Choosing a real estate agent is the first and one of the most important steps in the home selling process. We’ve included the following tips from the National Association of REALTORS®, the world’s largest professional trade association, to provide you advice straight from the experts.
How to Choose a REALTOR®
As a prerequisite to selling real estate, a person must be licensed by the state in which they work, either as an agent/salesperson or as a broker. Before a license is issued, minimum standards for education, examinations and experience, which are determined on a state by state basis, must be met. After receiving a real estate license, most agents go on to join their local board or association of REALTORS® and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the world's largest professional trade association. They can then call themselves REALTORS®.
An Agent's Obligations
An agent is bound by certain legal obligations. Traditionally, these common-law obligations are to:
- Put the client's interests above anyone else's
- Keep the client's information confidential
- Obey the client's lawful instructions
- Report to the client anything that would be useful
- Account to the client for any money involved
NOTE: A REALTOR® is held to an even higher standard of conduct under the NAR's Code of Ethics. In recent years, state laws have been passed setting up various duties for different types of agents. As you start working with a REALTOR®, ask for a clear explanation of your state's current regulations, so that you will know where you stand on these important matters.
How To Evaluate an Agent
There are certain questions you should ask when evaluating a potential agent.
- Do you belong to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and/or a reliable online home buyer's search service? (Multiple Listing Services are cooperative information networks of REALTORS® that provide descriptions of most of the houses for sale in a particular region. Your agent may have limited or no access to the local MLS if he/she is not a member of the local association of REALTORS®.)
- Is real estate your full-time career?
- What real estate designations do you hold?
- Which party are you representing – the seller or the buyer? (This discussion is supposed to occur early on, at "first serious contact" with you. The agent should discuss your state's particular definitions of agency, so you'll know where you stand.)
- In exchange for your commitment, how will you help me accomplish my goals?
For more information on choosing a REALTOR in your neighborhood visit realtor.com
Determining a Listing Price
Before the “For Sale” sign goes up, there are some things you should consider and some steps you can take to position your home to attract qualified, prospective buyers.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Rely on your agent to help set a selling price – Setting your home's selling price is an art form and it's your agent who knows the local canvas. It's the single most important factor to consider when selling, so ensuring the price is just right can mean the difference between a relatively quick sale and months' long ordeal. Pricing is about supply and demand, and there's nobody who understands your local market better than an agent.
Ask your agent to perform a market analysis – A market analysis takes into consideration the comparable (comps) prices of current homes on the market (your competitors) along with recently sold homes in the past six to eight months with similar square footage. Potential buyers will also be considering these comparable figures when they look at your home or formulate an offer, so give the information careful consideration.
Research comparable homes – Your real estate professional will also pull comparable homes sold along with a listing history that can help determine the best pricing. With enough comps, you can start to determine the ratios of listing price to actual selling price.
Determine What Items Will Be Conveyed With the Home
From window treatments to light fixtures, appliances to attached shelving—these are items that can be conveyed in the sale of your home. Discuss with your agent what will and will not be part of the property sale. Then, if you have specialty appliances or custom window treatments, you can specify these items will not be included. If possible, remove these items before listing the home to avoid any confusion later.
What Are the Promotional Plans for Your Home?
Ask your agent to hold an open house to introduce your home to fellow realtors.
Motivated sellers need an equally motivated and competitive marketing plan.
Make sure your home is listed in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Nearly all brokerage offices are members of the MLS, a list of real estate available from hundreds of members across the country. It's this power in numbers that can give your property the most exposure to potential buyers. Each property receives its own unique number along with property details, which are then listed in the MLS website. Buyers and other real estate brokers or agents can search by MLS number, property details, and virtually all other criteria.
Review your agent's write-up of your property. Is there something that sets your home apart from others? Be sure to emphasize that and any other amenities that make your home unique.