Choose a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home
Once you've decided to sell your home, finding a Real Estate Agent is the next step in the process. In making this important decision you should understand:
How to evaluate an agent
Without any obligation, you can invite local Real Estate Agents to visit your home and give you a "listing presentation" about why they're the best ones to market it for you. Two to three presentations will probably give you a good opportunity for choice. A listing presentation includes having the Real Estate Agent review with you the reasons why you should list with that particular individual, and providing you with information that will assist you in making initial decisions about selling your home.
Recent laws in every state have defined the duties of someone specifically retained as a real estate agent. Most states require a real estate agent to explain his or her role at the outset of any conversation. A professional agent will promptly provide this such a disclosure. Look for an agent who:
- Is a member of the local board or association of Real Estate Agents
- Explains and discloses agency relationships (the role of the agent, i.e., who they are representing--the buyer or the seller) early on in the process, at "serious first contact"
- Advises you on how to prepare your home for the market
- Shows some enthusiasm for your property, listens attentively, instills confidence, operates in a professional manner, and has a complementary personality style to yours
- Has already researched your property in the public records and the MLS
- Brings data on nearby homes that have sold (or failed to sell) recently
- The following are important questions to ask a potential agent:
What a Real Estate Agent will do for you
There are many important reasons to use a Real Estate Agent. Some of the duties your Real Estate Agent will perform for you include:
- Walking through the process of selling your home from beginning to end
- Providing comparable information about the prices for which other properties have sold and analyzing data for you to gain a true comparison
- Supplying information regarding local customs and regulations you may want to consider
- Sharing information about your home through the Multiple Listing Service and on the Internet
- Placing advertisements for your home
- Fielding phone calls
- "Qualifying" potential buyers to make sure they would be financially able to buy your property
- Negotiating the sales contract
- Alerting you to potential risks
- Complying with the disclosures required by law
- Providing you with an estimate of the closing costs you will incur
- Helping you prepare for a smooth closing of the transaction.
Selling on your own
"You can get rid of the broker, but you cannot get rid of the broker's work" is an old caution for those who intend to offer their homes "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO). Selling on your own is not an easy undertaking. It requires a significant amount of time to study the process, understand your obligations, and do some of the complicated work that a real estate agent does. In addition, selling on your own requires extra help from outside professionals, such as a Real Estate Agents, accountants or attorneys for some of the jobs that require specific expertise.
The following are some major pitfalls to avoid:
- As a personal safety measure, only show your house to those individuals with whom you've made a prior appointment that's been confirmed by phone.
- Don't price the house so low that it sells too quickly - pay for a market value appraisal by an experienced appraiser.
- Hold out for a buyer with written pre-qualification from a lending institution.
- Find out your legal obligations.
If you require only limited services, some Real Estate Agents will agree to help with the transaction for a predetermined fee. You can call real estate companies and ask for the managing broker and see if they're interested in furnishing "unbundled services."