Home sellers, ask these questions before hiring a Realtor
Home sellers, ask these questions before hiring a Realtor. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of priority questions to ask Realtor candidates before hiring one? Absolutely. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don’t know what questions to ask.
For instance, if you only look at an agent’s production, does that tell you the story of the agent? Not really. An agent may have 50 listings in your community, and you may see his/her signs everywhere, and I can promise you if an agent has that many, he/she is selling homes. What that number doesn’t tell you is how many went into foreclosure, short sale or never sold. Some agents will take any, and all, listings no matter the condition of the property or the price required by the seller.
What you want to look for is quality. Does the agent really know the market? Does he get along with other agents? Can he negotiate? Does total sales really mean an agents is the best? An agent may sell 25% less, or even 50% less than the top producer’s number of sales, but his/her clients received 98% of the desired final sale price. Where as, a top producer may only deliver 88% – 92% of the desired sale price. Which one would you want working for you?
Sample questions, home sellers should be asking
- How long have you been in the business and how many companies have you worked for? This is important because an agent who has been in the business for 10 years and has worked for 10 companies needs to explain the company hopping. Is there something in his/her personality that makes him/her difficult to work with? Every company can’t be a terrible place to work. Every agent has to be able to work with other agents, lenders, home inspectors and closing companies to get a sale done.
- Do you prefer working with buyers or seller, and are you comfortable working with both? This is important because some agents do better on one side of the fence or the other. My ratio is about 60/40. I work with more buyers than sellers, but I’ve had great success with sellers too. It just happens that more buyers call than sellers. In some cases, an agent prefers working with sellers. Or, an agent only works with buyers. I recently had a house under contract with a great couple who needed to sell their home in another community. We had originally talked about Cornerstone handling both ends and I was happy and confident that would could do so successfully, but in a last-minute change of mind, my buyers decided to list with an agent in their community that boasted she only sells in their community. That was enough to convince them that she was a superstar who knew how to get things done. She didn’t. Their deal with me fell through because their listing agent didn’t get their house sold. Actually, it was hardly ever viewed, and they lost the funds they had spent on a home inspection, plus they tied up a seller’s house for 45 days. When it was all over they realized that their listing agent didn’t represent them well at all.
- How many homes did you sell last year? Now, this can be deceiving. An agent who works on a team may be the team leader taking credit for every sale. He/she may have sold 10, but he/she takes credit for 50. Or, an agent may have a threshold price-range that he/she will not go below. An agent doesn’t need to sell a lot of $500,000 homes to have a nice income. So, he/she may choose to only sell a dozen in a year. On the other hand, an agent may sell a lot of $75000 homes. It takes a lot of those homes to make a good living. The real number of homes isn’t really that important, but I put that question in this list because you want to make sure the agent is selling something. If the agent said 2, or zero, you may have picked the wrong agent. That isn’t always the case, but if you need to sell, and you if you want to stay as close to your list price as possible, 2 may be a sign of inexperience, and you may need a more experienced agent.
- Have you had any clients go into foreclosure, have a short sale or not sell while you had their home listed? If the answer is yes, and if it is more than one, you may have an agent who will take any and every listing just to get a sign in the yard. Hundreds of signs give the impression that the agent smiling on the sign is highly desirable. The signs tell the story. Not always. I see some of these listings end up in foreclosure and short sales. If an agent is willing to take any listing at any price just to plant a sign, the odds are not in your favor that he/she is going to care about your sale. This is not a negative for these agents, it’s a business technique they find useful, but is it the best technique for you?
- Home sellers, are you comfortable communicating with me the way I choose? With the wonderful electronic devises we have today, communication should never be a problem. The only problem is the want to. Some of my clients want communication even if nothing is happening. Some, don’t want me to contact them unless something is happening. It is different client by client. With modern technology, there is no reason for a seller to feel like he/she is in the dark. A quick text, email or call only takes a minute.
- What method do you use to market property? In my market, the local paper and the Homes guide only make up 1-2% of sales annually. Why would an agent waste money on something that performs that poorly? What other methods could work? The Internet is a fantastic tool for marketing real estate. Estimates show that 89% of buyers find the home they want on the Internet before contacting an agent. What works best in your market?
Home sellers, the list could go on and on, but you get the idea. Picking a solid listing agent may be more than how many homes he/she sells. There are other factors that should come to play. I had a potential client recently send me a questionnaire before deciding on who he wanted to hire. Unfortunately, many of his questions really didn’t tell him anything about the agent he would choose. He had the right idea, but his efforts followed a traditional path and not a path to an effective decision. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent candidates tough questions. After all, it is your future you’re protecting, not theirs.