Top 10 Questions You Should Ask BEFORE You List With a Real Estate Agent
Selling your home is likely one of the largest sales of your life. To add to that there is a lot to do to prepare your home for the sale. The overall stress of packing, moving, and going somewhere new. Having the right agent who can help guide you through the sales process, and at the same time get you the most amount of money for your home, is invaluable.
I recommend interviewing 3 agents and ask for home value opinions from them to get an average feel for your home’s value.
Here are the top 10 things you should ask the agents you interview to list your home.
How many homes have you sold?
Now granted, everyone has to start somewhere, but having an agent who has some past sales experience under their belt is invaluable. They will be able to help you during the negotiation process and when problems arise (which they always do), they will be able to help navigate more smoothly through them.
Is this your full-time job?
Recently many new agents have decided to break into the Real Estate business. Starting off part-time while they continue their other jobs hoping to make it. When you are working with an agent who has another job, it’s sometimes difficult for not only you, but other agents to get in touch with them. What about that buyer sitting in front of your home wanting information and they can’t reach your agent? They will likely just drive to the next home and call someone else.
How will you market my home?
This is an important question. Everyone can put it in the MLS, put a sign in the yard and wait for a buyer to come by. You need an agent who is going to do more. Are they premium agents on Realtor.com, Zillow.com and Homes.com? Will they hire a professional photographer (this is a MUST for any listing)? What’s their social media following? Do they do professional brochures and printing? Will they do open houses?
Will they help you prepare your home for sale?
I offer a free staging consultation for all my listings. Having your home in the best showing condition, de-cluttered, cleaned, and landscaped will get you top dollar for your home. This should always be done before the photographer comes.
Do you work as part of a team or on your own?
Working as a team has many benefits. My team, for example, are all there to answer the phone when we get call-ins on our listings. There will always be a live person to give the information about your home to potential buyers and agents. You may ask the listing agent in the interview, who is answering your sign calls while you are in this meeting with me? Individual agents can do a great job too, as long as they have a support staff working beside them, that could be their office if they are a new agent.
What do you think my home is worth and why?
Don’t just choose the agent that tells you the highest value. This is a common mistake on both ends. Many agents will sell you on the idea that your home is worth more than it is, only to have you disappointed months down the road when they are begging you for price reductions.
Ask for the most recent comps from the past 120 days, homes within 20% variance in square footage at most, with similar upgrades and features of your home. You will need at least 3 active and 3 sold comparable properties and get an average sold price per sq. ft. Use that number to help you establish a value for your home. That is what appraisers are going to do.
If you have a unique property or selling feature, ask for information about that particular feature and its value in the area. For example, do you have a pool? Is that considered a positive selling feature in your area, or will it be a negative?
How much do you charge?
This amount can vary from market to market. The commission that you offer to the buyer’s agent is a part of your marketing strategy. Say for example the listing agent is asking for a 6% commission. Make sure that they are paying the full 3% to the buyer’s agent to be competitive. As much as we would like to think that an agent wouldn’t detour a buyer from a home because the commission is lower, that is not the case. Some people even offer a bonus to buyer’s agents to receive a contract in a certain time frame.
Do you work with any lenders or a network of providers?
Sometimes lenders will offer an incentive to the buyers to use them as a “preferred lender”. (this may vary from state to state). Lenders can sometimes offer a discount on closing costs to help give buyers an incentive and not cost the seller anything.
What is the average days on market for sold listings in my area?
Establish upfront what the expected time frame to sell is. If you want to sell quicker than the average days on market (DOM) in your area, then you need to be the best price, best looking home on the block. Make sure that you and your listing agent are on the same page as to your time frame to sell.
How long is your listing agreement term?
Depending on the average DOM in your sales area, you will want to contract with a listing agent for a realistic time frame. Telling the agent they have 30 days to sell your home, in most areas, won’t be a realistic type of agreement. However, avoid giving the listing agent a year to sell your home when the average DOM is only 30 days. You will be stuck with someone if they end up not upholding their end of the deal.
There are a lot of things to consider when selling your home. All things being equal, choose an agent whom you connect with. Someone that you feel comfortable with who will help guide you through the sales process.