FIVE Tips to Finding the Best Real Estate Agent to Sell Your House

Selling Your Home

Life is full of changes and now one of them has made you decide that it’s time to sell your house. Now, the next big question is how to find the best real estate agent to handle the sale. Some sellers might consider trying to sell their home themselves, known as an FSBO. But in many cases they will end up hiring an agent in the end when they find that selling a home in today’s competitive market isn’t as simple as putting a sign in the yard and signing a contract.

An experienced local real estate agent is worth their weight in gold, literally. They will be able to lay out a sales and marketing plan and will have the skills needed to close the deal when the time come and above all else they will have the professional integrity to represent their client’s interests to their best ability.

Finding the Best Agent

Here are FIVE tips gathered from agents and other real estate experts that they say should definitely be considered when looking for an agent to represent you in selling your home.

1. Get an Agent Who Knows Your Neighborhood

Look for an agent who has knowledge of the neighborhood. They will already know the housing market in the the area and be familiar with the other inventory available and how many other homes have been sold recently. An agent who is not familiar with an area or a certain neighborhood will have to take time to get up to speed whereas a local agent will have boots on the ground right away.

2. Ask Around and Do Your Research

Pay attention to who is selling property in your neighborhood. You can walk or drive around in your neighborhood and see who has signs up. Talk to your neighbors and ask them if they like the agent they are working with and, if so, why. Make note of how quickly their homes sell.

Go online. Realtor.com, Zillow, Homesnap, and others will allow you to see who the most active agents in your area are. You don’t necessarily need the top agent in your neighborhood but you will want to find an agent who has sold recently.

You want to find an agent that you are compatible. If you are someone who needs answers quickly, you might want to consider hiring someone with a support team. Top selling agents are busy people and won’t always have the time to return your call immediately. However, any good agent should return your call within a few hours.

Little else can measure up to a good referral which is a huge testament of the success of an agent and more than one is even better. Don’t be shy. Ask your neighbors, your doctor and co-workers who live in your area who they’ve used before or maybe one of their family members. According to the National Association of Realtors, 64% of sellers using an agent found them through referrals from friends or family with 70% of the same groups saying they would use that agent again.

3. Don’t Hire Your Friend or a Relative

Selling your home could well be one of the biggest financial transactions of your life and there is really no room for error and no way to go back to the negotiating table if you find out that the neighbor down the street with a similar house got $10k more than you did. Finding the right agent can be critical to you getting the best price for your home.

So, the baby sister who just got her license may be the best sis ever and, not giving her your business and a chance at a nice commission, is no doubt going to add a little stress to Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma's. But the evidence is there and listing your house for sale or submitting an offer through a relative or close friend may save you some personal stress but it could also cause you to miss out on a better price for your house. This is especially so if that relative or friend is new to the industry and not familiar with the properties in the neighborhood you want to buy or sell in.

There are ways you can soften the blow to your family or friend. First of all, be honest with them about your concerns and propose a compromise. If inexperience is the problem, you can ask them if they know a more experienced agent in their office who would co-list your house and they would share the fee. If they don’t work at a local real estate brokerage, you can ask for their help in finding an experienced local agent and make a referral. Agents who refer other agents are paid a fee when your house sells.

Family and friends are important, but at the end of the day, you want to hire the most qualified person to represent you. Real estate transactions can often bring out the worst in people. It’s can be a very stressful process and it’s a huge life change. Sometimes it can be best to get the help of someone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with you.

Worst case scenario, the sales process isn’t going well and you decide you need to change agents. As hard as it may have been to tell them you can’t hire them, it will pale in comparison to having to fire them.

4. Pick an Agent Who Can Back-Up Price with Facts

It is widely recommended to interview at least three agents in your home before picking the one you want to work with. Don’t base your choice on the agent who suggests the highest listing price, that can be negotiated later. Have your criteria for an agent in mind: experience, sales record and personality. You want an agent who can back up their price suggestions with local data and isn’t just giving you the price you want to hear. In the latter situation, the agent will most likely have to ask you for a price reduction before selling making it seem like a failure instead of the successful sale it should have been.

5 Find an Agent Who Knows How to Close the Deal

There are real estate agents who make a career of selling homes and they work at it full time and there are others who career real estate agents refer to as “hobbyists.” There are all levels of real estate agents. Some have gotten their real estate license to be able to represent themselves in a transaction and now just use it occasionally. Others work at real estate in their spare time or only a few hours a day or treat it as a second job to supplement their real careers.

While some part-time agents do regularly close deals it’s a good idea to ask a potential agent how many transactions they closed in the last year. If it’s at least one a month, it’s on par with the National Association of Realtors national average.

According to a 2016 report done by the National Association of Realtors, agents working fewer than 20 hours a week have a median gross income of $8,550 a year. Compare that to an agent working 60 hours or more a week who produces a median gross income of $93,400, the same NAR report shows. The more an agent works, the more home transactions they close and the more experience they have under their belt. Selling a home is hard work with a lot of hours spent on all the details that make up getting a home on the market at the right price and the right time to the right buyers.

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