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Selecting the right realtor can be intimidating, but it’s crucial for the best homebuying experience

So, how do you pick the best realtor?

Hiring a realtor should not be done by driving through the neighborhood and picking a name from a “For Sale” sign.  You should have questions to ask and have an idea ahead of time what answers you are looking for them to provide. Since you will be paying the realtor you hire a portion of the proceeds from the sale of your home, you need to make sure that you are in agreement on how this process will be approached. This is often a very emotional and stressful time for you and trust can begin to be established as your questions are answered. This may help to avoid problems for both you and the realtor you hire should problems arise with the sale, which they often do. Finding someone you feel confident to handle situations that may arise is an important aspect of the interview.

First, if you have a realtor you have worked with previously and were happy by all means talk to them again. I would still recommend a face to face meeting to establish if any circumstances have changed. Often realtors will change offices which may affect the way business is handled. Please do not assume everything is the same only to learn later that things have changed.

There are so many great realtors that will work very hard to sell your home for the most money and in the shortest amount of time. They want you to succeed because that is how they earn their living and they love great referrals.

What if a friend has recommended someone to you?  I would still review the questions below; your expectations may not be the same as your friend or neighbor.

If you do not have a realtor, you need to interview at least three.  I know you are saying “THREE? I don’t have the time,” but remember, you are selling what is probably your biggest asset. You are the client and the sale of your home is the realtor’s paycheck. You will be paying thousands of dollars for this service and you need to be comfortable with your choice.

Keep in mind these are just considerations, food for thought on questions that may impact your decision on who you will hire.

Important Questions to Ask Your Realtor

(Click to learn about how to evaluate each answer!)

How long have you been a realtor?

The answer to this question is not deal breaker but should play a part in the overall choice of a realtor.

Let’s talk first about Newer agents:

  • a new agent will most likely bring a fresh enthusiasm for selling your home and we need to remember that every agent had to begin somewhere
  • newer agents usually work closely with a more experienced agent within an office
  • a younger agent may bring fresh ideas for marketing often times using social media or the internet, which is second nature to a younger agent

Now looking at the more experienced agent:

  • they may have had more experiences dealing with different situations that arise and they might have a better feel for selling your style of home or even experience selling other homes in your neighborhood
  • internet may not be second nature but they also may have invaluable experience with marketing in other areas. You do need to ask all Realtors interviewed how they utilize social media because 75% of home buyers begin their search online.

Are you a full time agent?

With the recent downturn in real estate many realtors have taken other jobs and continue to sell real estate part time. Although you empathize with them you also need to consider that you are paying them full commission for part time availability.

  • how will their focus remain on selling your home?
  • a part time realtor will have restrictions to their hours and may not be available for last minute showings or even to answer questions about your home. Will they be available during the day for showings or on the weekends for open houses?
  • do they work with a partner? If they work in tandem with someone you will want to meet and interview their partner as well, since they will also be an integral part of the team you are creating to sell your home.

Do you have an independent website and an office website?

  • with more than 75% of all buyers now beginning their search for a home online you need a strong presence on the internet.
  • many agents have a personal website as well as a presence on the company websites – check out all of the sites to verify the information you are receiving and Google their name as well.

Do you have a list of client references from recent transactions?

If you receive a list of names make sure you call a couple and ask:

  • were you happy with the agent?
  • would you have this agent list your home again?
  • was the agent available for open houses (busy agents may have newer realtors sit in for open houses)
  • how did they respond to concerns or problems that arose?
  • would you have them list your next home?

How do you plan to market my home?

The answer needs to be multi level approach and should include:

MLS listing, internet, social media, broker’s tours, open houses, brochures, or mailers.

If the answer is only one form of marketing realize that the only exposure will be to one audience when you need to reach a variety of people through all different methods of marketing

How many listings do you have right now?

There is no perfect answer to this question because the variable will be the market at the time your home is listed.  If there are many homes on the market they may have a good number of listings, if the market for sellers is tight they may not have many. Just use their answer as a guide. Look for red flags such as:

*If the agent you are interviewing has a large amount of listings there may not be enough focus on your home and


*too few listings means no business -this is just something you need to take into account when interviewing agents.

What is your commission rate?

Standard commission changes and the amount are negotiable.

I have found this to be a tricky situation however because reducing commission reduces incentive to sell your home when other homes will be paying full commission.

My suggestion would be talking to the agent about a reduction in the rate if the house sells quickly. The longer your home is on the market the more time the agent spends in addition to rising costs for marketing. So this may be an area that they are willing to work with you.

You need to make sure however that the arrangement is agreeable and fair to both parties and the timeline for the reduced rate is in writing.

What is your shortest listing term?

The most advantageous answer is 90 days.

But that is not the normal length of the contract. A reasonable term is 120 to 180 days. Make sure to note on the contract that you the seller can cancel the listing after the number of days agreed upon without reason or cost. This keeps the agent on their toes to get your home sold.

What do you think my house is worth?

Is bad phrasing – what your house is worth will be based solely upon comparables of homes; most likely in your neighborhood.

A Better way to phrase it may be what can I get for my house?

There is a difference. You do not want your asking price to be based solely upon comparables. A comparable is simply a comparison of what homes in your neighborhood with similar features, size and amenities have sold for, or are currently listed at.

You will want the individual factors to be taken into account when determining what you can get for your house. This is where a more experienced agent may be a valuable asset. Based on their experience they may be able to recommend a sales price based upon a number of features and benefits of your home and allow the price to be more specific to your home and circumstances.

Be cautious of an agent who will throw a high price to get you to sign the contract.  Most agents will give you a ballpark price and add that they can’t really give you a recommended asking price until they have looked at the above factors.

This is the answer I would be most comfortable with. An honest answer.

Do you work with stagers?

I will admit up front that I am very biased about Realtors that recommend knowledgeable preparation of your home.  As an expert in the area of the effect the environment has on humans I have seen the tide turn from a legion of Realtors that were non believers to those that truly understand the value it provides.

Most of the top realtors in the field now recommend some form of focused preparation to their clients. They understand the importance of having a home ready for buyers to fall in love with.

Knowing what needs to be done benefits everyone. Realtors want what you want; a beautiful product that looks and feels amazing and is ready for buyers to purchase for the most money and as quickly as possible.

It is a very important part of the process of selling your home. They also know from working with professional stagers that it is so much more than just cleaning and touch up repairs.

Most importantly for me it speaks to the professionalism of person you want to have helping you sell your home. A knowledgeable realtor wants to explore every opportunity that may lead to the sale of your home and great realtors are always learning and studying new advances, continually gaining knowledge. This is who I would want on my team.

Successful realtors understand that among the most important components to the successful sale is your home being priced correctly, their knowledge and expertise coupled with the knowledge that I can provide for you with my program will allow you to have the best opportunity for success.