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The BIG Questions in Real Estate

When I List My Home for Sale, What’s My Market, Really? What Are My Obstacles? How Do I Decide Whether My Realtor and I Are a Good Match? Part I

If you’re like most people, when you decide you want to move, you really want to move. Motives can run the gamut from “I got a new job” to “We’re having a baby” to “It’s time to retire.” But, whatever the reason, that motivation usually hits pretty fast. Then, the second thought is usually, “… and we need to sell this place for a whole bunch of money.”

It’s understandable to want to sell your home for as much money as possible, and as quickly as you can. But those sentiments don’t really take into account the fact that your home, and the real estate it sits upon, is a potential asset for somebody else. It’s in a market which encompasses both value and obstacles.

So, where do I start?

Thankfully, there’s a kind of person whose job it is to figure all this out for us. It’s called a Realtor. That part is pretty obvious. What’s less obvious is how to pick a good one, because much of the literature about how to pick a good Realtor is written by the Realtor who is asking you for your business.

In vetting a Realtor, great questions to ask are:

  • What do you view as my biggest competition in selling?

This is where you find out if all they know is what they looked up in the MLS. An agent active in your market will know all the new construction in the area, and they will have seen your neighboring properties (your competition.)

  • What do you view as my biggest obstacle in selling?

This should be an answer about your neighborhood, your market, and your property. If they say, “I just need to put it on the MLS,” that’s not likely to be true. You want an agent with the experience to see your obstacles before they even start to show up.

  • What is your availability?

If they say they are a part-time agent, or that they have another job, feel free to move along. Agents who work in teams can be ideal. Even if you don’t always have your primary contact point, you always have somebody.

One really great test is to call the agent early on a Saturday morning, before you ever meet with them, and see if they answer their phone. Then, call them the morning of your appointment to confirm your appointment. Again, if they answer their phone both times, they’re ahead of the pack.

  • What do I need to do to get my property ready to sell?

Now, this may get personal. Don’t be offended if your Realtor tells you something that you don’t want to hear. In fact, if all your agent has for you is ‘sunshine and rainbows,’ I wouldn’t necessarily trust them. Removing smells and holes in walls and anything personal is essential to selling.

A good Realtor will help you keep it professional, while pointing out what makes your property a weak offer in comparison to your neighbors. For example, your buyer does not need a list of all the items you’ve ever installed in the house.

Sometimes working with honesty and integrity means you have to suck it up and take your lumps from the best agent, the one who is telling you the truth.’Sunshine and Rainbows’ agent isn’t going to be so much fun in a year when you still haven’t moved.

  • What are you going to do besides putting the property in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service)?

Every Realtor has a different answer here. There really is not just one good answer, but it better be something. Holding a million open houses, sending fliers across the community, calling all your neighbors, knocking on doors, agent opens, and print advertising are all good options.

  • How many properties have you sold in this market in the past 6 months?

A good answer is at least 1 per month. And make sure that they’re not taking credit for properties sold by their company, rather than properties they have sold personally.

Taking credit for their company’s sales is not illegal, or a violation of the Realtor Code of Ethics. But, if the company may have some other great agent who is selling all over your area, that’s the person with whom you should be speaking.


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