According to data from the National Association of REALTORS®, most home sellers hire the first real estate agent they meet.
Now, that might not necessarily be a bad idea if you happen to meet a great agent right out of the gate, but selling your home is a big move, and it's important to choose your listing agent carefully.
To find the best agent for the job, you need to ask questions — and not just "how much will you get for the property?" and "what will the commission be?" Include these questions during the interview process:
- What are your credentials?
A real estate agent should have a state license and belong to the local real estate trade association. You may also find someone who is a licensed REALTOR® (a member of the National Association of REALTORS®), which requires additional training and a strict code of ethics.
- Do you specialize in my neighborhood?
Local expertise is crucial. Your agent needs to have in-depth experience in your local real estate market, including inside knowledge about any upcoming developments that might affect the value of your home.
- How many homes have you sold in the last year?
Past performance doesn't always ensure a quick sale, but you'll be able to put your mind at ease knowing that your agent has a track record of success. Ask about how much these homes sold for, so you know that your agent has experience selling homes in your price range.
- How do you determine the listing price?
The "money talk" is the make-or-break conversation for many home sellers. It's important that your agent can help you land on a listing price that you feel good about but is also appropriate for the market. An underpriced home doesn't give you the profit you deserve, but an overpriced home could end up languishing on the market. Be sure you understand how the agent arrives at a price for your home.
- What's your sales plan?
Your agent should have a plan laid out for marketing your home. Mailers, listing services, open houses, and social media are all important.
- What will it cost me to sell my home?
From broker's commission to closing fees, there are a number of costs that can really add up when you're selling your home. Find out what it will cost, and compare from one agent to the next.
- Will I be working with you directly?
There's a balancing act between working with a specific agent and a team of agents. Either way, you'll want to know for sure whether you'll be working with one specific agent or a member of the agent's team. It's also important to know how you will be communicating with your agent.
- How long will it take to sell?
No agent can say exactly how fast any home will sell. The national average is 65 days, but this depends on a variety of factors.
Your goal should be to an agent with whom you are confident and comfortable with and who can sell your home quickly and at the right price.