Not all Realtors are created equal. Yes, it seems that everyone is getting their license and hanging a magnet on their car, but not all agents are worthy of your business. While any real estate agent can handle both sides of the transaction it’s best to work with an agent that specializes in helping sellers specifically, there are agents out there who prefer to work with buyers, so make sure you’re asking the right questions. Sellers agents are proficient in listing and selling property and have the necessary experience and references to back it. This is not the time to use your cousins, best friends husband just because they need a listing…you want the RIGHT agent, and we’re here to help you decipher what’s important for you, the seller.
Here are some questions to ask your potential real estate agent:
#1. How will you come up with the asking price?
Without a doubt, if the Realtor isn’t familiar with the technology needed to do the job right, including online research, market trends and run up to the minute comps, they won’t be able to keep up with what the asking price should be. Yes, it’s vitally important that the agent knows the analog information like the neighborhood and have conversed with their colleagues who have sold in the area, and maybe they’ve sold a home in the neighborhood too, but if they aren’t connected to a brokerage who is willing to invest in the latest tools to get you the right asking price, it’s probably a clue to move on. The right Realtor and brokerage will show up to your appointment with a professional listing presentation and current data to back up the proposed price. Of course, the ball is always in your court with regards to asking price; it is your home after-all.
#2. How long does it take you to sell a property?
If the agent has only listed a couple properties a year and those listings are still on the market, this may not be the best agent for you. Typically, good Realtors that can sell properties within 30 to 60 days or so, can do that with several properties throughout the year are usually a good bet.
#3. How will you market my home?
Along the lines of using an agent who is up with the technological trends, you want to use an agent who uses cutting edge methods to get your home on the market and sold quickly. A listing in the MLS and a yard sign doesn’t get it done all by themselves anymore. Social Media and other digital marketing methods are how homebuyers find homes now. With 82% of homebuyers on average using their mobile phones to find their first or next home, you need a Realtor who has an in-house marketing team to get your home noticed. When interviewing potential Realtors, ask them how their brokerage ranks on the social media platforms or how visible their website is on Google, or if they have a marketing team who will be working on assets to get the message out. If they don’t know, or the answer is no, it’s a clue.
#4. How will you communicate with me on activity?
If you pick a real estate agent who listed your property and then completely drops off the face of the earth, it can be very difficult to communicate well when or if you get an offer. Ask how the real estate agent will communicate with you either by text, email, phone, in person or all of the above, and how often you’ll receive updates on inquiries, even if they don’t result in a showing. Maybe it’s time to see how to improve your home to get it noticed, or what your Realtor could do to market your property better.
#5 Showings and Offers
With any luck in this current hot market, once your home is on the market you will get numerous buyers touring your home. It’s usual and customary to leave the property while buyers and their Realtor browse your home so you’ll need to find convenient ‘outs’ if you’re home. Go to lunch or run an errand, or go for a drive if there are several showings lined up. Yes, you may want to answer certain questions they have but that’s what your listing agent and their buyers agent is for, it’s just awkward, so skedaddle during showings.
Realtors are expert mediators between buyer and seller and if you’ve hired the right sellers agent, they can answer any questions and frame up possible negotiations. It’s best to have your home in a show ready state within about 30 minutes. In our previous section 5 Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value, we talked about “lived-in is not showable”. This means you should pack up about half of the items in your home, store them neatly either in the garage or a storage space and be ready to show the home within 30 minutes of a phone call. This can be difficult with kids but is not impossible. Clean up messes as you go; pre-stage a basket to collect stuff and put away when those phone calls do come. You might even consider hiring a professional house cleaner while your home is on the market at least once a week to make sure the dusting is kept up with and showers always smell freshly done. Buyers appreciate that you’ve prepared for them.
When you do finally get an offer (or offers) , your listing agent will call you with the terms and price. You have the ultimate authority to accept, reject or negotiate the offer. The longer a home sits on the market the lower the offer might be. This is why it is so crucial to get the right listing price right out of the gate. If you bucked your agent’s advice and listed for more than the home is worth, you may run that risk. You’ll get the right buyers and the most profit by pricing it correctly from the beginning. Your listing agent will go over all of the terms of the offer and then it’s up to you whether you want to counter offer, reject or accept the offer.
Don’t get emotional or offended by a lowball offer; buyers are always hoping to get the best deal and often, it’s a starting point; they’re checking the negotiation waters. Counter offers and negotiations can go on for several days or even weeks, especially if were dealing with a bank or a short sale situation.
Try not to get exasperated but understand that this is a very large investment, and it can take time. Once both buyer and seller have mutually agreed upon the listing price and terms, the contract is now in place and buyers will have an inspection completed.
Try not to get too anxious during the inspections. The buyers simply want to verify the condition of their potential investment. This is also a negotiation time as buyers may come back with specifics on repairs or replacements. You may either agree, reject, or negotiate these requirements until mutual acceptance has happened on both sides again.
Once the inspection and appraisal contingencies are released, the process moves on to closing. Buyers need to finalize any financing issues remaining and this is a great time for you to finish packing up for your move. Your closing agent, which could be title, escrow or even your brokerage, will call you for final signing. Be sure to ask any questions to help you feel confident about what you are signing and understand everything involved. If something seems missing or incorrect be sure to question it.
Selling a home can be stressful with the myriad of details involved, but without keeping informed and understanding the process and your responsibility in all of it, it can be easier and as stress-free with the right Realtor at your side.
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