Today's real estate market is extremely competitive. Not only is it competitive between real estate agents looking to attract clients, it is also competitive between property owners trying to get top dollar for their investments. Hiring the right agent will make a big difference in the bank and the amount of stress the entire process can cause.
The facts are some agents sell more properties at higher prices and for more favorable terms than others. Local real estate boards would have you believe that all agents and brokerages are created equal yet nothing is further from the truth.
Top 10 questions you should ask a Realtor® before listing your home
1. What is your track record in sales, how do you measure success?
Agents are either shy to share their lack of experience or overly boastful of how busy they are. You need to learn the type of houses they've sold.
- How do they define success? Their answers will help you understand how the agent thinks and works.
- Look for an agent who is busy yet patient, urgent yet has time for you and certainly, look for someone who knows your area and has experience
2. "if someone you know, or you (the agent) are interested in purchasing my property, how does this change our relationship"
Real Estate agents in BC are licensed as Fiduciaries. This means, your agent owes you an oath of 100% loyalty. You may be hiring them to represent you and a buyer in a transaction but under the law of Agency, your Realtor® must act for your benefit (above their own) and maintain 100% loyalty to you unless otherwise disclosed. Many agents struggle with this concept but it's important for you to understand who is representing your interests!
3. "What is your work history of experience? How are you qualified to represent me?
An agent with years of experience may or may not be the best choice for you. Many new real estate agents have left other fields to join real estate and bring a depth of knowledge and experience. Just like an employer needs to see a prospects resume, so should a home seller. After all, agents with solid negotiation, marketing and follow up skills will make a difference for you when the negotiations begin.
4. How will you market and promote my property?
Today, a simple MLS® listing is NOT the gold standard. Many agents simply load your property into the MLS® system and hope for the best. You want to work with an agent who has a comprehensive plan; a written plan that covers a reasonable number of marketing avenues to ensure that buyers in your area have access to your property.
How will the agent help you to prepare the home for sale? Does the agent offer third party support from a stager? We often see the offer "full MLS® service" but there is not such a thing. Each and every agent has their own plan and all are slightly different.
5. "Who will be taking photos? and will they be HD?"
Today, even for lower priced listings, professional photography is a must. Beware of agents who post your listing with only one, two or less than 20 photos. Poor photography and not enough photos will cause numerous problems with the promotion of your home.
Many sellers are surprised to learn their home is marketed on MLS® with one photo. Agents use this ploy to trick the public into calling them so they can "double end" the deal. It amounts to bait and switch style of service for the seller.
For sellers, a one photo listing creates nuisance calls and turns many potential buyers off (thinking there is something wrong with the house) or worse, these buyers book showings only to turn away at the door as the house doesn't meet their needs.
Todays real estate marketing is about "more information" not less!
6. "Do you have a written listing plan?"
Many agents wing it! Ask for their plan in writing. If they cannot produce something in writing, perhaps you should interview more agents. Not every listing sells and 2 or 3 months later you and the agent will need to sit down and discuss the situation. Agents can make mistakes, and having a written plan and a system tends to create less mistakes.
7. "What is your work schedule? Do you work full time?"
Ok, my broker (manager) and the real estate board hate this question but the facts are, part-time agents may not be ready to meet the demands of a busy market and/or worse, will not be rested, focused and on top of your needs. Real estate is an "on demand" business and buyers present offers at any time. Sellers need to be ready. Certainly, patience during negotiations is important but negotiations can take minutes or even days. Full time agents give their clients a serious advantage.
8. "What type of feedback and follow up system do you have?"
Not every house sells in the first week. Showing feedback is important to help make decisions regarding your listing. Confident agents will have a well thought out follow up plan to show you how they will work to help you succeed in the current market place.
9. "How do you handle inquiries about my property?"
Inquiries about your listing will come from three main sources:
- The public at large - Primarily from text messages, email and telephone calls
- Your agents past clients and database- (see my earlier note about agency)
- Clients of other agents in the area
All three of these groups demand quick response to their questions. What type of system does the Realtor® have for booking showings, answering the telephone and responding to inquiries. Consider your agents reputation, how do other local agents view him or her? Agents do not need to show properties of agents who are disagreeable or who are known to be difficult to work with. Your agents reputation becomes your own!
10. "What is your negotiation style?"
Many sellers are surprised to learn the negotiation style of their agent during the actual negotiation. Good or bad, at this time it's too late! How you negotiate is the single most important factor in determining the sale price of your property and if it will sell at all. Are some agents better than other at putting a deal together? Yes!
What style is best? This is up for negotiation! However a cooperative, positive yet firm style can get great results. What is important is that you feel the agent was competent at displaying and supporting the value and price of your home (and that the home was promoted and marketed at its best).
Understanding and "selling" high price items successfully, requires a specific mind set. Ask your agent how they purchase expensive items. Their answer will tell you how they view the world.
I purposely left out the topic of commission to "ask your Realtor®". Commissions are paid on contingency. Contingency in this context means a promise to pay a percentage of the price, after the sale price is accepted by the seller and the buyer. "Accepted" is an important concept. Sellers offer a commission to attract the top local agents (who work with the most qualified buyers) and to compensate the seller's agent for their work to list and negotiate. Attracting the best talent will pay off in a higher price.
Low commission brokerages will often advertise savings in commission but these claims are moot. "how long is a rope" is the same argument. If you have asked the questions as noted above and the answers impress you, you will sell for the highest price in a reasonable amount of time.
You will be happy to pay a fair commission when you've received solid professional service.
If you are Buying or Selling a home in the Okanagan, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for our comprehensive buyer and seller plan to ensure your real estate success!