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Hire or fire an agent/agency:

Selecting an agency

Aspects of the real estate agency evaluation and selection process are all pretty standard. Let's look at those most people skip over.

Large and small agencies, local or remote:

A single office from a national firm could consist of hundreds of agents that list homes from an extremely large area. They cover such a vast area that the agents have no idea about the local neighborhood or schools where the properties are located.

When prospects call these huge agencies about a home, the agent fielding the call is probably unfamiliar with the property, neighborhood, etc. If the for-sale sign has the listing agent's number, the problem is solved.

Small agencies often shut down early on week-days and some close on the weekends–when the public is out scouring the neighborhoods. Who answers calls from the buyers who want an appointment to see a house during these critical times?               

You may be considering listing with a friend whose office is a considerable distance from your town. This “remote” agency advertises in their community, not yours. Again, agents in that office won’t be astute in answering buyer phone inquiries. Advice: Stay local.

Blowing smoke:
All agents check the computer to view all the homes on the MLS that meet their buyer's criteria–not just the homes listed by their agency. Thus, if your home meets the needs of a particular buyer, it will be shown to that buyer, no matter which agency lists it. The point is, large or small, local or remote, the agencies all have access to all homes on the market if they belong to the MLS covering that area.

                PROMOTING AGENCY TOURS/CARAVANS:

Newer agents, retirees and the not-so-busy agents constitute the majority of the tour attendees that see homes on their weekly office tour. Today, listed homes are displayed on the MLS with color pictures. Tours really don’t offer the attraction they once did.

                THE LOCKBOX:

Lock boxes (keyboxes) allow agents to show your home without you having to be there. With the electronic key box, the date, time and the agent who used the key box are automatically recorded (with info transmitted to a central location) and can be programmed to restrict entry into your home during selected hours.

Not having any lockbox creates a scheduling nightmare. The buyer agents have to arrange to pick up house keys or meet the seller or the listing agent to show the buyers the property. If your home is hard to fit into the showing schedule, you will be skipped.

                QUALIFYING BUYERS:

Listing agents do not financially qualify buyers represented by other agents.  
You’ll find out the buyers qualification when their offer is presented. Many lenders are shying away from providing a "pre-approval" until after an actual application is applied for.
The best agency selection recommendation:

An agent lists a home and it can be quickly added to the Multiple Listing Service. All the agents in the local MLS then have immediate access to that new listing.

The lack of important differences between agencies means that it doesn’t make much difference which company you select (assuming they are local and reputable) because you will deal with only one agent. Actually, you rarely meet anyone else from that agency throughout the transaction.

Attend open houses. Talk with agents. Get a taste of the culture prevalent with that agency. Regardless of the size of the agency, your agent will probably be the only person from that office that will represent you.  

                               Who are you really hiring?

You’re really hiring an agent as opposed to an agency. Effectively, there really is only one “company”, the MLS.

The office is simply the group he or she decided to be with in the MLS. Agents switch companies, but rarely MLSs.

If your current relationship with your agency or agent isn’t working out, it’s usually because you simply didn’t get the result you wanted.

Firing your agent:

If your current relationship with your agency or agent isn’t working out, it’s usually because you simply didn’t get the result you wanted.

Action plan for switching real estate agencies:

To end a listing agreement when a cancellation option isn't in your agreement, call the managing broker and explain your desire to end the relationship. The agency will try to stall. Call again. Agencies do not like unhappy sellers. They don’t want any bad mouthing in the community.

If you’re in the process of canceling your listing, use this time in “limbo” to accomplish some vital tasks.

  • Interview other agents. Get their recommendations on price and marketing.
  • Don't tell the new applicants why you are changing agents - other than it’s time for a change. Otherwise, they could slant their listing presentation on how those issues won’t be a problem with them. 
  • Start fresh with a different office. It's like being a “new listing” on the MLS. A lower price will add to the effectiveness of your change.
  • Be honest with yourself. Is there anything that YOU can do differently that will increase your odds for selling? These include things like not using a lockbox for entry, not permitting a sign in your yard, being very restrictive with showing times, staying on the premises during the showings, allowing interior smoking by family members, failing to have your home look its best for showings, etc.
Actions that inhibit a top marketing effort will result in a longer selling period and a lower selling price. Trust me. Re-listing will give you a fresh start, but you’re going to have to do your part. Review the recommendations in the PREPARE Step.
Breaking the news:

The easiest way to tell your agent is to say that you feel it's time for a change. You just need a new group of agents to market your home and that a different sign out front should help generate some interest (it probably will). Like an unhappy employee that’s been terminated, the separation will be a welcome relief – for both sides.

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