It’s safe to say that the real estate market hasn’t been easy these past few years. Home sales are down nationwide and median home prices have also been on a downward spiral, primarily due to all the foreclosures and short sales. That said, homes are still selling and at every price range so how do you choose the best real estate agent to sell your home in a down market?
The first thing you have to realize is that all Realtors are not created equal. There is a big difference between a full time agent who is the primary bread winner in their family and a part time agent that keeps their license so they can sell 3 homes a year and earn some extra cash. Incidentally, a large number of real estate agents fall into this second group and everyone of us has at least one friend in this category.
Recommendation #1 – When choosing an agent is make sure you choose one who is full time and has been making a living in real estate for many years versus part time agent who is in it for extra cash.
Another way that real estate agent are not created equal is in how they tend to focus their business. There are three types of Realtors with regards to this :
- Generalist – The most common type of agent who helps people both buy and sell homes. Not all of these agents are rock stars at selling homes so you will have to interview and choose your Realtor carefully.
- Listing Focused – This agent is more focused on helping homeowners sell their homes. Some listing agents are so focused, they will refer their buyer leads to another agent. It stands to reason that a real estate agent who focuses on selling homes would be better at it than a generalist or buyers agent. Not always true, see questions to ask an agent before listing your home below.
- Buyers Agent focused – This type of agent prefers to spend more of their time showing people homes and helping them through the home purchase process. Many true buyers agents will also refer a listing lead to another agent.
Recommendation #2 – When possible, sell your home with an agent who is more focused and selling homes than helping people find and purchase them. (click here to see a national directory of real estate agents sortable by buying agent or selling agent)
Even when you have narrowed your search to a handful of listings agents you are considering to list and sell your home, you still need a process for sorting them out and uncovering which Realtor will be the best choice. Here are a few questions that can help you identify and choose the best agent to sell your home:
- What percentage of your business is listings?
- How many listings did you have last year?
- Did all your listings sell?
- How many of your listing clients fired you in the past year?
- What was the average number of days on market for your listings?
- How many of your listings sold for original list price?
- For the listings you sold below listing price, what was the average price reduction as a percent?
I think the most important question to ask an agent before you list with them is:
Recommendation #3 – Ask “What is your competitive advantage as a listing agent?”
What you are looking for here is what they will do for you beyond the basic 4 things all agents will do when listings your home. This is the minimum that you can expect and clearly not enough in today’s tough real estate market;
- Put a sign in your yard
- Place your home on the MLS
- Hold an open house
- Share your listing with the other agents in the office during a weekly meeting.
The biggest thing I would want to know today is how they leverage the Internet to help me sell my home. Here are some things to look for in an agent:
- Do they have their own website?
- Do they have a blog?
- How much traffic does their website and blog get each month?
- What social media channels are they active on? (Read Top 5 Reasons Realtors Should Participate in Social Media)
- What other websites will they put your property on? (See Top 6 Real Estate Websites for more info)
- Do they do anything with pay-per-click advertising to capture potential buyers for their listings?
The idea here is to find a listing agent who is experienced, focused and has a track record of selling homes using both traditional and Internet marketing skills. This will give you the greatest chance of selling your home in a reasonable amount of time.
Fell free to leave a comment below if you think of anything I missed or you want to share a story about a recent home selling experience.