How do I Interview a Listing Agent (San Carlos)?

Asked by Janet Davidson, 94070 Thu Aug 9, 2007

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Kendra Garcia…, , Easton, MA
Thu Aug 9, 2007
It is a good idea to interview potential real estate agents before deciding on whom to hire. Just as you are sizing up the potential for a good fit, rest assured that the real estate agent will likely be interviewing you, too. Be wary of agents who don't ask you questions and probe for your motivation. Good agents are just as selective about their clients, too.

Questions to ask:
How Long Have You Been in the Business?
What is Your Average List-Price-to-Sales-Price Ratio?
What is your direct mail campaign?
Where and how often do you advertise?
Will you show me a sample flyer?
How do you market online?
What Are the Top Three Things That Separate You From Your Competition?
How Much Do You Charge?
What Haven't I Asked You That I Need to Know?
Etc. Good Luck!!!
3 votes
Allison Klein, , Redwood Shores, Redwood City, CA
Fri Aug 10, 2007
Meeting With San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate Agents
So you’ve decided to sell your home and have a fairly good idea of what you think it is worth. Being a sensible home seller, you schedule appointments with three local listing real estate agents. Each Realtor comes prepared with a "Competitive Market Analysis" on fancy paper and they each recommend a specific sales price. Amazingly, a couple of the Real Estate Agents have come up with prices that are lower than you expected. Although they back up their recommendations with recent sales data of similar homes, you remain convinced your house is worth more. When you interview the third real estate agent’s figures, they are much more in line with your own anticipated value, or maybe even higher. Suddenly, you are a happy and excited home seller, already counting the money in the bank.

Which Real Estate Agent Do You Choose?
If you’re like many people, you pick Realtor number three. This is an real estate agent who seems willing to listen to your input and work with you. This is an real estate agent that cares about putting the most money in your pocket. This is an real estate agent that is willing to start out at your price and if you need to drop the price later, you can do that easily, right? After all, everyone else does it! The truth is that you may have just met an real estate agent engaging in a questionable sales practice called "buying a listing." He "bought" the listing by suggesting you might be able to get a higher sales price than the other real estate agents recommended. Most likely, he is quite doubtful that your home will actually sell at that price. The intention from the beginning is to eventually talk you into lowering the price. Why do real estate agents "buy" listings? There are basically two reasons: A well-meaning and hard working real estate agent can feel pressure from a homeowner who has an inflated perception of his home’s value and they want to get the listing. On the other hand, there are some real estate agents who engage in this sales practice routinely.

What Happens Behind the Scenes
Whichever the case, if you start out with too high a price on your home, you may have just added to your stress level, and selling a home is stressful enough. There will be a lot of "behind the scenes" action taking place that you don’t know about. Contrary to popular opinion, the listing agent does not usually attempt to sell your home to a homebuyer. That isn’t very efficient. Listing agents market and promote your home to the hordes of other local real estate agents who do work with home buyers, dramatically increasing your personal sales force. During the first couple of weeks your home should be a flurry of activity with buyer’s agents coming to preview your home so they can sell it to their clients, that is if the price is right. If you and your real estate agent have overpriced your home, fewer agents will preview your home. After all, they are Realtors, and it is their job to know local market conditions and home values. If your house is dramatically above market, why waste time? Their time is better spent previewing homes that are priced realistically.

If you would like more information please contact me at and I would be happy to answer more of your questions.
1 vote
The Hagley G…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Thu Aug 9, 2007
Interview at least three LOCAL agents and focus on innovation and technology when it comes to marketing. If they focus on print and direct mail - move on. (Although direct mail and door knocking can be effective when used to support web and television advertising.) Don't choose an agent soley on commission. Remember, you get what you pay for.
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1 vote
Bob Bredel, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Thu Aug 9, 2007
Selecting a realtor can seem like an overwhelming task. Currently, there are over 21,000 realtors in the Bay Area. How do you know which one is best for you? First, the types of questions to ask your realtor will somewhat depend on if you are on the listing side or buying side. Below are 5 key areas to cover when interviewing a realtor to list your home.


(1) Go Local. First, make sure that the overwhelming majority of your prospective agent’s transactions are done locally, i.e. mid-peninsula (It would help if he or she specialized only in a few cities, San Carlos being one of them). I would never use a realtor who was not a local realtor. Local realtors know the market better, have better connections and are much more likely to sell your home at a price and with terms that are agreeable to you. When prospective buyers’ agents see a phone number starting with (916) or (510), for example, they know that if their clients were to put an offer on that particular home, there is a higher likelihood that the transaction is going to be very difficult. Agents from out of the area will be unfamiliar with our local forms and disclosure requirements. Additionally, their firm will not have a proven and trusted track record with San Carlos sales. In other words, if you list your home with an out of area agent, you may risk losing a percentage of traffic through your home. Often times, out of area agents are family members or close friends of the sellers conducting their services as a reduced cost. The better way to handle this situation is for sellers to have their out of area agent refer the sale to a local agent who will agree to compensate that out of area agent a referral fee. Most referral fees are about 25% of the total list commission.

(2) Explanation of CMA. A CMA or Current Market Analysis is what a realtor will use to help decide an offer price for your home. During your interview the realtor should be able to give you a comprehensive CMA for your home. Handing you a bunch of comparables at the interview is is NOT a CMA. I would view this as the sign of a lazy realtor. If he or she is this lazy prior to the home going on the market, you can imagine what you will get once your home actually gets to market. A solid CMA examines price per square foot, comparables, area trends, inventory, pending sales, overall market conditions and characteristics unique to your property. The CMA should be succinct and ultimately arrive at a limited price range for your home.

(3) Services. Superior realtors will come to an interview with their CMA, Referral Contacts, and an Offer of Services nicely packaged in an interview binder for your review. Just what types of services should you demand for your realtor aside from the normal MLS listing, open houses and flyers? In short, you should be very demanding. In San Carlos the majority of homes are selling for over a million dollars and your listing agent is most likely charging you close to 6% (split with the buyer’s agent) for the sale. You should expect most, if not all, of the services to be compensated by your agent. I always spell out all of the services I will pay for out of my own pocket, on paper, as part of my listing presentation so that there is no ambiguity over who is paying for what. For instance I always pay for most of the staging (up to a certain length of time) or a home rearrangement if staging is not necessary, a house cleaning, yard clean up, self-catered open houses, inspection reports, high-end flyers, photography, virtual tours and more.

(4) Negotiating the Commission. Most homes in San Carlos have a list commission of between 5-6%. This commission is then split with the buyer’s agent. While commissions are negotiable, most very good San Carlos agents will not go below 5%, because they are worth it. If you were to interview a number of agents you would inevitably get one agent who would cut the list commission down to 4% or possibly even lower. Beware of these discount agents. Even though many of them advertise themselves as “full service” you are likely to get “discounted service”. My advice is to hire a top San Carlos agent and agree to the 5-6% commission. They should more than make up the difference of the discount agent’s prospective commission. The top San Carlos agent’s knowledge, local connections and work ethic will justify their commission.

(5) Experience. Always ask the prospective agent for a list of their last 12 month’s production. Again, a good agent will have this list prepared and will have it as part of their listing presentation to you at the interview. Ask for a list of references of sellers who have listed their home with your prospective agent within the last 12 months. Call the references.
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1 vote
Arn Cenedella, Agent, Greenville, SC
Tue Apr 15, 2008
All of the comments below are excellent suggestions.
Experience and integrity are high priority items.
Get some references.
How well does the agent listen to you?
Does you communciate well with each other?
Does the agents' approach and style fit well with you own?
Working with an agent - whether buying or selling - requires close and continual comminucation.
Do you feel heard? Is it clear your interests are primary?
0 votes
Jay Grossman, , 94403
Fri Apr 11, 2008
Of course, a local Realtor is best. They are nearby and can provide better service as well as respond quickly to show the property.
The Basic Story is always the Same. It is best to look for someone with some New Marketing Ideas and New Ways to Sell the Property Online and Offline.
The Agent works to sell the property in the least amount ot time at the maximum price; you just have to "click" with the Agent since it usually involves a lot of interaction to keep it stress free and rolling along at an agreed upon schedule. The Agent's importance comes into play when the final contracts/negotiations are handled properly and fairly.
0 votes
Carrie Crowe…, Agent, Southaven, MS
Fri Aug 10, 2007
There have been some really lengthy answers. So I will try to keep mine short and sweet.
Interview more than one agent.
Ask them questions that are relevant to their knowledge.
Ask about the absorption rate in your area.
Ask about what the market in your area is doing in general.
How long does a property stay on the market?
You can ask how long they have been a Realtor, but if they can answer all of your questions, and back it up with data, does it matter if they have been in the business 3 years or 20?
Ask them how they will promote your property.
Will it be on the internet? If so what channels do they use?
A good agent should come prepared to give a detailed interview of their abilities and knowledge.
Ask them how they communicate with their sellers.
There are many more questions you can ask, but this is a good start.
Good Luck! Carrie
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