How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home
Once you've decided that it’s time to sell your home, you need a competent and trusted advisor at your side.
Here we'll teach you how to find the most essential partner in completing the sale of the most valuable asset you own. Since every agent is a unique individual with varying experience, sales philosophies, and values, you may not work well with the first one that crosses your path. You need to find an agent who will work well with you and has a complementary working style. Here's how to find a real estate agent who's right for you.
Ask for a couple of referrals, but take them with a grain of salt
There are a lot of agents out there. So, how do you choose? Go ahead and ask your friends for referrals, but don't fall into the trap of picking an agent purely because of great reviews. First of all, your friend is likely to be recommending them based on a single purchase or sale. Plus, the old mantra of location, location, location applies to real estate agents as much as homes.
You want an agent who is very familiar with your neighbourhood, says Alaina Burnett, a Realtor specializing in the Brentwood neighbourhood of Burnaby, BC. The reason is simple: If they’ve specialized in the neighbourhood, they’ll be familiar with recent sales, and they’ll know how to market your home there.
So, a better question to ask your friends than “Know any real estate agents?" is, “Know a real estate agent who knows my neighbourhood really well?"
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Test their responsiveness
Once you have some potential agents, email them or call their office, then sit back and wait. This is your first test of a key component: how responsive will your agent be? Ideally, you should get a call back that same day.
“If it takes longer than four business hours without a decent explanation, I would be cautious,” says Alex Mackenzie, a North Vancouver agent specializing in the Lonsdale area. Imagine if you have competing offers for your home, or if there’s a problem with the buyer’s home inspection? You don't want to be left in limbo by your agent. You’ll want to be kept in the loop.
Probe their experience
Your initial conversation with a prospective listing agent should be like any job interview: Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions right off the bat. A good agent should know market trends and any dancing around the numbers could be a red flag. According to Mackenzie, you should ask the following:
· How many homes have you sold? Aim for agents with at least six sales under their belt. Enough deals to learn the ropes and refine their skills. Don’t ask how many years they’ve been in business. Time (on the job) does not mean they produce results. A new agent with six sales to their name is better than an agent with two sales over two years. Look for agents with 10 to 20 sales in a year. Enough to have a feel for the market but not so many that they don’t need your business.
· What types of homes have you sold? You want someone who is familiar with the type of property you’re selling. Is it an apartment, a townhome, or a house? They are very different types of homes, and buyers will be looking at very different features.
Assess their marketing skills
Everyone knows that to sell a house quickly (and get the best value), you need to reach as many buyers as possible. And the way to assess an agent's ability to do that is to ask these questions:
· How will you market my home? An agent should be using the Multiple Listing Service, Realtor.ca, and other tools to get exposure for your home.
· How will you use social media? They should use ads on Facebook and Instagram. Also, how many followers do they have on social media?
· What offline marketing do you use? While most marketing is done online now, your agent should still make use of tried-and-true methods such as fliers, yard signs, and brochures, especially at an open house. Ask for sample materials from another one of their listings.
· How much will you spend on staging and advertising? Get a solid dollar figure. Advertising costs vary widely by area, but agents should consistently spend a portion of their business expenses on advertising. By asking for a set amount, you'll know if they're doing that or not.
Don’t shoot for cheap
Finally, the most inexpensive agent is unlikely the best one for you. You would never go to a car dealership and ask for the cheapest car on the lot. You don’t want cheap, but you do want good value for your money. While there are generally accepted rates of commission, some agents may be open to negotiating a slightly lower commission. In truth, if they’re good at what they do, they will be confident enough in their abilities to stand by their commission rates, so don’t expect much of a break on the commission. So, when you’re talking terms, ask the agent if they’ll work on a discount. If they give up too much commission too easily, that might be a red flag.
Focus on the big picture. When the agent helps you negotiate with a buyer, the price will shift by tens of thousands of dollars. You don’t want to have an agent who is not fully invested in your interests because you squeezed an extra 0.25% out of their commission. On top of that, if the agent can't even negotiate to protect their own commission, how likely will they be able to defend your selling price?