Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

You’ve decided to sell your house.

You take your collection of business cards and flyers from real estate agents, fan them out in front of you, close your eyes and pick one.  Right?  Maybe you’ll get lucky, but this is really isn’t the best way to choose the person to handle what is likely to be your single largest financial investment.


What’s the best approach?

Get recommendations from friends, neighbors and family members who have already sold their homes.  Make a short list of agents and check out their websites.  You should find professional-looking photos of their listings with well-written descriptions.  Look at the kind of dwellings they sell.  If you list your modest bungalow with an agent who routinely sells mansions, don’t expect your house to be a big priority.  Select an agent within your market and you’ll be better served.  Next, look at their track record for the number of houses sold, and for the asking price achieved.  The closer an agent can get to asking price on a regular basis, the better.


Start meeting agents.  Let them know that you’re shopping for an agent and are at the interview stage.  One of the most important parts of your meeting should center on the listing price of your home.  This is based on the selling prices of comparable homes in your area, as well as the condition of your house.  If you already have an idea of the price you want, a look at the comparables will tell you if you’re being realistic.  If you’re too far out of the ballpark, your house will sit on the market too long and you could wind up needing to reduce the price later on.  So, don’t fall for the sweet-talking agent who agrees to list it too high.  Likewise, too low a price and you’ll sell fast, but you might not get the best return on your investment.  Some agents will list on the low side hoping for multiple offers, which can result in a higher sales price.  This works in some markets, but not all.  If you can’t see the justification for the agent’s list price, either too high or too low, give that agent a pass.

Discuss the agent’s plan to market your home.  It could include any number of options such as photos, flyers, newspaper ads, open houses and the Internet.  They should also have a large network of agents to market it to.  Make sure the agent knows your area.  They’re not just selling your house; they’re also selling the neighborhood.  A good agent will be honest and tell you what you need to do to prepare your house for visits.  Getting rid of clutter and making your house more presentable can lead to a faster sale.  Finally, can you get along with this person?  After all, with a major financial investment at stake, selling your home can be a pretty stressful experience.  It’s best to go down this road with someone you like!

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