14 Questions You Absolutely Must Ask Your REALTOR Before You List

Ask around... get to know who has the most signs in your market area. Who's the most active agent? 

Ultimately, the interview is about 3 things; how well the agent knows the local market, how effectively she will represent you, and how well you can work together. 

Use the following questions as a guide to help you determine which agent is right for you

1. Are you a full-time real estate professional? How long have you worked full time in real estate? How long have you been representing sellers? What professional organizations do you belong to?

Knowing whether or not your agent practices full time can help you determine potential scheduling conflicts and his or her commitment to your transaction. As with any profession, the number of years a person has been in the business does not necessarily reflect the level of service you can expect, but it is a good starting point for your discussion. Experienced agents usually make better agents. You deserve an agent who is dedicated full time to selling your home.

Take into account what professional organizations they belong to. The minimum should be a licensed professional who's a member of the local real estate board and multiple listing service as well as the state and National Association of Realtors®. Only about half of all licensed agents belong to the National Association of Realtors. NAR members pledge to observe a strict code of ethics and continuous training that typically goes beyond that required by state regulations.

2. Do you have a team to handle different parts of your business? 

It is not uncommon for agents who sell a lot of houses to hire people to work with them. Done properly they allow team members with different skill sets to provide more value to you. A great administrative team frees up the agent to do what they do best - sell your home.  Make sure to know the difference between a team that has team members truly specializing in different areas of the business, rather than a team that is just a group of agents throwing all their production in one hat and members still operating as single agents.  This model does not serve you, the customer.

You may want to know who on the team will take part in your transaction, and what role each person will play. It is impossible for a single agent to be all things to everyone. There is a wide range of responsibilities that need to be covered, for instance negotiating contracts, showing buyers, taking photos, administrative duties, marketing, continuing education, delivering paperwork, placing signs, attending closings, developing marketing strategies, updating clients, research on current market conditions and many more.

  3. Do you have a digital marketing strategy? How do you promote your listings online? 

You don't want that agent who is going to put poor quality photos of your house on their web site and hope for the best. Many buyers prefer to search online for homes because it's available 24 hours a day and can be done at home. So you want to make sure your home is listed online, on the agent's Website, their company's site and other local and national real estate sites like realtor.com and others like it. By searching your agent's Website you will get a clear picture of how much information is available online. 

However, just having a nice looking web site does not guarantee that potential buyers are actually looking at it. What is being done to expose the website on search engines, social media, etc. Does your home appear on lots of other web sites for maximum exposure?

4. Who will respond to phone inquiries about your home?

 Is your agent or their team members going to get that valuable phone call about your home from prospective buyers when it comes into the office? Some companies do not forward inquiries to your actual listing agent. Instead these calls go to a "duty agent", usually a newer and more inexperienced agent that holds office duty to obtain business for themselves and that probably has never even seen your house. Find out what the office policy is. You want all inquiries to go only to your listing agent or team as these are the people that know most about your home and are most likely to sell it.

 5. How will you keep in contact with me during the selling process, and how often? Can I reach you by cell phone? And during what hours are you available? 

Some agents may email, fax or call you daily to tell you that visitors have toured your home, while others will keep in touch weekly. Asking this question can help you to reconcile your needs with your agent's systems. Don't be afraid to let them know what your preferred choice of communication is and how frequently you would like to be contacted.

 6. What types of things separate you from your competition?

How effectively will you advertise? Do you have 24-hour advertising capability? What kinds of tools do you use? How many photos will be taken? Will all the leads be followed up on by your agent's team or will they go to other agents who may have other listings they would prefer to show? Agents who are innovative and offer new methods of attracting home buyers will measurably outperform agents who rely on methods of the past. Marketing effectively today requires technology know-how and progressive strategies that add value and service for both buyers and sellers!

7. Will you give me names of past clients?

Interviewing an agent can be similar to interviewing someone to work in your office. Contacting references can be a reliable way for you to understand how he or she works, and whether or not this style is compatible with your own.

8. Do you have a performance guarantee? If I am not satisfied with your performance, can I terminate our listing agreement?

 In the heavily regulated world of real estate, it can be difficult for an agent to offer a performance guarantee. If your agent does not have a guarantee, it does not mean they are not committed to high standards. Typically, he or she will verbally outline what you can expect from their performance. Keller Williams® Realty understands the importance of a win-win business relationships: the agent does not benefit if the client does not also benefit.

9. How will you get paid? How are your fees structured? May I have that in writing?

 In many areas, the seller pays all agent commissions. Sometimes, agents will have other small fees, such as administrative or special service fees, that are charged to clients, regardless of whether they are buying or selling. Be aware of the big picture before you sign any agreements. Ask for an estimate of costs from any agent you contemplate employing. Some companies offer a fee for service menu. You may think you are paying less initially but you may have to pay extra for advertising, a lock box and even negotiating an offer. 

10. How would you develop a pricing strategies for our home?

Although location and condition affect the selling process, price is the primary factor in determining if a home sells quickly, or at all. Access to current property information and knowledge about the particular market area are essential. Ask your agent how they created the market analysis, and which properties your agent considered. Were those comps in the same neighborhood? How recent did they sell? 

11. What listing price do you recommend and what is that price based on?

Pricing is the most critical step to selling your home. Take great care in choosing an agent with the knowledge to price your home effectively. Keep in mind the selling price should attract prospective buyers to your home, get you top dollar in the current market and reflect the condition of your home. Be realistic and avoid 'yes agents', who will say 'yes' to any request or price while your home languishes on the market. Do not chose your agent based on who recommends the highest list price. That tactic is called "buying a listing" and will most likely not result in a sale but only in disappointment. 

12. How many homes have you listed and how many homes have you sold in the last year in my neighborhood?

Real estate markets are very local. Look for an agent who has experience with homes similar to yours and is active in your area. If your home has special features look for an agent with experience in those areas. A great agent on paper may not be the right agent if she is don't doing active business in your local market. Exceptional agents usually specialize in a smaller geographic area. That way they can keep current with local market statistics, school rankings, zoning policies, new construction in the area and changes that may affect value. Your agent should have a good record of selling homes, not just listing them. After all, this is your ultimate goal.

13. What does the listing agreement entail, what are the beginning and expiration dates, and what are the fee amounts I will be paying?

 Have your agent go over every detail in the listing agreement with you until you understand it completely. Make sure the beginning and ending dates are on the agreement; a good standard for length is three to six months but can vary based on current market conditions. Know exactly what fees you will be paying and remember that less is not always better. If the agent stands to make very little commission you can bet it will be reflected in the amount of time and effort that is spent marketing your home. If the agent reduces their commission to get the listing it may mean they intend to spend very little money promoting the property. 

14. What disclosure laws apply to me and what do I need to be aware of?

Make sure your agent helps you with locating professionals whose services you may need to get your home ready for the market. There also may be required inspections in your area. You will have to provide a seller's property disclosure statement to potential buyers. Your agent should be able to advise you in completing that correctly. Create a home marketing file including a property fact sheet, a property disclosure statement, current utility information and pest control report. 

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