Selling a home is not something you do regularly, and the times, they are a changin’. Here are guidelines that will help assure that you choose the best real estate agent to sell what may be the biggest financial investment of your life.
But first, we’ll chat about “her/she” and “him/he” because using “they/them” is wimping out (strictly speaking) of using proper grammar, and if there’s one characteristic you want in your broker it’s strength and the courage of her convictions! So, “his” refers to one male. “Her” refers to one female. “Their” refers to more than one of them. And since female Realtors outnumber the men, let’s go with the feminine gender.
To begin, find some Realtors to interview. Observe who seems to sell the most homes in your neighborhood because she will be knowledgeable about your market area and probably has some insider skinny on past sales. She’s also managed to get repeat business there which wouldn’t likely happen if she weren’t doing a good job. In the absence of a neighborhood specialist, ask other professionals and friends if they know a good Realtor in your town.
Set up appointments with two or three agents. They will send you pre-interview literature, but remember: high gloss does not necessarily equate with high performance. Here are criteria for selecting your agent:
- Some Realtors call themselves the neighborhood specialist and haven’t sold many (or any) homes there. By getting references, you can determine how “specialized” they are.
- Years in the business is important, but more important is how engaged they are. An agent with five years’ experience may be more on her game than one who has been dabbling for 25 years.
- Sales volume. Selling eight to ten homes a year is sufficient to stay current in the market, but selling 50 may mean that the client will just be a number. Gauge how engaged with you she’ll be. If you want to work with her alone and not with a team of her associates, a “top producer” may not be your best choice.
- Dual agency. If an agent does not volunteer the information that she will only represent you and not both you and the buyer in your sale, ask. Dual agency compromises her effectiveness in negotiating top dollar and minimum concessions for you.
- Real estate commission. The value of your agent should be measured in how high a net price she can negotiate for you and how stress-free the transaction will be. These elements may not be evident until you actually close escrow, so choose carefully. Saving one or two percent on a $500,000 sale can cost you thousands more in hiccups.
- Do you like the agent? You will become like family…or not. Be sure you enjoy talking to her and that she communicates often and well.
There are many considerations when choosing a listing agent. But your last question of the agent should be, “Why should I hire you?”
 Give strong consideration to hiring a broker vs. an agent because brokers often have more experience and education.