Ten things to do before listing a property with a Real Estate Agent
by James Miller
1. Ask around to find a good agent.
I read about a study where most people think of Real Estate Agents as all being pretty much the same. In reality nothing could be further from the truth. The skills and abilities of Agents vary wildly.
In order to quickly sort the chaff from the wheat, ignore the slick advertising and fancy signs. Talk to people who have had luck selling their house recently. Word of mouth is still the best way to locate good dentists, auto mechanics and Real Estate Agents.
2. Find out how they are ranked.
Real estate agents are ranked regularly by the dollar amount of sales they have been a part of. See if you can find out how they rank in comparison to other agents. It doesn’t cost any more commission to have the #1 ranked agent as it does to have #25, so you might as well go for the best.
3. Find out about your agent’s marketing plan.
The MLS is a given, but which newspapers will your property be advertised in and how often? Do they send out mailers or post cards? Do they have any Radio or television spots and is it possible for your property to be mentioned on one of those? All of these things cost the agent money and their goal is usually to spend the least amount possible to sell your property. I could get into why that thinking is really self limiting on their part, but the point of it is to get them to commit to what they will be doing for you up front, and in writing.
4. Does the agent have a “go to” person to fill in for them?
We all have emergencies from time to time, but you don’t want you property to get passed up on a showing because your agent had an emergency root canal. Most good agents do have some sort of agreement with the other agents in the office. Often times it is the Broker who fills in, but you will want to find out how plugged in these other agents really are as to what is going on with your agent’s portfolio of listings. It may be beneficial to establish rapport with another agent who is in the office, just in case you need to get through to somebody who can make things happen.
5. Find out if the Real Estate Agent you are considering has been involved in any lawsuits.
Litigation is commonplace today, with property managers being most sued profession. As Many Real Estate Agents do property management on the side, don’t be surprised if you see them listed on the court house records. While this may not affect their ability to market your home, it may taint their image in the eyes of the buyer. It is best to know their background and be comfortable with it.
6. Does your Prospective Listing Agent have an existing Buyers list?
All good Agents and brokers are in constant contact with their list of potential buyers and sellers. They should have at dozen people who they will call right away after they get your listing. A good buyers list is instrumental in creating an immediate sale.
7. Find out the Average Days on Market for their listings.
This is so you can get a feel for how long it will likely take to market your property. Their Days on Market should be at or below that of the local average.
8. Find out the average discount that the agents listings have sold for.
This number is usually inversely correlated to the days on market, as the deeper discount your give the quicker you should be able to sell. This is also just to get you prepared for what sellers may be coming in at and how your potential Listing Agent stacks up.
9. Ask what it will take to get out of the Listing Agreement.
They really cringe at this question, and there is a lot of back pedaling on this one. What it comes down to is that you want to be comfortable that you can do two things; first, get out of the agreement if you are unhappy wit the service, and second, get out of the agreement if you find a buyer yourself.
They will fight at each of these points and you will likely have to concede the second, but a good Agent will be comfortable in their ability to sell your property.
10. Ask if you can list your property for three months if you pay a 7% commission.
This may seem like we are paying more for less marketing time, but for a moment put yourself in place of the Real Estate Agent:
You get a new listing. The first few days are spent getting the listing in the MLS and into the papers. You may even call up the buyers that you know are looking and tell them about the property. The next couple weeks you field some calls on it that were generated by the advertising, and do a few showings, maybe even an open house. While there is some modest interest from tire kickers and looky-loos but nobody is biting. You get a call for a new listing and you are now excited about that one. You lose excitement over this now “old” listing, as you attention turns toward this new possibility.
After about a month of limited action on a listing their attention turns elsewhere. It’s just human nature and I’m sure I would be the same way. What we have to do is compensate for this by getting the listing for a shorter time and try to keep their attention by raising the amount of commission. The listing sheets that the other Realtors get contain information on how the commission is split. Everything else being the same you property with the higher commission stands out from the rest. I have even gone so far as to offer a $1000 bonus if the property is sold within the month. You can see how that can motivate Agents and have the added benefit of making your property stand out.