Are you ready to place your home on the market? Do you understand the process and details of selling a home? Before you list your largest asst with an agent, take the time to educate yourself as to the many factors that will affect your profit. After all, the bottom line, when selling your home, is largely a business decision. Good information will help you arrive at the absolute best business decisions.
Most of us are not tuned to the trends, fluctuations and nuances of the real estate market. At the same time, we are not aware of all the necessary steps that can save time and money. Further, we aren’t interacting with other professionals and combining technologies with them to facilitate the flow of information needed. These are a few of the reasons that a vast majority of us turn to a real estate professional when we decide to sell our homes. But all real estate agents are not created equal. This report is intended to arm you with some of the more salient issues you need to be clear on BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.
Start by doing some research. Look for the most active agents in your community by asking neighbors, taking notice of yard signs for properties currently on the market, and even by looking at the local real estate publications (to see who is investing their money in their business ans how professional or unique the agent’s approach may be) Compile a list of candidates.
1. The Phone Interview. Place a call to each of the agents on your list. Take note on how quickly they respond as this may reflect how future prospective buyers of your home may be treated. History has shown that “people do business with people they like”.Your Realtor is someone you will be spending a lot of time with, check for personality style matches (“all business” vs “warm and fuzzy”, for example). Much of the work your agent does will be via the phone. Evaluating their phone skills is an important first step.
NOTE: Do not eliminate anyone based on price. Remember that you get what you pay for. Agents who “charge” more, often give and do much more which may get you more money in the end. Meet the agent, see if the extra money may actually save you money. (Ask yourself, “if an agent is quick to discount their own commission, which feeds their family, how likely are they to negotiate the best price for you, and your family”)
2. Request a Complete Plan. Should you elect to meet with an agent make sure they come prepared with a written marketing plan for your home and a list of services they can provide. You should ask the direct question, “Why should I choose YOU to sell my home?” If the agent cannot give you a compelling reason beyond price and promised service, then you need to keep on interviewing. Wait until you find an agent who delays answering the question until after they have found your individual needs, goals and desires. You shouldn’t care how much they know, until you know how much they care.
When marketing the sale of your home, agents often use a multi-pronged approach. They have many tools available to them - telemarketing, direct mail, advertising, MLS, the Internet, open houses for other agents, open houses for the public, call capture technology, and many more. Be clear on what you can expect.
3. Evaluate Their Team. Top agents often have an assistant to help manage the “day to day” parts of their business; but moreover, successful Realtors have formed strategic alliances with an attorney, a home inspector, and a loan officer. Top producers see their role as “quarterback” of the team - working together to provide the best and most complete service for their clients. These relationships often help hold deals together when problems arise. A good agent has a strong team.
4. A Detailed Report About Your Property. At the time of visiting your home, your agent should be prepared to tell you what the price you should expect for your home, as well as, how the value of your home could be enhanced by some changes. Whether it’s as simple as a coat of paint or even replacing the roof, you need an agent who is honest about what money you should invest in your home and what that investment could mean to you in an increase in price or a reduction in time to find a buyer. Further request a “net sheet” which will give you a true sense of what you can anticipate “putting in your pocket” (after commissions, transfer taxes, mortgage payoff, etc.)
5. Insist on a Pre-Approval. Insist that your agent promise to show your home only to prospective buyers who have been “pre-approved” by a lender. Do not waste your time negotiating with someone who is unable to get financing. Many agents will even insist on a conversation with the loan officer from their team and prospective buyers to insure that no one is wasting time. Also, get a look at the pre-approval; many are so conditional that they aren’t worth the paper they are written on.
6. How Comfortable Is Your Agent With Technology? Beyond using a website to market your home, your agent needs to be proficient in a number of areas – not the least of which are contact management software and e-mail. Contact management software enables the agent to keep organized, accurate, scheduled contact with everyone they are doing business with – buyers, sellers, other agents and team members. The day of writing on napkins is over, your agent should demonstrate professionalism. With regards to e-mail, a significant portion (some estimates say 65%) of adults now use e-mail regularly. There are more e-mails a day now than regular mail. Even if you are not a “cyber” person, chances are your prospective purchaser is. Agents today need to be bi-lingual, with their second language being e-mail.
We hope these tips have helped you reflect on some of the issues which merit consideration before you sign a listing agreement. If you have any questions about this, or anything else surrounding the home selling/buying process, please don’t hesitate to call us at 516-825-2000.