Whether you’ve already sold a home or it’s your first rodeo, a knowledgeable real estate agent can provide vital assistance. But with so much choice – the National Association of Realtors has 1.5 million members and counting – it can be difficult to choose the best agent for your specific needs. Here’s everything you need to consider when looking for a real estate agent to sell your home.
Benefits of Hiring a Listing Agent
You don’t have to hire a real estate agent to sell your home. However, you are probably better off working with an agent for several reasons. The right agent can help you price your home appropriately, market it effectively, and increase your chances of winning top dollar on the deal. They can help you prepare your home for viewing before it goes on sale, and then help you sift through offers from potential buyers afterwards. Seller’s agents – also called listing agents because they handle the listing – also handle several other facets of the home selling process, including:
Do your research
Be sure to do your due diligence to find an agent that meets your needs and expectations.
You could spend hours online researching real estate agents in your area, but it might be a good idea to start by asking friends and family for recommendations.
You’re looking for agents who not only know the local market well, but also have experience with the type of home you’re selling. (You wouldn’t want to hire someone to sell your 4-bedroom home only to find out they specialize in condos!) A perfect fit agent will understand exactly what you’re selling, including comparisons of similar homes that have recently sold in the area.
You will also need someone with specific experience in, or at least near, your exact area. Take note of any “for sale” or “sold” signs in your neighborhood – real estate agents representing these listings might be worth contacting, especially if they have a track record of local success.
Real estate commissions
It might be tempting to simply choose the agent that charges the lowest commission fees. But that can backfire on a seller: agents put in a lot of work to earn those fees, and in return, the seller ideally gets the best possible price for their home. The amount you pay in commission will likely be far less than the amount you stand to lose if your agent doesn’t do their research, set the right asking price, or market the home effectively. In other words, you get what you pay for.
Interview multiple candidates
Don’t settle for an agent that just looks good on paper. Conduct several interviews and ask questions to help you make an informed decision. John Myers, a real estate agent with Myers & Myers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, recommends that you start by researching each agent’s type of experience in today’s market, including their recent sales volume.
“You do not want [just] hear that they’ve been in real estate for over 20 years,” says Myers. “Years of service don’t mean much. The real estate market is constantly changing and you want an agent who is active in the market and knows what is going on. The market is changing as we speak.
Also ask each agent how they would handle difficult situations with potential buyers. You want someone who knows what to do if something goes wrong to make sure the deal reaches the closing table. Communication is another important factor to consider. Does the agent have a preferred method of communication and does it match yours? How quickly do they respond to inquiries? If an agent has poor communication skills, the transaction is unlikely to go smoothly.
Ask for a few references from each agent and contact them to discuss their experiences. Be sure to ask about the services that were provided, the agent’s level of communication, and whether their methods were effective. You can also ask if the agent could have done anything to provide a better experience. If you want, you can even check the agent’s license status online.
Hire the best listing agent for you
The final step in the process is to hire the listing agent that best meets your needs. Before signing on the dotted line, read the entire agreement to make sure you understand the terms and timing. Also reiterate your expectations to confirm that you are both on the same page. Ultimately, the right agent for you is the one you click with and trust.