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How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

(A continuation of How to Sell a House)

By - 2006

We continue with our list of questions, which I hope will help you choose a real estate agent that works well with you, sells your home fast, and gets a decent price for it.

Why should I list my home with you?

Just listen to what they have to say. If an agent can't convincingly sell himself to you, he may not do such a great job with buyers for your home either.

What will you do to market my home?

Any agent can place an ad and put your home in the multiple listings. Do they have existing leads - people looking for properties like yours? Do they let other agents know about your property?

Do you show your own listings very often?

Many agents just list real estate for sale and let others sell it for them. It's more profitable for them, but not for you. If they are a good salesperson, you want them to be going through the house with potential buyers as often as possible.

Do you attend your own closings?

Again, it may be better for their business to delegate this part of the process, but it isn't better for you. You want the same person to be there through the whole process. You want one person to call. Things go wrong all the time in real estate, so don't complicate it further by having more people involved.

How much is the commission?

The highest I have heard of for residential real estate is 7%. With higher home prices, full service commissions here in Tucson are as low as 3% now. Check around, and if the commission is high, ask what they do extra to justify it.

What is included in your service?

Do they do all showings? Do they have arrange all the details of the closing?

Does your broker or you control advertising of my home?

You want the agent in control as much as possible. Otherwise he has to compete with the other listings, and may not be able to do what he needs to do to effectively market your home.

How close to asking price are your listings selling for?

These statistics should be available. You can also get the statistics for all the MLS listings, to see if the agent is doing better than average.

What is your average time to sell a home?

You can check with the Board Of Realtors for the usual average, to see if the agent is better or worse than average.

How many listings do you currently have?

Active agents with many listings are often more efficient. Ideally, you want to choose a real estate agent who is very active, but doesn't have too many listings right now. You don't want to be forgotten in the crowd.

How many buyers are you currently working with?

The more the better. An agent who has a long list of customers will be more likely to sell your home.

How long is your typical listing agreement?

They always want to lock you into a lengthy listing contract. They don't want to waste time and money marketing your property if you'll be changing your mind in three weeks. Six months is common, but why do they need it if homes in the area are selling in 60 days? A three month listing should give them the time they need. If she hesitates, assure the agent that after three months you will re-list if you are satisfied with the job she is doing for you.

What if I am not satisfied?

Ask if you can cancel the contract. They can effectively cancel the contract by no longer trying to sell your home, and yet you have no such out. Point that out and their broker may agree that with written reasons and two week's notice you can cancel the contract. Get this in writing.

How many homes per year do you sell?

Many agents sell fewer than ten homes per year. If these are low-priced homes, and thus low commissions, they aren't making too much money. The problem with this is that they may skimp on advertising your home (their brokers often pay only for very limited advertising of your home), because they are short on cash.

How will you determine what price I should ask?

Ask if he will do a comparative market analysis (CMA) to determine the value of your home. This should include information on recent sales in your neighborhood, with the selling prices and detailed descriptions of the homes.

Are you a full time agent?

Many aren't full time real estate agents. They may have another job, be an investor, or be semi-retired. You want someone who does this every day.

Those are the questions to ask. Now we will have a bit more on how to choose a real estate agent that is right for you....

The book continues here: Choosing a Real Estate Agent - Including a little telephone test.

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Houses Under Fifty Thousand | How to Choose a Real Estate Agent