10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring An Agent To Sell Your Home
Selling your home can be a hassle or a breeze, depending on who you hire. The right choice can result in a well-presented listing with beautiful photos and an outstanding description, a strategic marketing plan, a speedy sale and a smooth process. The wrong choice can result in blurry cell phone photos, no marketing, no showings, and a languishing listing and lack of offers.
Yet how will you determine who to hire? You can certainly ask for recommendations and check online reviews from places like Yelp and Zillow. Additionally, here's some questions that will help you make a sound choice.
Q: What’s your background and experience?
Make sure the agent you’re hiring has enough closed sales under their belt to comfortably handle the deal from listing to closing. Ask about recent listings and sales in your area. (If the agent has a map like this one, that's a big help.)
Q: Who is the target market for my home and how will you reach those potential buyers? What is your marketing plan?
They should know who is buying in your area and where they’re coming from and have a comprehensive written marketing plan that incorporates multiple digital channels. Take a look at how their current listings appear online. Are there compelling descriptions and multiple high-quality photos? A buyer’s first impression of your home will usually be what they see online. Make sure it’s not something they’ll skip based on the online presentation.
Q: How will you communicate with me?
How often would you like to hear from the agent and via what communication channel? Make sure you’re comfortable with their communication strategy and style.
Q: Who else will I be working with if I list my home with you, and what are their qualifications?
Some agents work solo but many now work as part of a team. If so, find out how many people are on the team and who else on the team you’ll be working with. If you’ll be working with someone else, what will their role be and what will the agent’s role be.
Q: How often do you represent both sides in a transaction? If an unrepresented buyer is interested in the home, would you be representing them yourself or referring them to another agent?
“Double-ending” a transaction, as it’s called in the industry, means that one agent represents the buyer and the seller, creating “dual agency.” This isn’t intrinsically a bad thing, but it does require that you have a high degree of trust in your agent as you are counting on them to look out for your best interests along with those of the buyer. Sometimes your interests may be aligned with those of the buyer, but when it comes to price negotiations or repair negotiations, dual agency can require an agent to walk the narrow line in the middle. NOTE: Be very cautious of agents who represent both sides more than their peers. Some agents specifically mount “coming soon” marketing campaigns designed to draw their own buyers to a property. That may sound like a good thing, but advertising only to a segment of the overall market prior to MLS entry increases the agent’s chances of “double-ending” the listing and making more money without increasing your chances of making the most amount of money. In fact, that plan can backfire because the MLS requires “days on market” to include the time from when the sign went up or the first ad appeared.
Q: What are your sales statistics?
Ask about how many homes they’ve sold in the past year and how many were buyers versus how many were sellers. Find out the list price to sales price ratio and the average time on the market. Compare this to the Multiple Listing Service as a whole or to other agents you’re interviewing if you’re speaking to more than one agent.
Q: How do you arrive at the recommended list price?
Be cautious of agents who recommend a price higher than what other similar homes are selling for in the neighborhood. They may be doing what’s called “bidding” for your listing. You want to select an agent who understands pricing trends in the neighborhood and can explain to you how they arrived at their recommended price.
Q: What should I do to get my home ready for sale?
Do they have any specific repair or staging suggestions? Are there any projects they would recommend that would increase your selling price more than their cost? Do they have contractors they can suggest? Will they include a professional staging consultation as part of their service?
Q: How long will the process take?
Although there are no guarantees how long a property will take to sell, an experienced agent should be able to provide you with a realistic timeframe for what to expect once you sign a listing agreement. From that point, how long will it be before the home is listed in the MLS, before you might reasonably expect to have an offer in hand, and until you might likely be closing escrow.
Q: Will you let me cancel my listing if I’m not happy with your service?
It’s important that you be happy with the service you’re receiving and an agent who is confident that they’ll deliver what they promise will often stand behind that promise with a guarantee.