How to Find the Right Listing Agent to Sell your Home

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 18 February 2014 07:25

·         How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Please note that then number of years since an agent got his or her license is no guarantee of experience, but it is a good first question to ask.  I had a situation just today where a Buyer's Agent working with our company was deemed to be experienced due to her age, the fact that she had been in the business since 1993, and her "British" accent I think gave her far more credibility as an "expert" in whatever the field, but then you find out her license was inactive due to failure to renew it from 2001-2012 and it kind of put a different view on things. Her buyer, who is my seller in a different market, felt this agent was adept at the process, but I could tell that something was not connecting.  A lot had changed in the business over that decade she was inactive too by the way! Things like IDX, Buyer's Agency, Zillow, Trulia, and the world in itself changed a few times since 2001!  

·         Do you hold designations? Designations are rarely understood, studies show, by consumers.  The thing that you as a consumer need to know is that they generally require agents to take additional, specialized real estate training. More training is always a good thing.  Also, if they have been in the business for five years or longer do they hold a Broker's or Associate Broker's license? This too is a step that shows an agent has some desire for growth in their career!  Requirements to become a Broker require once again more training and more on the job experience. Anyone can become an ABR for example or an SFR, but to hold a Broker's license you need to have been around a few years!  

·         How many homes did you sell last year? Designations are great, but by asking this question, you’ll get a good idea of how much experience the agent has in getting deals to the closing table.  

·         Length of time to sell the average home? Any Realtors® you interview should have these facts on hand, and be able to present market statistics from MLS to provide a comparison. Basically they should know their market!

·         What percentage to initial list price of the homes sold were to final sale price? This is an interesting piece of information because it shows how adept the agent is at pricing homes correctly as well as negotiating offers.  Other factors also may be in play such as a change in seller motivation and need to sell that push cause a lower sales price to get it sold as well as other factors.

·         Do you work as a Team or Individually?  This is something that has been taught over recent years, but some agents believe in the benefits of a Team approach.  In this case who are you working with? Normally there is a lead agent who through experience and production has been able to build a Team around them of people normally less experienced, knowledgeable, and don’t or can’t do the Real Estate job on their own.  Not yet at least.  Nothing wrong with that, but in my experience, as a “Recovering Type A Personality,” I have seen how a good lead agent can ‘think’ they are delegating tasks to a licensed or unlicensed assistant or Team Member and that person think the ‘lead agent’ had the task and then things get dropped and missed!  This is why I like having my hands on the details because I myself have to answer to my Seller clients!  I had a listing appointment last night where she referenced some friends that listed with one of the larger Teams in our area. She noted that online it took them over a full week to get photos online and even then there were ‘too few’ and they were poorly taken.  No description online, rather poor.  If your lead agent is more of a Marketer for the Team, then he/she may not have the time to spend on each and every listing as an agent working Individually might have.  Just something to think about.

·         What types of specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home? What are the 3 P’s to real estate sales?  Not  Preparation, Price, Promotion, but Put a Sign out, Put in MLS, and Pray it sells!  That is not a marketing system!  Look for an agent who is aggressive and innovative in their approach to real estate sales, and knows how to market your property competitively on the Internet. Buyers today want information fast, so it’s important that your REALTOR® is responsive.  How to know if they are responsive? Look at their Zillow profile. To begin with, if they don’t have one then you need to keep looking! One of the key categories in reviews is responsiveness.  Easy way to find that out if they don’t have any reviews or you want to go beyond that is to see how quickly they contact you!  It is funny, but I had a lady in a listing appointment last night talk about how I was one of the “few local agents who texts” and she thought that was good for me and mind  blowing that the other agents she contacted did not!  What is funny is that she is not a 20 or 30 something, she is probably in her late 50’s yet she still appreciated quick responses and texting while in a meeting to let her know that I would be in touch meant a lot to her. Fast response let her know I was there and cared about her contact!

·         Who is representing who or whom?  Will that agent represent you the seller exclusively or will they represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction?  In my company we don’t practice dual agency. This means that we cannot represent both buyer and seller.  Something you need to know as company policies from company to company may vary.

·         Can the agent recommend service providers who can help with mortgage, home repairs, and inspections, etc..? Most REALTORS® should be great resources as you seek lenders, home inspectors, home improvement companies, and other home service providers. Sometimes I have buyers that will ask me for more than one home inspector, but normally they just ask me who my most trusted inspector happens to be and trust my lead.  On lending matters I have several trusted lenders who have earned my trust and my clients’ business over the years.

·         What type of support brokerage provide to you and to me? Having resources such as a local website that offers real time MLS listings and updates them every 15 minutes is pretty useful in a tight low inventoried market where new listings are selling quickly! For example I am working with a couple who are looking to buy right now in our market.  They commented that listings I was sending to them (from my site) were hitting their inbox as soon as they got listed where Zillow and Trulia were taking 2-3 days before those new listings hit those very popular sites!  Listings don’t start at Zillow, Trulia, and Yahoo Real estate. They start from the MLS so any site that provides local listings the moment they hit the market are going to help you obtain that home, and keep from losing it possibly to the next buyer, much more effectively. It is all about timing and information and knowing it sooner than the next buyer!

·         How will you keep me informed about the progress of my listing? How frequently? A contact from your listing agent at least weekly with market analysis on the listing and area competition every 18 days or so is in my opinion a must!  At least for my personal business. However I always encourage my clients to let me know if they would prefer updates twice a week or do you prefer not to be bothered unless there’s a showing? Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a text? These are things that can definitely make your relationship with your agent work more fluidly when you communicate your preferences.

·         Finally, look for Reviews, reviews, reviews. Today it is so easy to get reviews. If you are closing transactions then as an agent you should have reviews on multiple sites online.  Not from other agents, but from consumers. I like Zillow’s because truly there is nothing that I as an agent can do after it is posted!  The consumer reviews the agent and tells if their experience was good, bad, or indifferent.  There is no way that an agent can edit, modify, or delete a review. What is said is posted!  Unlike Trulia’s reviews and other sites, real estate professionals are not allowed to review agents.  This way it is only the consumer who reviews and not a peer in the business.  Makes sense.

It is my hope that this information will be invaluable to you as you seek out that right relationship!




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Hank Bailey

Hank was born and raised in Athens, GA. He moved to Oconee County in 1984 and has been a resident ever since! Hank started his career in 2005 so he's been on the roller coaster of both up and down markets. Throughout Hank's real estate career he has learned many lessons. He values doing a good job and doing it the right way. His motto is "hard work is not to be applauded, it's to be expected." As he tries to be a good student of his business, he watches trends in every angle of the real estate business, including having an eye to look for and identify the quality of construction on newly renovated flips to new homes.

Also being in front of the MLS or multiple listing service daily on three different MLS platforms (Georgia MLS, FMLS, and Athens MLS) he knows comps, keeps up with new listings, and knows the markets. Having experience for years as an Accredited Buyer's Representative he is adept to knowing what inspections are needed and the right inspector or contractor for the job! Finally, his most fun is negotiating with buyers and sellers. After almost 500 closed sales in his career, he has a lot of experience doing it! In 2010 Hank emerged as the #1 agent with Prudential Georgia Realty, Hoschton, GA. From that point on he has been the #1 agent in each office he has been apart of through 2017. He also is a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame, a lifetime achievement club Hank attained in just 3 years!

Hank's key attributes include his dedication to his clients, responsiveness, hard work ethic, and last but not least, his knowledge of how to market residential real estate. He has an unparalleled desire for every client he represents to be part of his extended family, and he has a true commitment to do anything to help them achieve their #housegoals !

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