What We Do Is Recommend a List Price, Not Guarantee a Sales Price.
But if we do our jobs right and put forth every effort to analyze the comparable sales based on similar properties (not every single property that sold within a certain time frame and distance), we'll hit the mark or come awfully close to setting the list price just right (for the market that is).
I hear agents say all of the time, "I could have sold that house for $XXX,XXX. Of course if the agent didn't sell the house, there is really no way to back that claim up. In essence, it's all speculation.
You've heard the expression comparing apples to apples right? Well that same rule applies to real estate and comparison prices of homes sold within a given distance from a subject property.
If you are considering selling your home, be sure to pay extra close attention to the homes that have sold that are similar to your own. The house down the street may have sold for much more than the price your agent recommends for you own home, but that is likely because the house down the street contained some features that your home doesn't.
Don't take it personally. Real estate agents rely on data to make determinations and assessments. It's what we do. If you're going to be hiring a real estate agent soon, ask them to walk you through the steps of how they arrived at the recommended list price. Hopefully by doing so, you'll understand better where that number came from and why it makes sense.
And if you are in the Birmingham, Alabama area and are interviewing agents to list your home, I hope you'll afford me the opportunity to interview for the position of listing agent. I assure you, you'll be quite comfortable in your decision to hire me.