Here are fourteen questions you can ask prospective listing agents. The answers to these questions should tell you how professional the agent is compared to others in the field.
1) Are you a full-time real estate professional? Real estate is a full-time job.
2) How much real estate experience do you have? 7, 10 years or more is enough to have encountered most of the more complex real estate transactions.
3) Do you have more than a high-school education? Real Estate is complex and you want to be sure that your agent has the skills required to do the best job.
4) How has the way you do business changed over the past five-ten years? An agent who does not mention increasing use of technological tools, target marketing and ongoing training opportunities is probably not keeping up.
5) How many properties did you sell last year? How many properties have you sold within the past 6 to 12 months? 80% of agents have only 6-8 transactions per year. A good real estate consultant should have 10-12 at a minimum.
6) Do you have references I can call and what percentage of business is from referrals? If there are no references, beware! Agents should be able to produce a list for you of at least a dozen clients they have worked with, not just a selected few. Referrals are an agent's lifeline in this business and a high percentage of referrals indicates a consultant who is serving his clients needs in an exceptional manner.
7) In what ways does the agent market properties to prospects? Listen for specifics. What systems does the agent have in place?
8) What is your average market time vs. the area average market time? Can the agent produce written proof of each?
9) What is your asking vs. sales price ratio? Some agents will promise anything to get you to sign a listing. You should not list with the highest bidder. List with a marketing leader who will negotiate hard for you and achieve the highest sales price as opposed to the highest asking price.
10) Do you base the marketing price of our home on sold listing prices or current listing prices to establish a realistic selling price? You can list your home at any price, but your property is worth only as much as a buyer is willing to pay - this is the definition of market value. Correctly priced properties sell faster and at a higher price. Your home will be subject to an appraisal by the buyers lender. The appraiser is only able to look at comparables from the past 6 month's sales of like properties. If the home does not appraise, you must come down in price. Look at it from the buyers view... would you purchase a home for an amount over the appraised value?
11) Do you have professional looking printed materials prepared for my home and do you send them to other real estate agents in the area? Advertisements don't sell homes; people do. Your agent should keep your property in view of as many agents as possible at all times. Not just in their own office, but agents who have listed or sold property in your area in the past 3 years. Agents must network with other agents at all times and with all brokers to get your home sold.
12) What is your office's market share? Any broker can claim to be the largest based on different statistics. Beware of franchise companies who use the entire corporations' numbers to inflate their individually owned office's sales figures.
13) Will you reduce your commission rate? If an agent is willing to reduce the commission, they may also be willing to reduce services and reduce their commitment to service. This could cost thousands of your dollars. You will also get fewer showings from agents because agents work on a commission basis and may choose not to show homes with a reduced commission rate. Would you work for less if you had experience, a commitment to your career and a good track record for service and results?
14) Do you have a team to see that no details are overlooked? The agent's job is to be listing, marketing, negotiating, and selling. Not to be stuck in the office prospecting, making copies, and shuffling paper.