I don’t really know what I should get or expect from a listing agent? This is a common question asked by many sellers trying to navigate through the sea of potential realtors. I would consider truth, honesty, marketing technique, communication, service and price the major factors which separate a good listing agent and just a listing agent. I would interview 2-3 agents. But you should know what to ask. Just like Penn and Teller like to reveal magician secrets, here are a list of questions you can ask and things you should consider when you interview potential realtors to sell your homes.
Does your brokerage charge administrative costs or transaction fees to the selling broker or deduct from their commission?
It has become common practice among the bigger brokerages that transaction or administrative fees charged by the brokerage are passed on to the selling agent, reducing their commission. While a selling agent should not skip or downplay your home to a potential buyer because they are getting less commission or reductions in commission, let’s be frank – it happens. But the bigger question is, does this affect your homes marketability to other agents. If commission is a factor, it may. Why should the buyer’s agent pay for this fee when it does nothing for them and why should the seller and their home be penalized by this?
What changes should I make to the home? Repairs, updates, clutter clearing, etc. all translate into a faster sale or more price to you. It is a numbers game. No one wants to do anything to a house they are selling or put any money in. It may or may not be necessary. BUT don’t penalize the broker who comes in and tells you the truth and gives you good advice about your home. Whether you do it or not is up to you. Think of it this way…Put yourself in the buyers shoes. Would you want changes, upgrades?
What are the selling costs? Brokers can give you a round number and idea to get you in the ballpark, but they are estimates. Title companies charge fees, attorneys, those are unknown to brokers. But this is important to let you know what you need to know to list the home and come up with the bottom line you want. Again, don’t make this a standard for the broker. “This one said our costs will be less….” Is this one telling you the truth?
What do you think I can sell for? Any broker should be able to tell you what the comparable market is and to back up what they say with statistics. The MLS can show what recent comparable homes were and what you can expect. Homes with loans must appraise out to close. Your house is only worth as much as the comparable homes sold in the last 6 months, regardless of what anyone thinks. Ask to see the numbers to ensure you are getting the truth. Then you can make your decision.
Does it matter if they are with a franchise or a big brokerage? Well, the answer to that is, what can they do for you because they are with a big brokerage? Does it matter to the buyer who sells your home? If you were a buyer, would it matter to you whose sign is in the front yard? Most buyers care about price and the home, not labels.
How are you going to get buyers? The internet is the best marketing tool for homes for sale. But there are varieties in how they are marketed. A potential listing agent should be able to tell you how they will market it and attract buyers – not just “on the internet”.
Accountability/Communication – How often do you talk to your clients? Do you provide any feedback and reporting on your efforts? A broker should communicate at least one-two times per week and should be accountable to you on what they are doing to sell your home. Are you talking to them or to an assistant? However, you need to be fair. Some buyer’s brokers do give feedback after showings and some do not. Feedback is important to tell you what buyer’s think, but no offer commonly means they either were not interested or liked another home more.
What will you charge? There is no set rate for what to pay a listing agent. What you pay a buyer’s agent can affect your ability to get showings. A broker can give you recommendations on what to pay the buyer’s broker and can tell you what they and their brokerage will charge you to sell. What you pay out will affect your bottom line. They should be able to explain their fees to you. Remember, each agent or brokerage can charge what they want, but, by law, there is no industry standard for what to pay the listing agent.
But beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. One of the biggest mistakes I hear from sellers after the fact is that their agent said all the right things, which means things they wanted to hear, when they listed it and then… as soon as a month or so went by and no contracts, it was all about….price reductions and making changes to the home. And often the seller says why didn’t they tell me that to begin with. One reason….if they told you the truth, you would have listed with some one else who told you what you wanted to hear.
Don’t waste time on someone who does not tell you the truth from the beginning. You do not want a yes man or woman to sell you at the beginning and then switch later. The measure of a good agent is what they will do for you, how they will treat you and potential buyers and their agents, and their qualify of truth and honesty.
As brokers and Realtors, the market tells us, we don’t tell the market. The best we can do is market the homes, give could service and charge a fair price. Any thing other than that is hocus pocus, now you see it, now you don’t.