Why a Successful Home Sale Hinges on the Agent's Expertise

Why a Successful Home Sale Hinges on the Agent's Expertise

If you're getting ready to sell your home, finding a seller agent should be at the top of your to-do list. But just what is a seller agent? You might have a vague mental image of someone who plants an "Open House" on the corner of the block and shows potential buyers around your home, but there's plenty more to it.

Here's an overview of what a seller agent does, how critical the agent is to your sale, and how to find the right agent for you.

How listing agents help you price your home

The best way to get a handle on your home's likely sale price is to look at sale prices of similarly sized homes in your neighborhood that have sold recently — these are known as “comparable sales" or “comps." For example, if a similarly aged condo near yours with equivalent square footage, number of bedrooms, and number of bathrooms, sold for $630,000 within the past three months, you can bet your own price will be close to that figure.

For another possible comparable value, several websites offer automated property valuation calculators. All you do is type in your address, and the calculator estimates your home price based on an algorithm that factors in comps in your area. Valuation Calculators are generally much less accurate than a real estate agent who is specialized in your neighbourhood, but they will provide a starting point.

You will need your Realtor to visit your home, so she can factor in your home's unique strengths and weaknesses along with comps to come to a better estimate. Ask your agent to explain how they came up with the exact amount and ask to see all the comps in your area yourself and which ones they thought were most like your home. Once you’re able to review over her analysis, you’ll feel much more comfortable with the proposed list price. You shouldn’t have to blindly follow your agent; they should be bringing you into their circle of trust.

How seller agents help you sell your home

After you determine an asking price, a listing agent should provide you with a comprehensive marketing plan detailing how she'll get your property sold. This plan should include the following:

  • Recommendations for home improvements and home staging, if necessary. These will cost time and money, but they will more than pay for themselves.

  • Hiring a photographer who will highlight your home's best features.

  • Advertising your home on the multiple listing service (MLS) system which includes publishing to Realtor.ca so home buyers and their agents can view your property and decide if they'd like to come visit for a closer look.

  • Other traditional and online advertising.

  • A schedule of open houses.

  • A plan for coordinating showings with prospective buyers.

How seller agents negotiate with buyers

Once you get an offer on your home, it's the seller agent's job to present it to you along with information about other recent sales in the neighbourhood and advise you if it is reasonable and if you have room for negotiation. For instance, if you get an offer way below your asking price, your gut reaction may be to refuse and be offended by the low-ball offer, but your agent might be able to negotiate that price up to a decent level or find other ways to sweeten the deal like a faster closing date or waived conditions. Looking beyond the sticker price and making some compromises can actually save you tens of thousands of dollars.

How to choose an agent

If you're looking for an agent, you need someone specialized in your neighbourhood. Don't just move forward with the first agent you meet. Choose a few and ask them some questions to assess whether they're right for you.

Here are some questions to ask a prospective agent:

  • How many homes have you sold in this neighbourhood, and how long did it take?

  • How many houses, townhomes, and condos have you sold recently?

  • Do you have advice for me about the condition of my home, and what could be improved to receive a higher sales price?

  • How is your marketing plan unique?

  • Can you recommend contractors, photographers, moving companies, etc.?

  • How often should I expect you to touch base with me?

  • Are you planning any vacations, and if so, who will be your back-up?

Since every agent is a unique individual with varying experience, sales philosophies, and values, you may not work well with just anyone. You need to find an agent who will work well with you and has a complementary working style.

Mortgage Sandbox has developed a Match Finder app as a new and revolutionary way to find a real estate agent. It matches home buyers and sellers with local, pre-screened real estate agents and mortgage brokers based on aligned values. We believe aligned values lead to better working relationships and a more successful home buying and selling experience.

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