Finding the right real estate agent

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When it comes time to list their home, most sellers have two questions for their real estate agents: How much will they get for the property and what will the commission be? Beyond that, real estate agents say few sellers take time to ask additional questions, and many hire the first agent they meet.

Most people hire an agent on appearance and gut feeling.  Selling a home is a very big and important transaction, and sellers should probe deeper to find out why that agent is better compared to another agent.

A better approach would be for sellers to treat that first meeting with a listing agent as an interview and ask a wide range of questions before they make a decision. At Realestateuno we are offering sellers that opportunity. By listing your property on our listing board, agents can send you information before you even meet them. You can request a market appraisal of your area, or comparative selling prices around your area. The information provided on the Realestateuno listing board will allow agents to submit a market appraisal as key information including the state, suburb, type of property, number of bed and bathroom and car parking is all displayed.  

In addition, the Realestateuno listing board allows you to ask 3 specific questions to an agent. This will allow the agent to tailor a response specific to your requirements. We have also established a video response service whereby agents can submit a short 2-3 minute, video highlighting their skills and experience. So, before you meet them in person you can evaluate them, similar to what you would do in a job interview.

It may sound like an obvious place to start, but surprisingly many sellers don’t ask potential agents about their job experience. A home is typically the most expensive business transaction someone will be involved with in their life. Unfortunately, many people ask more questions when getting their hair cut than they do buying and selling their home.

There’s no magic number when it comes to experience. But sellers should look for agents with enough sales under their belts to comfortably handle deals from listing to closing. Equally important, agents need to know the area and have familiarity with the local inventory. So, ask agents about their recent listings.

If you don’t market a home, it won’t sell. And if you don’t ask how the agent plans to market your home, you’re not doing your due diligence. Sellers really need to ask agents how they plan to market their home to the greatest number of potential buyers. Find out what your agent’s philosophy is for marketing listings, and ask what the agent will do after taking the listing.

It’s key to check out the agent’s marketing track record. By looking at past listings, sellers can see how well the agent raises a home’s visibility online — a must-have skill because most buyers find their home through Internet listings. Make sure the agent you hire uses quality photos for the online listings. And increasingly, agents need to be able to show sellers examples of virtual tours they’ve created, because that tool is becoming important for buyers.

The seller needs to have expectations for frequency of communications and should know what media will be used for communications. Will the agent call you on the phone or email you? There should be some understanding upfront, and the agent should approach the sale of your home as if he or she is part of a team.

Verify what the agent says by looking at how he or she has communicated with you so far. If the agent hasn’t respected your preferences, has failed to follow up, or has been sloppy with emails and texts, there’s no incentive for the agent to shape up after he or she is hired.

It’s good to ask about an agent’s sales stats, but you don’t need to get too Two stats will tell you volumes. The first stat to check is the list-to-price ratio, which is the final sale price divided by the most recent listing price, expressed as a percentage. If the percentage is over 100 percent, the agent’s homes sell for more than their list price. Understanding this percentage helps sellers determine if the agent is knowledgeable and is not inflating the price just to obtain the listing.

An equally important stat is how long the agent’s listings stay on the market. The average days on the market figure reflects the agent’s ability to price appropriately, as well as effectively market the property. For a seller, finding an agent whose homes are on the market for a below-average amount of time will provide confidence that the agent is an expert who will handle their home sale quickly and efficiently.

Of course, the average list time is relative and it varies by region. So, it’s a good idea to speak with multiple agents in order to put that stat in context.

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