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10 Questions to ask your next listing agent

Published: Oct 14, 2009

So you have decided to hire a listing agent to assist you in marketing your home. But who should you hire - your brother-in-law, your neighbor two doors down, or the lady who sends you a calendar in the mail every December?

Amazingly, according to the latest National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 67% of sellers interview only one agent before making the decision to list with an agent. But is that wise? No, probably not. Instead successful sellers often find it prudent to meet with multiple agents and treat each appointment as a job interview.

So what questions should you ask each interviewee? Let's take a look at 10 questions to ask your next listing agent:

  1. How long have your been selling real estate and are you a full time agent?

    Agents who have been in the real estate business for more than five years are likely to have double or even triple the income of newer licensees, but don't pull the trigger too quickly. Many new licensees represent the new breed of college educated, internet enabled, smart phone packing entrepreneurs who may be just the kind of aggressive agent you've been looking for in this challenging market.

  2. How much real estate did you sell last year?

    Past performance can often be an indicator of future results. It may be harsh but agents who are having a hard time selling homes may also be suffering through a cash crunch which can affect their ability to invest marketing dollars into promoting your listing. Although a word of caution - don't be too surprised if you find that even the top producers in your marketplace have had a tough last twelve months.

  3. How many homes have you sold in my area?

    A great way to find a listing agent is to identify agents who have sold homes in the last six to twelve months in your specific neighborhood. Agents that are consistently selling homes in your market area will have a better handle on how and why buyers prefer living in your community. The ability to market these positives can be a huge plus when trying to locate a buyer for your home.

  4. What is your average market time vs. the market?

    The average market time is a measurement of how long it takes the average home to sell - from the time it lands on the local multiple listing service to the day it closes escrow. Strong listing agents can often outperform the overall market by using innovate and aggressive marketing techniques that can help a home sell faster and for more money.

  5. What is your list price to sales price ratio vs. the market?

    If homes in your market area are selling for an average of 96% of their asking price, in real estate lingo this is often referred to as the list price to sales price ratio. Ideally strong listing agents will be able to "beat the street" by helping sellers price homes closer to real market value.

  6. May I see a portfolio of other listings you have sold?

    If you were going to hire a doctor to perform heart surgery you probably wouldn't hire a dentist, right? The same is true in real estate. Ideally you want to hire an agent who specializes in your specific type of home - waterfront homes, golf course properties, and condos for instance. These agents will be better equipped to provide specialized services that will give you better odds at creating success.

  7. Do you provide a written report to sellers, and if so, how often?

    Communication is vital in a constantly changing real estate market. An agent that provides updates, even automated updates, on marketing, website activity, buyer showings, or even the sound of crickets (if nothing is happening) is a huge asset. Be clear and up front about your expectations and, if possible, set aside a day of the week to check in with the agent.

  8. May I see your resume or personal brochure?

    Asking for a resume is a great way to learn in-depth information about your potential new partner in the sale of your home. It can also reveal details you might never have known - like their job history, educational background, and list of references. Don't be afraid to dig deeper by asking for permission to call previous clients for a testimonial.

  9. Do you have a specific marketing plan in mind?

    Aggressive agents have aggressive marketing plans that ensure that their listings are exposed to every potential buyer in the marketplace. By coming to a meeting of the minds about what the specific marketing plan will be for your home at the outset of the listing agreement, you will set the stage for a successful relationship.

  10. Do you have internet strategy and how will you market my home online?

    The vast majority of buyers today use the internet as an information resource when searching for their next home. Because of this you want an agent who has embraced an internet strategy as an integral part of their marketing plan. Ask to see their personal website, samples of virtual tours, web pages, and a list of portals where your home will be marketed.

Don't be too surprised if some agents aren't quite ready to answer all the questions you have prepared for them. To be fair you may wish to provide them a list of your specific questions in advance so they can come to the listing appointment ready to impress you. Also, to make the most unbiased choice, ask agents to leave their pricing suggestions at the door. This will eliminate the natural but incorrect tendency of hiring the person who tells you the highest price and focus the interview solely on each agent's individual strengths and weaknesses.

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When you talk to friends and family about selling your home, many will give you the suggestion that to sell your home all you need to do is "put it on the internet." They may be right. As over 80% of buyers today begin their home search online, if you are ...

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