You’ve decided to sell your home, that’s great! Now what? It’s time to set up appointments with local Realtors and interview them. That’s right, interview them! You don’t want to list your home with just anyone. It’s important to ask very specific and detailed questions to ascertain if the Realtor in front of you shares your motivation, is educated and has the tools they need to successfully market your home.
If you don’t already have a Realtor you trust I strongly suggest meeting a potential Listing Agent in person if possible. You want to be able to look them in the eye when they answer your questions. Some things to keep an eye out for during the appointment:
- How is the Realtor dressed for your initial meeting? It’s important to show up to any appointment in professional attire. First impressions are lasting ones!
- Were they on time for your appointment? You only want to consider professionals that manage their time effectively and take your time seriously.
- Did they answer all your questions clearly? Any Realtor you are interviewing should have answers to ALL the questions you ask. If they struggle to give you information, it may be a red flag so proceed with caution. One question can trip up even the best Realtor if they are having an “off moment” but if the person you are interviewing is struggling to answer basic questions it may be a sign that they are not prepared to handle the task at hand.
- Are they asking you questions? Top Producing Agents will be interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. They want to determine your motivation and make sure you are willing to complete the necessary tasks to get your home sold asap.
- Did they take notes? A seasoned vet will jot down important information like dates that need to be remembered, your motivation (why you are selling) and personal information you offer during the interview that will make the experience a more one on one, human interaction. We like to send birthday cards, for example.
- Does the Realtor make and maintain eye contact? This is a personal/professional preference. I feel more confident in a person who can make and maintain eye contact, especially in business. Some people also believe that a person who makes eye contact is more sure of themself which is often a good indicator of their ability to handle themselves in business dealings.
Now that you know what to look for, what do you ask? Below are a few sample questions you can use to help guide the interview.
- Are you a full or part-time Realtor? This is very important, here’s why- with a part-time Realtor you should expect to receive part-time service. This may not be the best option if you like to be able to reach your realtor and expect answers back in the same business day. It can also affect how quickly they get back to outside agents trying to present offers. Every situation is different, but rule of thumb is, go with a full-time agent and expect full-time service!
- How many homes have sold in my township in the past year? Why is this important you ask? 1) because if they know the answer, they know their stuff! Remember, you are trying to ascertain which Realtor is the cream of the crop. Someone who dominates that market should know these answers because they keep a finger on the pulse of their area. 2) That Realtor did their homework before they met with you. So, even if they didn’t know off-hand, they made sure to do their research before they came to your home. Points for being prepared!
- What is your strategic marketing plan? This is vital, in this answer lies how well they market their inventory (i.e. your home). You want to make sure your Realtor, whom ever you choose, knows their stuff and markets your home in many ways. The Galligan Team, for example, markets our inventory on over 350 websites, conducts open houses when appropriate and makes sure our Teammates know our inventory, so they can suggest it to clients that are looking at similar homes. Don’t make exceptions here, this is the one place to hold strong. You need a Realtor that understands the power of exposure!
- How often will you (or your team) update me during the process? You should hear from your Realtor bi-weekly at the minimum. They should be reaching out with feedback updates, activity reports and suggestions based on the feedback being received. If your home is in a heavily shopped area, expect more updates (i.e. once a week). You should know how often your home is being seen, by whom and what the feedback is. This will help identify any problems early on such as a needed price reduction, if the home needs some cosmetic updating based on potential buyer feedback etc. In Real Estate it’s important to fix problems fast! The Galligan Team utilizes a service called ShowingTime which automatically emails our clients a copy of ALL the feedback we receive from other Agents, confirms appointments with Realtors per the instructions etc. If your Realtor doesn’t use a service such as this, find out how they track your homes activity and feedback and how they share it with their clients.
- Who answers calls when potential buyers or other Agents call in about my listing? This will help you identify how many hands are on-deck. One Realtor can only do so many things in a day. While they are out in the field or on a day off, who fields these calls and how familiar are they with my listing if they need to answer questions? Everyone on The Galligan Team is a Realtor which means whoever picks up the phone is ready, willing and licensed to speak about Real Estate. Not all teams are created equally, find out now before it’s an issue later.
- After we sign the Listing Contract, who will I be hearing from/who should I call if I have questions? It’s best to put all your cards on the table before you sign any contract. If that Realtor has an assistant or a transaction coordinator, find out now and ask who to contact if you have questions. For example, The Galligan Team has a full-time Marketing Director, a Listings Manager, a Buyer Specialist, a Listing Specialist, a Transaction Coordinator and Operations Management. Every person covers their own base to make sure the ball keeps moving in the right direction and if there is a problem it’s all hands-on-deck! With a “solo agent” it’s one person, responsible for everything, for all their clients. It’s important to know what’s what on the front end and decide based on your expectations and comfort level. There are pros and cons to both scenarios. Do your research! (see this, this, and this to read up on the differences if you’re not sure)
- How do you arrive at a listing price? This is a combination of several factors. We touched on why it’s important to ask about the home sales in your township and here is where that information plays in. Based on those numbers, a seasoned Realtor will look at that data and find the ‘sweet spot” for comps in your township. This means, of the homes that closed what price range saw the most action, if there was little movement it may indicate why. They should rely heavily on comps. (Comps are comparable homes in your area). They will look to see what comps sold for in the past 6 months to a year in your township. If you name a price and they say yes, find out why. If it doesn’t add up against the data suggested above, that may indicate a weakness. If your Realtor can’t handle you and explain why your price is too much one way or the other based on data, how well do you think they will represent you at the negotiating table? You want strong representation otherwise opposing Realtors will wipe the floor with your Realtor. This may mean that you list at a lower price, but it’s better to list a home to sell rather than list it to sit. Over pricing your home doesn’t do you any favors. Remember to keep in mind, when doing a home search as a potential buyer, if your home is overpriced by 10 or 20 plus thousand you automatically cancel out an entire buyer-pool because they aren’t looking that much outside their approval amount. Settle on a number that is in line with the comps and hold firm during negotiations. Listing at the right price is crucial to selling your home quickly.
- What is your average number of days for a house on the market? Off the top, this won’t make a ton of sense but after you meet with a few agents it will help level the playing field on decision day. Keep in mind every market is different. You want to go with a Realtor whose number is around the 90-day mark max (give or take).
- What was your average list-price to sale-price ratio in the past year? The answer to this question will tell you a few things 1) strong or weak negotiating skills- the higher the ratios, the stronger the negotiator. 2) knows the market- their ratio indicates working knowledge of the market he/she serves because they listed the home in-line with that areas “sweet spot”. This also shows that the Realtor in front of you doesn’t cut corners and has an honest professional dialogue with their clients and educates them, they don’t just tell them what they want to hear. Often, Realtors struggle to tell potential clients “no” when they demand an unrealistic purchase price for their home. They worry about losing the contract rather than being secure in their professional knowledge and experience. Part of the job description as a Realtor is having uncomfortable conversations about finances and with that comes the responsibility of educating clients about what’s realistic based on data rather than feelings.
- Who are you affiliated with? Top Agents have several professionals they work with to help their clients every step of the way. This means they foster relationships with mortgage brokers, contractors, title companies etc. and can recommend their services should you need them.
Bonus- Still torn? Add this question as a possible tie-breaker: What are your community ties? I love this question because it gives you a sneak peek into what’s important to your Realtor. Which charitable organizations do they support or donate their time too? I like supporting businesses that give back, so this is a question I always ask! I think it also speaks to who they are on a human level. Yes, money is important (obviously) but is it the only thing? No! A Realtor with community ties is less likely to cut corners or burn bridges because there is too much at stake and they care about the community in which they serve.
I hope you found this helpful. If you use these questions while in search of your dream Realtor let me know how it went! Have anything to add, comment below. I’d love to hear your feedback.
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