The real estate profession is just like any other: there are good Realtors and not so good ones. There are also Realtors who are great at what they do, but might not be a good fit for you for several reasons. Here are a few insider tips on how to find the right Realtor for you.
- Don't hire your relative or friend from church who's a Realtor just because he or she is a Realtor. You deserve the best, and the right fit, plus you want to maintain that friendly relationship that will go south if you hire her and she does a crappy job.
- Find an agent that specializes in your neighborhood or general area. The good real estate agents have an area they know best: they know the neighborhoods, what's hot and what's not, and where to find the buyers that want your area. Drive around and write down the agent's name on every real estate sign you see. Make a tick mark next to the name every time you see another sign belonging to that Realtor. When you're ready, call the top 2 or 3.
- Find houses with "sold" signs on top of the real estate agent's sign. Knock on the door and ask the owner about his or her experience with that Realtor. Here are some questions:
- How close to your asking price did you get?
- Did you price the house according to your Realtor's advice? Did the advice turn out to be right?
- Did the Realtor help you "stage" your house? (Staging is the process of arranging furniture and decor to make the house appealing to potential buyers.)
- How helpful was the Realtor when negotiating the price and terms of the contract? Did you feel like you were on your own?
- Ask your neighbors and friends for a connection to a good real estate agent, and for any names you get, ask why the person referring recommends the agent. Make sure they have good, compelling reasons (not "because she's my mom").
- This is kind of weird and obscure, but find a local title company and ask to talk to the busiest closer in the office. Ask her which Realtors have the smoothest transactions. The closer at a title company is the person who manages the closing of the transaction, and she'll have a really good feel for which Realtors are on top of their games and which are not.
Once you have a list of Realtors to interview, invite them over one at a time to give your their listing pitch. Listen for them to tell you what they think your house is worth, then tell each one you want to list it for five or ten thousand dollars more just to "see what happens". If one or more agrees to that without an argument, cross them off the list. The experts won't want to take on your listing if they can't sell it in a reasonable amount of time, and any Realtor worth his or her salt knows that pricing the house too high won't get it sold.
Ask about how they manage the listing in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). The good ones know how to make your listing "pop": you want to show up high in other agents' searches, and you want yours to stand out. Buyers' agents don't want to show buyers too many houses for sale, so they're looking for the best ones to show. You want an agent who can get yours on the short list.
Ask about staging - how the Realtor does it, what their techniques are, and why. The good ones will know what makes a house show well, and can back up their opinions with results.
Ask each one about their average listing days on market. That will give you an idea of how quickly the agent's typical listing gets sold. The time between putting a house on the market and getting it sold is a function of price and presentation: your house must be priced correctly, and it must appeal to the eye.
These are a few tips to help you find and hire the right Realtor to sell you house, so you can focus on what's important: building your dream home for your family.
For more insight on the process of building your forever home on your land, download our free guide, From Raw Land to Forever Home.