Getting the best real estate agent to sell your home (also known as a listing agent) can be challenging if you do not know some important tricks of the trade.
First of all, experts note that two of the biggest errors home sellers make when choosing an agent to sell their home is making their choice just based on the highest list price for the home and the lowest commission.
Some sellers might say: What is wrong with wanting the highest price and the lowest commission? But those two items have little to do with hiring a good listing agent.
More About List Price
Agents cannot really tell you how much the home will sell for. A listing agent CAN provide you with comparable sales and pending sales, as well as active sales. But you are going to select the sales price and the buyer will let you know if the price is fair. An agent can suggest a list price that will attract more buyers, but a lot of it is left to the buyer.
Keep in mind that the agent who suggests the highest list price may be inflating the number to get the listing. If you see a high price, ask for comps that support that price. If the listing agent has no data to back up his list price, you may want another agent.
It is wise to look for an agent to sell your home who gives you a price range. It could be a spread of $10,000 or even more. Many factors will decide what that range is, such as location, whether the market is hot or cold, and what improvements have been made.
Also note that the best time to get an offer on a home is in the first 30 days, and 21 days is the best. If the home has been priced right, you will get an offer. But if the listing agent prices it too high, you might not even get a showing. Buyers will avoid the home and you will reduce the price. This leaves people wondering if there is something wrong with the property.
About Choosing Agents by Commission
Real estate agents are all different. Keep in mind that about 10% of real estate agents do 90% of the business. Each has their own advertising budget and marketing techniques. By selecting an agent with a big advertising budget and corporate dollars to match it, you could get more exposure to more buyers. Reaching more possible buyers makes it more likely you will get a good offer.
If you choose an agent based upon a low commission, you should ask yourself why is their fee lower than the competition? Is it because the agent is not good enough to compete based upon knowledge, service or negotiation skills? Is the agent that desperate for business?
However, there are cases where a quality listing agent might offer a lower commission. Consider:
- You are purchasing and selling a home at the same time. This gives both transactions to the same agent. Some agents might give a discount.
- You are willing to take on substantial legwork, including marketing, advertising and all expenses related to the home sale.
- You promise to give referral business to the agent.
- You are selling two or more homes at once.
- You lack the equity to pay for a full commission.
- The listing agent may lose the listing unless they match another agent’s fee.
If you are interviewing several listing agents and you cannot decide between them, ask to see their recent sales record of original list prices and final sales numbers. Usually, the lower fee agents will have more price reductions and longer days on market. The different between agents who charge 5% and 6% is 1%. Will you come out ahead if your final sales price is 2% less because you went with the lower fee agent?
Marketing Is Key
The best listing agents have good marketing. Marketing is what will sell your home. You should ask to see a copy of the agents plan to market your home. At the very least, the marketing plan should have these elements:
- Professional signs with the cell phone number of the agent
- Follow up reports on any buyer showings
- Broker previews
- Incentives for brokers
- Advice for staging
- Marketing targeted for the Internet
- Newspaper advertising if it is warranted
- MLS exposure with at least 36 photos
- Virtual tour online
- Marketing distribution to major websites
- Financing flyers
- At least two open houses
- Direct mail
- Board of Realtor meeting exposure
Characteristics to Look for in a Good Agent
- Experience: Let a new agent learn on someone else’s sale.
- Education: Ask what certifications they have.
- Honesty: Your agent needs to be honest; trust your gut on this.
- Networking: Agent should have a large network; this is what gets homes sold.
- Negotiation skills: You want a skilled negotiator, not someone who will take the first offer to make a commission.
- Good communication: Your listing agent should be available by phone and email during business hours and return inquiries within a few hours.