amount you agreed to.
The length of the contract is negotiable. Although six months is the industry standard you may request a shorter term, 3 or 4 months so you aren't stuck with an agent who isn't performing satisfactorily. If at any time during the listing period you are not satisfied with the agent's performance, make a list of the problems and contact their office manager to discuss a resolution.
Now that we have established the listing price, how long do you believe that it will take you to sell my house? The average time on the market in Fountain Valley is 53 days. Staged homes usually sell faster and for a better price.
If an agent suggests a higher listing price than the comparative market analysis provides, show the agent the door. Some agents will "buy the listing" by providing the seller with a higher than reasonable list price which sounds enticing to the seller; the house will linger on the market without any offers, because the buyers know the house is overpriced. Once the agent has the listing for a few weeks he will start to harp on the seller to reduce the price.
Ask the realtor for the names and phone numbers of recent sellers in your area who were represented by this realtor to determine what practices the agent used. Ask the seller if they would hire the agent again and why? Interview two, three or four agents before you sign on the dotted line. After all is said and done, trust your instincts. Happy selling!
Susan Saurastri, a Fountain Valley resident is a realtor with Star Real Estate. Contact her at 714-962-8136 or http://www.fountainvalleyliving.com/