The listing price of a home makes a lot more difference than you may realize. Your home is your largest asset, and while it can certainly be enticing to sign with the real estate agent who gives you the highest estimated price, agents promising the sun and moon by artificially over-pricing is a huge issue that I’m seeing more and more often.
For example, I found out yesterday I lost a listing because another agent said the house is worth $30,000 (16%) more than what the surrounding comparable sales data supports. $30,000!!
A price difference this huge is almost certainly due to either 1) the agent asking the owner what he or she thinks their house is worth and/or 2) artificially inflating the home’s value just to get the listing. Either tactic is at worst unethical and at best questionable professionalism. If you’re laying on the operating table do you really want the surgeon asking your opinion of how best to handle things?
Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens all too frequently because sellers don’t do their homework (no pun intended) when finding someone to sell their largest asset. Here are some tips on how to make sure you match up with the right agent to sell your most valuable asset.
Interview multiple professionals
Interview multiple people (and tell them that’s what you’re doing). Is he/she a real estate agent or a REALTOR? Among other things, an important distinction between the two is that only REALTORs are regulated by a professional code of ethics.
Look on the 3 or 4 major real estate websites at how many transactions he/she has closed. What is their level of experience? Are the past sales in areas and price points similar to your own home?
Pay close attention to body language and verbal comments as they tour your home. Are you being told what you *want* to hear or what you *need* to hear? (The difference here can mean thousands of dollars into or out of your wallet). A seasoned and professional agent will not be afraid to call out the negatives about your home right along side the positives. Having blinders on to the truth about your home can end up being detrimental to your efforts in many ways.
Read client reviews thoroughly
Read every review you can find online. What is the consensus among this person’s past clients? Are you seeing a consistent theme of good communication skills, timeliness, solid negotiating abilities, and other indicators of a good agent?
Don’t just read the bad reviews either… the good ones are just as important in painting the entire picture of what you can expect if you select this person to sell your home.
Read the market analysis… every page!
Thoroughly read everything he/she gives you at the listing appointment, even if it makes your head spin a little. Objectively ask yourself if the information being presented passes the common sense test.
Are the comps similar to your home (in terms of bedrooms, square footage, location, etc)? Like any other report, data can be used to shape the story the agent wants to tell. If they are comparing homes outside the neighborhood (if you live in a subdivision) or outside of a 1 mile radius, if they are having to make a lot of adjustments to the home’s features, or if the comps are a lot newer than your own, it could be a clue the agent is trying to bend the data to artificially lift the value in order to impress you.
Ask as many questions as you can. Listen to the answers closely. If it feels like they’re reading from a script, throw a couple sidewinders in just for fun.
How do they handle surprises? The ability to answer unexpected questions is one good indicator of how much industry knowledge they really possess and how much experience they truly have. If an agent clunks and stumbles their way through a conversation, it could be because they aren’t as prepared or possibly because they don’t have the level of experience with your particular area as they are trying to make it seem.
Another strategy if you’re still not sure about an agent is to ask for recent clients’ contact information so you can speak with them directly. Online reviews can sometimes be manipulated, but a real-time phone conversation with a bona fide former client can easily and quickly clear up questions.
When in doubt, keep digging before you make a decision.
Again, your home is likely your most valuable asset and who you choose to help you sell it is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your entire life. Do everything you can to make sure you won’t regret it!