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More on Choosing a Real Estate Agent

(A continuation of How to Sell a House)

By - 2006

In addition to the questions for agents we went through, here are some additional tips for choosing a real estate agent that is best for selling your home. Following that, there are some warnings about agents in general, and the things that they aren't likely to tell you about their business.

If you call the real estate office and it takes twelve rings for someone to answer, be suspicious. In fact, you may want to hang up and try again later, to see if this is normal. If you have a hard time getting through, buyers will too. Also pay attention to whether your calls are returned promptly when you leave a message.

Be careful with agents who hesitate to give an opinion on pricing or other important issues. Some just want to agree with whatever you say to get the listing. You want an expert who will tell you what you need to hear.

When you are ready to list, be sure that the agent goes over every detail of the listing agreement with you. Ask as many questions as you need to. This is a legal contract. If, for example, an agent brought you a full-priced offer on your home, and you had meanwhile changed your mind about the price or about selling, you will have to pay the commission regardless - it's in the contract.

Ask about any disclosures you will have to make. Look at any papers you'll have to sign when you sell the home. Will you have to pay for any inspections, or have a survey done? A good agent should give you fair warning of any issues that may come up.

Things Real Estate Agents Won't Tell You

Most real estate agents will feel a little uncomfortable if you run through all the questions covered on our previous pages. Many would probably argue some of the points above as well. That's okay. They see things from their own perspective, but be aware that there are also things they won't tell you.

Open Houses Are For The Agent

An open house is a prospecting tool for the agent, not a way to sell your home. In fact, many experienced agents won't even host their own open houses. They get a newer agent to host it. I did this many times as a new agent. The listing agent gives up half of his commission if the hosting agent sells the home. Would they risk that if homes were commonly sold from open houses?

Why let dozens of people who aren't qualified to buy your home track their muddy feet through it then? The listing agent does it so they look like they're doing everything they can to sell your home, and the hosting agent uses it as a prospecting tool. Two dozen couples that want a new home coming right to them - now that's an opportunity (just not for you).

The whole point is to collect a list of buyers to work with. Most of these buyers are looking for homes that are nothing like yours. It isn't really expected that the agent will sell your house in the process. Of the many open houses I hosted when I started selling real estate, I didn't sell one of them that way.

Not that it can't happen. Any additional exposure of your home can increase the odds of it selling. Just consider that this is a more effective prospecting tool for the agent than it is a tool for selling your home. It may or may not be worth the trouble for you. If you do have a open house, hide the valuables - no matter what they say, an agent can't watch the visitors all the time.

There is more to know about choosing a real estate agent, so don't miss the final page on this subject...

The book continues here: Hiring a Real Estate Agent - More things to watch out for.

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