Selling your home is a monumental occasion. The increase or decrease in your asking price could be the difference of tens of thousands of pounds in – or out – of your pocket. And in a high stakes game like this, it’s essential to have someone on your side that is batting for you.
Go back a couple of decades, and realtors were poorly thought of by many people in the country. But it’s fair to say that since then, the industry has improved its image considerably. And the vast majority of people out there rely on real estate agents – and trust them. The trouble is, not all realtors are created equal, and choosing the wrong person or company to take care of your house sale could prove disastrous.
While many guides out there focus on ‘how to sell your home’ or something similar, few of them address the most important part of the sale – choosing and working with the right realtor. Well, today we’re going to change that, and reveal everything you needed to know about working with a real estate agent, but were too afraid to ask. Let’s take a look at our ultimate guide.
Before you choose any real estate agent or firm, make sure you understand what it is they actually do. Surprisingly few people go into the home sale process with this knowledge, and it puts them at a severe disadvantage. If you don’t know how the system works, you can’t possibly choose the best person for the job, right?
So, it is essential that you understand what to look for. No, you don’t need to be an expert – and if you were, you could quickly sell your home yourself – but you do need a rough idea of what to expect.
Forget about the myths
The first step in this process of getting to know the industry is making sure you aren’t blinded by the many myths that exist about realtors. First of all, it’s not true that the realtor makes more money when you sell the house at a higher price. Ultimately, a $10,000 difference in the sale means something like an extra $150 to the agent. The reality is they probably won’t be too bothered about it – especially if they have to work extra hard to get that ‘bonus.’
Another myth is about the commission. Many people believe that the less commission you pay, the more you will make on the house. But the reality is that there is a standard real estate agent, and then there is a real estate agent and top producer. Ultimately, if you pay a high commission to someone who has proved themselves on the market, the chances are your home will sell for way more than someone who offers a tiny commission – but also doesn’t know what they are doing. A high-quality realtor can sometimes net you an extra 25% more than a poor-quality, ‘just-started’ competitor or a discount broker.
Find the right person
OK, so now that’s out of the way, one thing should be clear already – the real estate agent you choose can have a significant impact on the value of your final home sale. It is possible to strike lucky and select the first name in the phone directory, but the truth is you need to do more than just call A.A. Aardvark Realtors. You have to get to work, correctly, do some checks, hold some interviews, and then compare and contrast your options.
Also, never just plump for the guy who says your home is valued at twice what you thought – they are just trying to get your business. Instead, ask around for referrals from family, friends, and colleagues. Find out why they made such a good impression, and listen out for the people that went above and beyond the standard responsibilities.
Thinking of using Google and searching online? Be careful. Just because a local realtor is the first name you see on your results, doesn’t mean they are the best agent – it just says they are good at SEO. No matter where you hear of, or find a potential agent, always make sure you are running checks and using due diligence, just as you would with any other important financial service.
Interviewing your agent
So, how can you spot a good agent from a bad one? And what questions should you ask them to get the best possible info? Interviewing a potential agent is an integral part of the process. Not only does it make sure you get the right guy/gal/firm, but it also makes them aware you know what you are doing. As for the questions, there are a few things you need to probe.
Start by asking them how long they have been in the business – and the area. There’s nothing wrong with a fresh new agent in your town, but the reality is that experience counts for a lot when it comes to exceeding your asking price. The next question is a biggie – you want to know the figures behind their average list-price-to-sales-price ratio. This will give you an instant view of whether they have the potential to boost your sale price by a significant amount or not.
Then, you need to discuss marketing. All agents and firms have access to a range of marketing tools, and some will be more aggressive with their campaigns, while others will be more discreet. Ultimately, it’s more down to what you feel comfortable with. Although aggressive marketing will undoubtedly bring more people through the door, it might also result in some timewasters and deal seekers – which may not suit your needs.
Finally, get some references. It can’t be stressed enough how vital references are. Make sure you ask if any of the references are related to the agent, too, and also ensure you can call the customers and speak to them., If an agent refuses to furnish you with the details, it’s best to run a mile. Excellent, trustworthy, and reputable agents will have long lists of happy customers and be confident enough to pass on their details.
Working with the agent
Once you have made your choice, there is still a lot of work to do on your behalf. And if you don’t make an effort, you won’t give the agent the tools they need to excel. First of all, always be respectful and show some common courtesy. If your agent asks you to a meeting, show up on time – they are busy people and want to do an excellent job for you. Tardiness is just going to result in the agent forming negative opinions, which could end up costing you a few thousand dollars when the time comes to sell.
Secondly, be prepared to feel a little like an animal at the zoo. Most agents will be reasonable about open houses and visits, but there may be times when they expect to pop by at the last minute with a possible buyer. Ultimately, you don’t know whether that possible buyer will be prepared to go above your list price or not – and it’s not worth the gamble of getting angry at a last-minute appointment.
Thirdly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s their job to make sure you have a full understanding of the process, and you have to remember that the agent gets deep into their role. Sometimes, just like any other job, you don’t realize that no one else understands things as well as you do. Ask question whenever you need to, and your agent will be happy to fill you in with the full details.
What to expect
OK, so what constitutes an A-Grade service when it comes to real estate agents? Well, they will give you an expert opinion on what they feel the house will sell for, based on local market trends and the condition of your home. They will also help you get a full inspection, to make sure that a buyer can’t trap you into lowering your asking price.
Real estate agents will also be able to know the most effective method of marketing your home. Most good realtors are members of buyer’s agent networks and can get your home in front of people you couldn’t possibly manage by leaving a post-it note on the noticeboard of your local grocery store.
Be ready to sell
Finally, if you aren’t ready to sell your home at the drop of a hat, why are you even using an agent? By the time you get in touch with a realtor, it’s action stations, and very much the final part of the house selling process. Sure, it still might take a few weeks – or even months – but unless you are prepared to go tomorrow, it’s best not to waste anyone’s time – or your money.
Ultimately, the better your real estate agent, the more likely you will be to get your asking price – or beat it. And when push comes to shove, it’s really the most critical part of the process. Why risk using an agent that you doubt can achieve your goals? Good luck!