Most people use the services of a Realtor when buying or selling real estate. While going it alone can certainly be successful, it can also be compared to self-dentistry or doing your own divorce.
The internet has changed the way we buy and sell houses, just as it has changed the way we do virtually everything else. The Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service and sites like Zillow make the information on properties available to everyone. Realtors make sense of the flood of information coming at people.
The advent of buyer brokerage means that almost all purchasers are represented by their own Realtors. They aren’t bouncing around to open houses, unrepresented.
The bottom line is that properties represented by Realtors sell more quickly and for more money than properties sold directly by owners.
If you are like most people, you will use a Realtor. The question is, which one? Since Realtors can seem to grow on trees, you have a lot of choices. How can you narrow them down to get the best representation for you unique situation?
The following are some important questions, and we’ve even provided importnat answers:
Should I talk to several people?
There is no right or wrong here. But, if you are planning to talk to several Realtors, make absolutely sure that all of them are giving you information about the same topics. Otherwise, you are trying to compare apples to oranges.
Plan head. Have a list of the same questions to ask each Realtor. Make sure each Realtor answers each question to your satisfaction. If a Realtor starts talking about something you may not have heard of from the others, call the others back and ask them the question as well.
What kinds of questions should I ask?
1. How much should I list my house for? When you ask this question, the Realtor whould be able to show you comparable properties in the neighborhood that are similar to yours. They should also be able to discuss each one in detail, as there are many factors that contribute to a final sale price.
A word of caution: Some people go with the Realtor who gives them the highest estimate of price. This is dangerous territory. The list price should be substantiated by comps, market conditions, and by what is unique about your property. The market will determine the ultimate selling price, not the Realtor.
YOU set the actual list price. Choose a Realtor who will put the greatest effort into marketing, not the one who throws aout the highest price. If one Realtor gives you a higher price that you agree with, but another seem to have the best marketing strategies, then go with the best Realtor but choose the higher list price.
2. Do you have a marketing plan for my house? What is it? How far in advance of the property going on the market will I see the plan?
3. Will your marketing plan include open houses?
4. Will you design a marketing brochure for people to see when they come to the property? Can I see a sample? befor the property islisted in the Realtor’s computer system?
5. Will you send postcards to the neighborhood to tell everyone about my property?
6. How will my property be advertised?
7. How will you communicate with me (calls, email, texts) How often with that communication occur?
8. Can you provide a list of recent references?
Some of you might have noticed that one of the questions we advise you ask a Realtor is NOT “How much experience have you had?” Isn’t that important?
The answer is Maybe or Maybe not. Some new(ish) Realtors can be the best choice. They may have experience in other real estate-related fields, like building or contracting. Or they may have the energy and the drive that goes beyond what other Realtors you interview have. Again, you have to choose the best Realtor for you.
9. I live in a neighborhood that has Realtors who specialize in my neighborhood. Is that the way to go?
Maybe or Maybe not. A neighborhood specialist is a great Realtor to consider, only as long as the person can devote as much time and energy to your property as you deserve.
10. What if I have a friend or family member who has his license?
Great. But hold that person to the exact same standards you hold everyone else. They may be a great family member or a great friend, but this is a business situation.
What if you don’t want to use them but they are putting pressure on you? This sticky situation can be avoided by simply saying that you don’t believe in mixing business and friendship or family.
For more tips, contact Renee and Alyssa at firstname.lastname@example.org.