The job of marketing your home is just that – a job – and the process of hiring an agent to perform this job should be given the time and consideration you would allow when hiring an employee.
How to find a Realtor® with an ethical real estate company isn’t difficult. Landing your dream Realtor®, on the other hand, may be challenging. RealEstate.com has put together the handy checklist below to help you find the perfect agent for your situation.
The first step toward finding your ace Realtor® is to find some agents to interview. Then comes the agent interview. This is a good time to test the agents’ response times. Disregard any agent who takes longer than 24 hours to respond to your invitation to interview. If your waiting threshold is shorter – say, 12 hours – use that length of time as the test period.
The buyer’s agent interview process is slightly different than that of the listing agent. With both types of agents it’s important to get the names and phone numbers of at least three past clients and then call these clients to get a feel for what it is like working with the agent.
Interviewing the Buyer’s Agent
The most important quality to look for in a buyer’s agent is her availability. Agents who sell real estate part time and have another full-time job are typically not available as often as those who work in real estate full time.
You might also like to give preference to those agents who utilize mobile technology in their businesses. These agents are typically able to respond quicker to new listings than those who don’t use such technology.
Will you be required to sign a Buyer Agency Agreement? There isn’t anything wrong with signing an agreement, but ask the agent to wait until you get to know him or her and are sure that this is the agent for you.
The agent’s schedule is important as well. Part-time agents typically have another job, leaving them little time to show homes. Busy agents without teams may be equally as crunched for time to show you homes. If the busy agent is a member of a team, with other members who can respond quickly to your needs, give him or her a bonus point.
Finally, ask the agent about the other “team” he or she has amassed – sometimes referred to as a list of “preferred vendors.” Members might include a trusted lender, home inspector, Title Company, pest inspector, contractors (roofing, electrical, plumbing, etc.), cleaning company, stager, and moving company.
Tip: Don’t use the listing agent for the home you want to purchase. If you are purchasing a newly constructed home, don’t use the builder’s real estate agent. Having your own representation is crucial and it costs you nothing.
Choosing a Listing Agent
A listing agent’s number one job is marketing your home to as many buyers as possible, so pay close attention to how the agents market themselves. They do this with their listing presentation. First, however, they need to see your home
If you have a number of potential agents to interview, hold an open house and invite all of them to tour the home at the same time. Set the listing presentation appointments with each agent as he or she is leaving the home.
Ask each agent to bring the names and phone numbers of three past clients, MLS printouts of three of their current listings, a sample marketing plan and their statistics for the past year (total number of listings taken, listings sold and listings that expired or were withdrawn from the market). With these numbers you can calculate the agent’s list-to-sell ratio (divide the number of listings that sold by the total number of listings taken), which should be at least 90 percent.
What to Look for During the Listing Presentation
Pay close attention to the number and quality of photos and the property’s description. The ideal agent includes lots of clear photos and engaging text to describe the property. The presentation should appear professional, with personalized information, lots of clear photos and a suggested price for your home with an explanation of how the agent determined the price.
Tip: Aggressive agents will pressure you to sign the listing agreement during the presentation. Resist the pressure to sign right away by stating that you are interviewing more than one agent and won’t be making a decision until all the interviews are complete.
Checklist for Finding Realtors®
Ask everyone you know for the name of a Realtor® they trust, and make a list of at least three agents. Ideas of who to ask include:
- Family members
- Are there rips, tears or other damage to the screens?
- Do the doors open and close properly?
- Employees at businesses you frequent (dry cleaners, supermarket, gas station, etc.)
- Attend open houses at listings in your area to meet agents in person.
- If you are buying a home, consult the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents website for an agent in your area.
- Visit agent rating websites
Interview Questions: Buyer’s Agent
- Are you licensed to sell real estate in this state?
- What types of mobile technology do you utilize?
- How do you go about finding homes for your buyers?
- Will I be required to sign an agreement to use only your services?
- May I have the names and phone numbers of your last three clients?
- Are you a member of a team?
- Do you work full-time in real estate?
- Will you be able to accommodate my schedule?
- How many buyers have you helped over the past year?
- Do you have a list of preferred vendors?
- What is your preferred method of communicating with your clients?
- How long will I wait to receive a return phone call?
- How often do you check your e-mail?
- Do you respond to text messages?
Interview Questions: Listing Agent
- Will you be out of town at any time during the period my home is listed for sale?
- Are you considered a top producer at your brokerage?
- Are you licensed to list and sell real estate in this state?
- What percentage of your clients came to you via referral?
- What percentage of your business comes from repeat clients?
- How many homes have you listed over the past year?
- How many of these homes sold, how many were withdrawn from the market, and how many listings expired?
- What is the average time a home spends on the market in this area?
- What is the average time homes you list remain on the market?
- What is your list-price-to-sold-price ratio over the past year?
- Over the past year, how many of your listing clients reduced the price of their homes?
- How many homes have you listed in this neighborhood?
- How many photos will you take of my home for the Multiple Listing Service?
- How will you market my home?
- How much traffic does your website generate?
- How did you determine your suggested list price?
- Can you suggest ways I might increase my home’s value?
- How often will you communicate with me?
Specialized Properties: Questions for Listing/Buyer’s Agents
- What qualifies you to sell distressed property?
- How many short sales have you handled?
- Have you listed any short sales that failed to close? If so, why did the transaction fail?
- How many ranches/farms have you sold?
- How many luxury properties have you sold?
- Where do you advertise luxury listings?
- How many lake/beachfront properties have you sold?
- How many condominiums have you sold?
- How many mobile homes have you sold?
- How many newly-constructed home purchases have you handled?
Making the Decision
- Tested phone call response time
- Held agent open house
- Interviewed agents
- Spoke to past clients
- Determined schedule compatibility
- Reviewed MLS printouts
- Reviewed sample marketing plan
- Determined agent’s list-to-sold ratio
- Tested agent’s website to determine how it rates in search engine results
- Determined that the suggested list price is justified by nearby comparable properties