10 Things To Ask Your Potential Agent Before You List
1. How Long Have You Been in the Real Estate Business?
While experience in the real estate industry counts, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should go right away with the agent with the longest tenure. An agent who may have less years in the business might have closed on more transactions in the amount of time they've been licensed than someone who's been at it for more than a decade.
Look for someone experienced enough to handle all aspects of the sale, including recognizing signs of a potential problem as well as dealing with and resolving difficult situations. All the more better if they has the same enthusiasm and motivation as a freshly licensed agent who tends to have more time and drive to concentrate on their clients. Don't forget to ask too what professional organizations and local community groups they belong to as this will give you an idea about their networking abilities to find you potential buyers.
2. Can You Tell Me About Your Sales Records or Stats?
Aside from searching for one who knows your local market and has done recent deals in your neighborhood and nearby communities, you would want a competent listing agent capable of negotiating and closing sales prices near the list prices. Called the list-price-to-sales-price ratio, this speaks volumes about the agent so you should look for one with a ratio close to 100%. If it goes over 100%, it means the agent is able to sell for more than the list price.
Other things to inquire about would be the property types and price range for the homes the agent has sold. Ask too if they have a database of clients they can suggest your property to, or if they work with buyers in this price range as that kind of insight helps make them an effective negotiator.
Speak with a number of agents to get an idea of the average list time in your neighborhood. If the agent's time on the market is faster than the neighbourhood average, you might need to double-check that they're not low-balling the asking price to sell a home more quickly.
3. What Is Your Strategy For Marketing and Selling My Home?
Marketing is a vital tool to selling your home but what works for a previous client might not work for your home so your agent should be able to come up with a gameplan tailor-fit for your listing. Aside from posting your home on the MLS, will they be doing direct mail, send e-flyers, print advertising like brochures and newspaper ads or a mix of these options? How often are they going to hold Open Houses? Will your home have a custom website or even a virtual tour? Do they actively advertise on social media?
Will your agent use quality photos when advertising your home? Are they be able to provide you a sample flyer or brochure and if so, how's the quality, design and choice of words used? At a glance, does it highlight your home's best features and give buyers pertinent information about the listing?
Is your agent shouldering any marketing costs, too? Do they also have any repairs, upgrades or staging suggestions to help your home stand out? Discuss with your agent about Open House schedules and find out if they're able to accommodate or adjust to your schedule.
4. What Are the Three Things That Differentiate You From The Other Agents?
From innovative marketing strategies to unparalled knowledge of the local market they're serving to being excellent negotiating skills, a good agent is ready to tell you why they are the best person for the job and what makes them stand apart from the competition. You might also appreciate the same qualities that most consumers say they are looking for when choosing an agent: honest and trustworthy; assertive; friendly; analytical; good communicator; extensive online marketing; and/or available by phone or e-mail.
5. Can You Provide Me Your References?
How do you find out if your agent not only served his or her clients well but consistently met or even exceeded expectations? You check or ask for references. You might find references on an agent's website but better to ask too to see letters of reference, like thank you notes or letters to their broker. A good and confident agent will happily supply you with a list of previous clients. A good rule of thumb is a minimum of three references.
Check if any of the references are related to the agent. Call and ask their references or even their previous clients about their experiences with the agent- what made them hire this agent? How long did it take to sell the property? How easy was it to communicate with them? Would they ultimately recommend them? This way, you're able to get an idea of what it's like to work with your agent day to day and if they consistently deliver.
6. How Much Should I List My Home?
Priced your home too high and it will stay on the market for a long time; priced it too low and you'll miss out on top dollar. Don't just stop at asking an agent how much your home would sell for especially if it's a sounds too good to be true price and it's off the top of their head- follow-up by asking what they're basing it on. A competent agent would back up their answer with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), a listing of homes currently for sale and recently sold in the area.
Aside from details like price, square footage and number of bedrooms, a CMA illustrates how your home measures up to others that are selling in the neighborhood and help determine a realistic listing price. It can also shed light on what home types and features are popular with buyers in your area and how long similar homes stay on the market before getting sold. The CMA or "comps" can also help give you an idea about the experience and expertise of your agent with your local market and area.
7. How Will You Communicate With and Update Me?
Right from the get-go, your agent should be able to tell you how they're going to keep you in the loop, what type of updates you can expect like say, your listing's first week of online activity or Open House turnout, and how frequent you can expect to hear from them- would it be everytime there's an interested buyer? Will it be by text and/or email, or would it be a lengthy phone call for important developments? Can you contact them outside business hours or even on their home phone?
Both of you have preferences and schedules to keep so understanding how your lines and frequency of communication is just as important in the homeselling process. This would be a good opportunity to ask them too on how they plan to track and follow up on serious leads and Open House attendees.
8. How Much Are You Going To Charge Me?
While all real estate fees are negotiable, most agents take a percentage of the home's final sale price which varies per agent but typically hovers around 6 percent of the selling price. Your goal with this question should not be about finding the cheapest agent but what services are included. Not only does this help you compare one agent to another, it's also a good indicator of their negotiating skills- a good agent will be able to confidently justify their price.
Be wary of agents who agree to list for a lower commission as they might not make much effort and time to market and show your home. The more potential buyers see your home, the more chances you have to drive up the offer price from serious buyers.
And since you're already discussing their commission, better ask about the agent's cancellation policy. Will they release you from the agreement if you're not happy with the arrangement? Are they entitled to a full commission even if it's you who find a buyer without any help from them at all? Are there early cancellation fees or what is their company's policy about canceled agreements? Have they dealt with this situation in the past? Questions just as important as determining your home's listing price right before signing a listing agreement.
And while you're at it, you might as well ask to see copies upfront of the agency disclosure, listing agreement and seller disclosures. Another sign of a good agent is one with forms available for you to preview. You can opt to have them go over every detail in the listing agreement with you at a later time so you'll be able to understand it completely.
9. Who Will Be The Professionals I'll Be Working With?
Don't be surprised if you find out that your agent is working with a team as this is common nowadays. Be sure to ask which details of the business your agent would be handling and whether you'll be interacting with the other team members- will you be contacting your agent directly or perhaps through a secretary or another agent? Having a team might mean your agent will have more personal time with you as other people are taking care of the behind-the-scenes work for the listing. More importantly though, your agent and not another team member should be present at the most critical times of the transaction.
Next, ask your agent for a list or or help locating professionals in your area, from title companies to escrow officers to mortgage lenders, home inspectors and appraisers. They might need to explain to you who they choose to work with these professionals. A good agent would recommend getting all of this set up in advance as to prevent complicating the sale if not done beforehand.
10. How Long Will It Take For My Home Find A Buyer?
While the national average is 65 days, there is no guarantee or magic formula with how fast you can sell your home. Your agent can give you an estimate as an answer to this question and that's fine. Right now, you're trying to gauge that your agent is what they say they are- a local expert with an excelllent understanding of your current market and factors that might affect your home sale. Equipped with the necessary resources and network, your agent should be able to price your home right and find the right buyer in a reasonable time.
If you have any topics or questions you would like answered, contact The Shanna Day Dream Home Team - we’ll find the answers for you!
Shanna Day Dream Home Team
Keller Williams Realty East Valley