How to Hire the Right Realtor
The process of selling a home can be a full-time job, so hiring a Realtor to do the heavy lifting for you can really be a huge benefit. Realtors have access to resources the public does not, so they can help you get the best price for your house in the least amount of time. When getting started, it’s best to find an agent who belongs to the National Association of Realtors and bound by a Code of Ethics. Ask family, friends and colleagues, who have experience working with Realtors, for a referral. Once you find a potential Realtor, take time to interview her to see if this is a person you want working for you. Just as you are sizing up the Realtor, know that she will likely be interviewing you too. Be wary of Realtors who don’t ask you questions and probe for your motivation. You wouldn’t work with just any agent off the street, and a good Realtor will be just as selective about her clients, too.
Here are some good questions to ask a prospective Realtor:
1. What is your list-price-to-sales-price ratio? This is the difference between the price that the Realtor’s properties were listed for (list price) and the price the properties finally sold for (sales price). Knowing the Realtor’s average ratio speaks volumes. A competent Realtor should hold a track record for negotiating sales prices that are very close to her list prices. The higher her ratio, the better she is at getting as close as possible to the list price. Therefore, your Realtor should have a high ratio that is very close to 100%.
2. How many homes have you sold in the last year? Realtors should know their business numbers well. If you ask a simple question like this, and she doesn’t have the answer, consider it a red flag.
3. How will you market my house? What is your best marketing strategy for my needs? Specifically, how are you going to sell my house? All Realtors should have a basic outline for marketing your home, but you’re looking for above and beyond the basics. You want her to use the basic outline, but additionally have the experience, creativity, and skill to customize a marketing plan unique to your house. Ask if a direct mail campaign is appropriate: why or why not? Your Realtor should have no problem with educating you on her reason for any given strategy. Where will she advertise your house? Your Realtor should have a menagerie of resources for advertising your property, not just a sign in the yard. Will you show me a sample flyer? You don’t want a cheap, poorly designed flyer representing your house, so ask to see a sample before they are printed and distributed. How do you market online? Do you have a unique website that drives buyers to my listing? Since 90% of home buyers start their search online, you definitely want a Realtor who is savvy at marketing online and driving traffic to your listing.
4. Are you familiar with my neighborhood?
Your neighborhood may have specific characteristics that your Realtor should know about. For example, if you live in a neighborhood like Aksarben, she should know how to navigate possible issues that arise from older wiring in these houses. Some insurance companies won’t insure houses with fuses vs. circuit breakers, so your Realtor should have a plan to overcome this problem.
5. How are you different from other Realtors?
A good Realtor won’t hesitate to answer this question and will be ready to fire off why she is the best choice. Most sellers say they are looking for a Realtor who is:
• Honest and Trustworthy
• Assertive and Excellent Negotiator
• Available by phone, text, or e-mail
• Good Communicator
• Friendly and Good Sense of Humor
• Analytical and Driven
• Able to maintain composure under trying circumstances
6. Can you provide references?
Every Realtor should have references. Even new agents have references from previous employers. When contacting references, ask questions like: How does the Realtor differ from others and how was their experience was working with her? Were they pleased with the work she did? Was she easy to get in touch with? Did she keep them well informed? Do they feel the Realtor sold their house for a great price and in a timely manner?
7. Will you be able to help me find professionals and services I need?
Your Realtor should be able to supply a referral list of other real estate professionals that you may need such as lenders, home inspectors, contractors, and title companies. Good working relationships with other real estate professionals make the selling process much easier for you.
8. How much time will you be able to spend working on selling my house?
Hire a Realtor who treats real estate as a full-time career instead of a part-time job. Part-time agents typically don’t have adequate time or connections to help sell your house in a timely manner and for the most money possible. A Realtor with too few clients could signal that they don’t have much experience or haven’t been well recommended by previous sellers. On the flip side, be careful of hiring a Realtor who is too busy. Effectively marketing your listing takes not only experience, but time and effort too. Working with a Realtor who is difficult to reach, constantly pushing the majority of work onto your lap, and doesn’t have time to give you personal attention could lead to a frustrating experience for you. No one wants to be treated like they are just a number, especially when it comes to selling one of life’s biggest investments.
9. May I Review Documents Beforehand That I Will Be Asked to Sign?
A good Realtor will have no problem making forms available for you to preview before you are ever required to sign them. She should also take the time to educate you on the forms and why they’re important. If possible, ask to review these documents upfront:
• Agency Disclosure
• Listing Agreement
• Seller Disclosures
10. How will you keep me updated throughout the listing process?
Have you heard of agents that just stick a sign in the yard and then are never heard from again? In most relationships, communication is key. You need to know, up front, how your Realtor will keep you in the loop. Ask for details about how accessible she will be for you, since you’ll have questions and concerns throughout the selling process. Find out whether she answers phone calls, texts, or emails in a timely fashion and verify this when you check her references. You need to be kept aware of feedback from showings, sales activity in your neighborhood, and changing market trends so you can make the right decisions for the sale of your house. You should know when other houses pop up for sale in your neighborhood, when they go under contract, and for how much. How will your Realtor make you aware of this information? Make sure you hire a Realtor who has a plan in place to make you an integral part of the listing process.
Remember, you are the customer, and you have the choice to take your business to anyone. Select a Realtor based on their sales statistics, work ethic, references, working relationships, and ability to work with your personality and requirements. If they are really good, they will interview you too. The agent’s questions should help them determine if they are confident that they can sell your house and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Not that you need reminding, but call me!