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What Seller’s Need to Know

Whether you decide to partner with a Realtor or not, is a personal decision.  If you have the expertise in the many areas of knowledge that are required, as well as the time to dedicate to the sale of your home, it may be to your benefit to sell on your own.  About 9 percent of the real estate sales in any given year are FSBO (For Sale By Owner).

The prime motivation for not using a Realtor, is to save that commission fee. The commission, of course is avoided, however, the average FSBO goes on the market at a reduced price and then sells at a price that is lower than the median market sales prices.  What this really means is that the owner is likely to break even at best, or may close for a higher net sale price and could have saved themselves time and aggravation.   

When you choose to use an agent, choose carefully.  It can save you time and headaches.  Be sure that you interview several agents, and ask them questions. Below are some the questions and the logic behind asking them.   

How many real estate transactions have you been involved in?

Everybody must start somewhere, and its fine to give the "new guy" a chance, but be sure that he or she meets the rest of the criteria.  Some of the biggest agents in the market barely have time to speak with you.  You want to be a priority to your agent. 

How long am I obligated to list with the agent?

An industry standard is six months.  It takes longer than 60 days for the marketing to fully get your property integrated.   Anything short of a 90 day listing makes no sense.  If you have a 90 day listing and all is going well with the agent, by all means, extend your listing contract.  It is easier than starting the process over again, losing valuable time on market while interviewing new agents. 

What happens if I am unhappy with my Realtor?  

Some real estate brokerages will consider assigning a new agent to your home or will release you if you are unhappy.  Chances are, if you are unhappy with your agent, your agent is also unhappy with you.  In some cases, it is best to move into a new relationship.  The most important thing is to get your home sold.

What Marketing will be done to sell my home?

Ask your candidates what they will be doing to get your home sold.  Your primary advertising will be the ads that are online.  Ask to see current or previous listings that the agent has done.  Look at the quality of the photos, the number of photos, and the presentation online.  Your first showing of your home is online.  If the online appearance is poor, you will not get as positive a market response to your listing.

Ask if the marketing will include "Open House".  This is really a personal preference of both the Realtor and the owner.  The percentage of homes that are sold at "Open" are relatively small.  There are, however, some buyers who are hesitant to call an agent.  It is always possible that they will walk into your home and fall in love.  One Open House every 4 - 6 weeks is more than appropriate.   In most market places, there is a high percentage of properties that are sold by co-broke.  This is when another agent is working with a buyer and has suggested that the buyer see your home.  Again, this is where it is really important to have good information and photos in your listing.  Your agent is marketing to both the general public and to other agents.  Choose an agent that can set your property apart from the others. 

 How many listings do you have and who will I be working with throughout the transaction? 

In a quick preview of the market place, I found agents with as many as 70 listings. This is a lot for any one agent to handle.  Agents carrying this many listing generally form "Teams".  This can be a good and a bad thing, depending on how the Team is managed.  

You have only one transaction that is important to you. What you want to know is who is my transaction important to?  Who will answer my questions when I have them, who will handle the problems when they occur and can I speak to that person prior to signing an agreement?  A Team is as good as their Leader and a Leader is a good as their team.  

What will be the Commission Rate

This is always a hot subject, but it is one that should be given serious thought. 

 Please remember that when you are paying a commission it is generally split between two agents.  If you are paying a 7 percent rate, 3.5 percent is going to your listing agent and 3.5 percent to the agent who brings the buyer.  Negotiating your rate is a good thing if it saves you money, but be sure that it is not costing you a sale. Find out what the average rate is in your market placed.  If your property is priced below the average rate, and the property next door is commissioned at a higher rate, the buyers' realtor has a perceived bias toward the property with the higher commission.  Be sure that you give careful consideration to all aspects of the commissions and the affect they can have on the sale of your home.  

 What will be our means of communication and how often will I be updated on activity.  

Unfortunately, in some transactions, there is not always news to give to the seller. If nothing is happening and you have no showings, there is really not a lot to discuss.  You should have set intervals where you touch base with your Agent.  It's a good practice and excellent realtors are pleased that you are a caring and motivated seller.  

 You will also want to know how the agent will communicate.  Do you prefer a call, a text, an email?  Your agent needs to know how best to meet your needs. Remember that you are essentially an employer and the agent you choose is your employee, but they can only do what they are told.  Be sure to share your expectations.