Agent selection checklist:
When Realtors do a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis), their presentation will be composed of their marketing plan, recommended price, expected selling price plus their commission rate.
During the CMA, make sure the agents provide you with:
- Their ideas for cosmetic changes and improvements to your home.
- A net sheet (list) of your expected selling costs, including the local customs for dividing closing expenses between you and the buyers.
- Current and projected local market conditions, with supporting reasons.
- Recommendations for good home inspectors and ones to avoid.
- Recommendations for real estate attorneys, title and escrow companies.
- An estimate of how much earnest money typically accompanies an offer for a home like yours.
- A blank listing agreement, sales contract and seller disclosure forms.
Stay away from rookies:
They're just learning. Knowledge is gained from the experiences and involvement in a lot of transactions, not from any schooling. You're kidding yourself if you think that hiring a new "go getter" is a smart decision. When asked, inexperienced agents won’t have the confidence to give you a discount either. They're afraid the manager would rip them a new armpit.
Avoid highly successful agents too. Top producing Realtors may not give your listing the time you may need. Seriously, they just don’t have the time. Hot shot agents, with signs and advertising you see everywhere, make their money from large sales volume and often use a host of assistants. The more successful they are, the greater are your chances for working with one of their helper assistants.
Look for these characteristics:
Books and articles on selecting an agent often advise homeowners to ask for references plus information pertaining to the number of homes the agent sold last year, their percent of selling price to list price, percent of listings sold, average selling time of their listings, etc. These all sound good but are all subject to agent puffing, bending the truth, distortions of the facts, etc.They'd make politicans look downright honest.
References? Who ever gives a bad reference? Besides, the sellers moved out of town. Number of homes sold last year? What are you going to do, ask a different agent to verify the number of solds by his competitor? Sales price to list price? Was the list price the original list price or are any of the price drops counted? Percent of listing sold? When a list is given to you, did it exclude condo sales or include homes sold from an adjacent area? Average selling time? Did the agent relist properties in order to hide the real selling time? The statistics are prone to be bent - without the agent even trying.
You want an agent that belongs to the NAR (the National Association of Realtors) and one that's a member of the local MLS. But nitty-gritty selection should be based on personal characteristics, like:
- Their speed in which they return your phone calls.
- Their ability to handle questions during the CMA.
- Their level of experience (about three to 10 years is ideal).
- Their willingness to easily allow you to cancel the listing agreement.
- Their sincerity and frankness in answering questions.
- Their marketing philosophy and grasp of the selling game.
- Their overall professional appearance and presentation.
- Their understanding of the housing market in your neighborhood.
- Their ability to comfortably communicate with you.
- those whose listings are displayed on realtor.com with lots of pictures.
Attend local Open Houses
Use this opportunity to observe an agent’s professionalism and judge their knowledge of the home and neighborhood. Plus, you’ll discern their motives. Are they trying to sell the house or just looking to recruit potential buyers? Is this someone you’d want as your agent? Is the open house being performed by the agent or an assistant?
One interview method:
Interview several agents, advising them that you would like to hear about them, their company, their marketing plan, and their commission arrangements.
Before you meet, tell them that you do NOT want their pricing recommendations until you are ready to put your home on the market. This will only require one meeting (with each agent) since they won't need to see your home and then do any research to determine it's value.
Eliminating the pricing aspect will save the agent from most of their usual preparation time. They can concentrate on giving you their normal presentation combined with fielding your questions. Be sure to have them tour your home so that you can evaluate their comments. Some may be inclined to take measurements and notes during their tour.
This technique should give you a very objective feeling about the agents. You won’t be swayed by an agent’s inflated opinion of your home’s value. Does the agent have a firm grasp of home selling? Are they knowledgeable about the homes in the area. Did you have the ability to readily communicate with them and do you feel comfortable with them?
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