You’re planning to sell your house in the near future so it’s time to consider hiring a listing agent. You should take this job seriously…the same as you would hiring an architect, builder, tutor for your child, or doctor for the family. Many times people simply go with a relative in the family, someone they met at an open house, or the agent of a friend, but since this is an important financial transaction where you could stand to make—or lose—a lot of money, you should put some serious thought and research into who you hire as your listing agent. Some sellers even set up multiple appointments with prospective real estate agents, in effect interviewing them for the job.
Here are 6 questions to ask your prospective listing agent:
- Look at their online reviews or ask for references. In the internet age, most real estate professionals should have online reviews of their work easily accessible. Places you can see these are the agent’s Google Business page, Facebook Page, personal website or real estate sites such as Zillow and Trulia. Read these client testimonials to see if the agent you are considering seems like a good fit for you. You may also ask for referrals from recent clients — and actually call these clients to find out more about your realtor and his or her style. Was he or she responsive and attentive to the seller’s needs and concerns? Did the entire process go smoothly? How long was their house on the market? What did they list their house for…and what did the house sell for? Were there any kinks…and how did the realtor handle them? Would the client use this realtor again? These answers will be extremely helpful in choosing your listing agent.
- Look at their current listings and ask about their sales record for the year. You want someone who is experienced and is knowledgeable, not only about the current marketplace but also about sales in your town.According to Kiplinger, you want someone who has at least one closing a month. And it’s best if most of those house were in your price range. You will also want to note if the homes they listed sold quickly or sat on the market. Longer “days on market” mean less money in a seller’s pocket. Don’t hire an agent who lists properties at high prices and watches them sit. You will also want to note what the list to sales price ratio for the agent’s listings is and how that compares to market average. If they lead their agency in sales for the year, this is another strong indication that they have plenty of experience and will most likely be successful for you. There’s no magic number of listings that they should currently be juggling. If they have one or none, this isn’t a bad thing — they’ll be able to devote most of their time to your listing. And if they have 10 listings, don’t worry that they won’t have time for you. Most people with a lot on their plate get a lot done. So if they have a sales record — and sales awards — to back up their listings, chances are they’re extremely efficient at handling that volume of listings and will do a good job for you.
- Ask if they’re more of a buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent and how many clients they’re currently working with? Yes, there is such a thing. Most people think that all realtors can buy and sell, which is true. But often an agent may specialize on either the buy side or the sell side. Someone who is a strong listing agent will have more experience on the “sell” side, just by virtue of the types of transactions that they’ve dealt with in their career. If a realtor currently has ten families that they’re working with on the buy side…and they’re taking these clients out often to tour houses, they may not have as much time to devote to your listing and any open houses that it may require. Ask your realtor which type of agent they are, and this information is another piece to the puzzle.
- Research how long the agent has been in the business. Have they been working in your neighborhood for a long time? Do they live in your neighborhood? Someone with a lot of experience who is very familiar with the market in your area will be the most knowledgeable in arriving at an asking price and navigating the entire sale. This type of agent will know other agents in town and can often find out what the current “buzz” is about your house among other agents and realty companies. They should also have relationships with other local professionals who can help you throughout the process: mortgage brokers, home inspectors, real estate attorneys, etc. This is not the time to trust your listing to a new agent or someone who just moved into town from California.
- Ask what they’d list your house for…and why. Some realtors price houses low and others are more aggressive in determining an asking price. It’s good to hear each realtor’s theory and strategy to see if they’re in sync with your thoughts and selling style. All realtors should bring comps from your neighborhood to arrive at an asking price, but it’s interesting to see how each individual realtor evaluates those comps. There’s no right number that your house should be listed at, so in this preliminary stage it’s important to gather as much information as you can and educate yourself on the market so that you’re ultimately comfortable with not only the real estate agent’s selling style but also the price at which they’re suggesting you list the house.
- Ask about the agent’s accessibility. Do they work full-time or part-time? Do they hand off their showings to associates? Will they be working with you every step of the way? You want someone to not only answer your phone calls, but also promptly answer the phone calls of other real estate agents so that no prospective buyer gets away.
Allison Ziefert is Maplewood, NJ based realtor and was the #1 individual real estate agent at Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct in Maplewood, NJ in 2015. A local market expert, Allison specializes Maplewood, NJ real estate and homes and South Orange, NJ real estate and homes as well as Millburn/Short Hills, NJ, West Orange, NJ and surrounding towns. Allison’s success as a Maplewood/S. Orange realtor is driven by earning great testimonials from sellers and buyers of homes her marketplace. You can read her testimonials at www.azhomesnj.com/testimonials