Selling a home is one of the most critical financial transactions you will ever make. Yet there are only two questions people commonly ask a Realtor when selling a home: What is your commission and how much can I get for my property? Unfortunately, these questions only provide a small glimpse into the experience someone will have with a particular agent. Instead, treat the first meeting like an interview and interview several agents before settling on one. Read on for seven of the most important questions to ask a Realtor® before signing a listing agreement.
Are you a Realtor full-time?
Real estate is an intense business requiring dedication and focus. Someone who “sells homes on the side” typically isn’t the best choice. Yes, I may get some flack on this, but I’ve been in this business for a long time and that’s my observation. Like anything, there are exceptions, but in most cases an agent who can’t support himself or herself as a Realtor isn’t going to be the best person to sell your home. I suggest hiring someone devoted to selling your home every day of the week.
How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood in the past two years?
Ideally, you’ll find a Realtor that has enough years of experience so that this question is not met with silence. It’s important that an agent is familiar with the local inventory, preferably in your price range. The greater Salt Lake City area includes a huge variety of neighborhoods, each with their unique characteristics. For example, the charming homes of Sugar House are often over a century old. The vintage vibe is a great selling point, but comes with special challenges too. A neighborhood expert could help you avoid surprises during your home sale, while an agent who generally lists modern homes may be caught “back on their heels.”
Ask for statistics and data to support the information provided. This may include the average sale to listing price ratio, days on the market, and number of houses sold. However, experts caution that these numbers can be adjusted to offer a skewed perspective of an agent’s background. For instance, in some areas, the number of days on the market can be adjusted by simply taking a house off the market temporarily and relisting it under a different MLS number or with a different agent. I suggest putting weight on their local reputation.
Do you have references or testimonials from past clients?
A savvy and experienced Realtor will have a collection of references and testimonials to share. In addition, make sure to check independent sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List for reviews of their service. Expect the occasional negative review (anyone doing an active business will have some), but they should be a rare exception.
How do you plan to market the property?
Since a house won’t sell without marketing, it is imperative to find out what marketing strategies an agent intends to employ. Take a look at the Realtor’s track record. Gauge how visible their listings are online. Given that the majority of home buyers search online for their next abode, having an online presence is critical. Ask to see photographs of previous listings, and use them to determine how your property will look to prospective buyers. Virtual tours are increasingly common, so finding an agent who combines this into her home-selling strategy is a plus.
How much do you think my property will sell for and why?
The last part of this question is even more important than the first. While you naturally want the highest sale price possible, a Realtor should be realistic in what is suggested. He or she should present you with data to support the numbers, including a list of comparable homes in the area and a chart outlining what your house offers in contrast to what other similar houses offer.
Inexperienced agents sometimes suggest an overly-high asking price to get the listing. However, an inflated asking price could get you less money in the end because your home will stagnate.
How often and in what format will you communicate with me?
Until your house sells, and even afterward for a while, you’ll spend a lot of time communicating with your agent. Choose someone who you don’t mind hearing from frequently. Determine what methods are most apt to be utilized, such as email, phone or text. Although a Realtor should be available to answer questions most of the time, many successful agents block out times for non-communication – ask when those times are. Most importantly, choose someone who approaches the task like she is part of the team.
What is included in the service?
Some agents provide the bare minimum, simply entering the home into the MLS, while asking clients to do much of the legwork. This may result in lower commission, but may not save you money in the long run. On the other hand, other Realtors may coordinate services with a professional photographer, schedule showings, offer staging advice, and even provide prelisting inspections to head off surprises.
Having the right professional to support your home sale cannot be understated. Whether you want someone who is a bulldog, willing to fight for every last penny, or someone more easy going that is apt to charm prospective buyers, finding the right fit for your needs is worth investing some time in prior to hiring.
If you have any questions about selling a home feel free to email or call me. I’m always happy to share tips and advice.