10 Questions to Ask Every Listing Agent Before You Sell
Selling your home is probably hands-down one of the largest and most important financial transactions you'll ever perform. Going it alone is never advised when it comes to a home sale as there are just too many moving pieces for a seller to be able to effectively navigate them while protecting their own interests.
Even more dangerous than going it alone would be to choose the wrong agent to list your home. An average agent will promise you the moon, the stars, and a couple extra galaxies to gain your business. Once you sign on the dotted line, however, they'll give you a jar full of rocks.
Here are great questions to ask a potential listing agent to avoid the stress that comes with lugging that "jar" around.
1. How long have you been selling real estate full-time?
This will give you a clear and well-defined idea of how dedicated the agent is to selling homes. You probably should consider steering clear of part-time agents unless you like part-time results.
2. How many homes have you closed in the last 12 months?
The answer to this question will indicate the success of the agent to get homes sold and the effectiveness of their marketing plan. This is where you sink your teeth in.
3. Do you keep track of buyers using the latest technology?
This is an extremely important question. A room full of filing cabinets may have worked in the 1980s, but so did lots of hair spray and bad makeup. In today's market you have to have the technology to find, attract, track, and follow up with potential buyers. Sales are often lost because of no tracking or followup so the buyer loses interest.
4. What referral networks do you use for out-of-area buyers?
Not every potential buyer lives in your area currently. There's always a huge market for those looking to relocate and the listing agent needs to have the connections and marketing to access those resources. Otherwise, there's a huge part of the potential pie that has no idea your home is for sale.
5. Are you a solo agent? Do you share personnel?
A very simple question yet probably the most important. A real estate transaction is a massive undertaking with several steps that have to be attended to individually. A solo agent or someone that shares personnel can't provide you the laser-focus on each area that a dedicated team of specialists can. This can lead to longer list times and missed sales.
6. Do you have full-time showing partners that can show my home at the drop of a dime?
Home viewings happen when the buyer wants them to. Potential buyers have very tight schedules, as well, so they may not be able to provide timely notice that they're interested, but the important thing is THEY'RE INTERESTED.
Make sure the listing agent has a specialist in place that can show your home at a moment's notice. Once you have a buyer's interest, you have to reel them in quickly before your neighbors do.
7. Do you provide feedback received from buyers who viewed our home?
Now that the buyer has shown interest and a viewing has been scheduled, something is still missing in the equation. Have YOU been notified of the viewing and subsequent feedback? This way you can make any changes the buyer is requesting or simply answer questions they may have. This starts the dialog and hopefully negotiations soon follow.
8. Does your listing agreement have an "easy exit" feature?
In the event you're not satisfied or you feel like you've been sold the proverbial jar of rocks mentioned earlier, you'll want the peace of mind knowing you can get out of that dungeon. An agent that prides themselves on delivering on promises will have no problem with giving you an exit clause as they're confident you won't ever need to exercise it.
9. Do you also provide interior pictures, virtual tours, brochures, and floor plans to buyers?
The average agent will stick a sign in the yard, take a few pictures of the exterior, and assume that's going to sell the home. Today's buyers have a wealth of information at their fingertips and shortchanging them like this makes them skeptical that you may be hiding something.
The listing agent should have a formal staging plan for viewing and a robust picture/video/information plan for each area of the home inside and out. The more, the better.
10. Do you prospect daily for buyers? Using what methods?
Well, do they? Any agent worth their name has not only conducted reputable business up to this point, but they also have clients (past and present) that can provide testimony to their efforts and successes. A listing agent that can't provide references is basically holding up an LED sign that says "run away as fast as you can."
How Do Our Answers Hold Up?
Remember: this is an interview for a hiring. Don't be afraid to get "behind the smile" of the agent and really dig in. Not doing so can potentially cost you thousands of dollars and some pretty severe stress headaches.