How Do You Avoid Choosing The Wrong Realtor For The Job Of Selling Your Home?

"He's Got The Whole World In His Hands"  Do you know the song?  It is kind of true except swap out the "The" for "Your" and its YOUR whole world that that agent you choose has in his hands for a short time.  

So you have decided to list your house, you have a list as long as your arm of all the houses you would like to go and see and a list even longer than your arm of all the things you need to do to get your house ready to sell.  
Have you given any thought yet as to who you are going to use to represent you?  Who are you going to entrust with the biggest financial investment process that you will probably go through?

If your answer to this is that you haven't really given it much thought yet, then you are definitely not alone but guess what, the person you choose to protect your interests in both the home you are selling and the one you are buying should be pretty high on the list of priorities and should really be the first thing you figure out.

So now this decision is at the top of your todo list, how do you go about interviewing agents? Do you just use your friend's mother's cousin because she's a local agent? Or do you use an old friend from high school or a best friend from University who now lives in a different City?  Do you use an agents whose snail mail marketing you received in your mailbox the other day or someone you actively see out and about on social media?  

You should interview at least 3 agents.  Do not use someone just because they know someone who knows someone and do not use someone because of a family connections or friendships.  It has to be the right agent, someone who sells real estate full time, who has experience and has been selling real estate successfuly for a number of years, someone who is local to the area and someone who you connect with.  In order to figure all this out, you have to meet with them first.

Ok so prepare your list of 3 agents you are going to meet with and if you are local to me (ie Burlington and the surrounding area) make sure I am definitely on your list.

So what questions should you ask?  Here are 10 suggested questions to arm yourself with:

  • How long have you been a real estate agent?
As much as enthusiasm and passion a new agent might bring to the table, when it is time for contract negotiation, it will be the (negotiation) experience of the agent which will bring the deal to a successful close!

  • How many real estate transactions did you close last year?
Whereas the abstract figure won’t necessarily tell you a lot, it does give you an idea of how active the real estate agent is.  But be sure to expand on the question and find out the ratio of houses the agent sells versus the (overpriced) properties that he still has on the books (which is called the sales-to-listing ratio) will be an important number to watch.  Enquire about how many of their listings sell for asking.  Just be aware that some agents will overflate a listing price just to secure the listing whether or not they think it will sell for that price, so do not be fooled.  An experienced, reputable local agent is less likely to do this so watch out.  If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. 
  • Is being a real estate agent your full-time job?
There is this misconception that being a real estate agent is such an easy job, one which lets you sleep in long, go home early and play golf every day.  I, for one gave up on golf when I started my real estate career - shockingly I don't have time anymore!!!!  To provide each and every client with a complete service, its more than a full time job.  So if the agent your are interviewing does the real estate thing in their spare time..... next!!!  They are not going to be able to serve you in a way that you deserve and a way you will expect just purely down to their time and availability constraints; real estate transactions are time sensitive.  
  • How often can we expect feedback from you?
How often and who will be providing the feedback? Is the agent working on his own, together with an assistant or is there an entire team behind the scene?  And more importantly, who will end up being the person you, as the home seller, will get all the feedback from? The listing agent? The buyer agent? Their assistant?

Its important for the home seller to get feedback on what the home buyers have been saying about their property during the viewings but also to keep the home seller in the loop regarding the whole process, home inspections etc.  
This is where a professional agent (and/or team) stands out from the crowd!  There is no such thing as too much feedback when it comes to this process!

  • How do you normally communicate with your clients?
Once you’ve established the frequency or timing of the feedback, you need to figure out which method of communication your agent uses.  Make sure to inform the real estate agent of your preferred method of communication!

  • Can you provide us with a recent list of client references?
Ask the agent for a list of recent client references, which is something he’ll more than likely have written out on a personal testimonial page on his website. Just be aware that he will have already filtered through the ‘less stellar’ reviews before publishing the reference information.

You could also request the details of the last few homes he sold and consequently contact those people yourself. It might take a little bit more time and effort, but the feedback you’ll get will be accurate. 

  • How did you determine the asking price of our home?
Its important to understand how the agent got to the price he is suggesting.  That way you can flush out that agent that just wants your listing and will quote whatever it takes.  Most agents should and will use the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which allows the agent to look at the recently sold properties in your neighbourhood, as well as the current properties for sale, all within a similar size, look and price range, in order to arrive at a fair market value!  As you interview a real estate agent, nothing stops you from asking him to show you some proof regarding the CMA’s conclusions!

  • Will you personally be taking pictures of our home?
If the answer is YES.... next!!!!!    You want your house to show at its very best and in order for that to happen, your agent needs to use a professional photographer.  End of!  

  • Which advertising tools will you be using to market our home?
Besides the traditional advertising tools, such as ads in newspapers, magazines, on bus benches, billboards, snail mail marketing etc., any decent real estate agents needs to have a strong online presence.  

Your property needs to get exposed to as many potential home buyers as possible and 90% of the home buyers start their home search online!

  • Do you provide any additional services?
Sometimes agents can offer you something different from the other agents!
    Any experienced agent will immediately suggest helping out with the presentation of your home: from the cleaning and decluttering, to some of the needed repairs to the house, to getting that garden up-to-date, with extra attention pruning the shrubs and trimming the lawn!

      This is where using a local agent helps as they will be able to recommend contractors, local handymen, lawyers, mortgage brokers, moving companies etc.  

      One final thing to remember, the better more experienced agents have your best interest at heart.  They are representing your best interest in respect to this whole process, from any recommendations about staging, to markting right up to including and even after closing.  A decent agent isn't just there for you for that one transaction but should be your go to for life!