Selling your home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make. If you are selling your home for the first or second time, and haven’t been in the market for a while, you might be wondering what to look for when it comes time to choose a listing agent.
This is the largest asset most people own. This is going to be your biggest sale ever. It’s crucial that you have the best representation possible if you want to sell your home quickly.
It can be overwhelming to choose the right agent, with more than 1.5 million real estate agents working in the U.S. We’ve taken the best advice from real estate experts to create this 10-step guide on how to choose your ideal agent.
1. Compare real estate agents online
Online resources are plentiful for agents research. How can you be sure you are choosing the best agent?
Well, today there are many places to look for online reviews and testimonials. From local real estate websites to Google and more, you have a bunch of options to choose from.
Here are some things to look for as you are choosing your real estate agent:
- Home sales volume in your price range
- High ratio of sale price to list price
- Lower than average days of market
- Great reviews from previous clients
After you have selected a few online agents, check out their websites and social media pages, as well as reviews, listings of properties, etc. to learn how they market themselves professionally. You can also get a better idea of their personalities by checking out their online presence. It will also show you if they are using the latest technology and trends.
Google the name of each agent and read any additional reviews you can find. Note which positive qualities have been mentioned over and over again, as well as how the agent has responded to any negative comments.
2. Get referrals from trusted sources
In a survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors in 2022, it was found that 36% of home sellers got their agent from family or friends. Another 27% stayed with an agent who they previously used to sell or buy a house.
Do you have any friends, family members, or colleagues that recently sold their home with an agent? Do you know anyone in your social network who has recently sold their house? You can get a recommendation from someone who has worked with the agent you have listed.
3. Keep an eye out for any red flags
It’s important to be able to recognize any warning signs before you choose an agent. Be on the lookout for these signs that indicate a subpar agent.
Limited sales experience or vague outcomes
Select a real-estate agent who has at least a few years’ experience in the field and has completed a number of transactions each year that are relevant to your locality.
Some experts say that you should look for an agent or a real estate team who are doing at least one transaction per week. That shows a commitment to the real estate business. They will have staff and systems. They will have marketing. They will have a marketing budget.
Mediocre marketing skills
You want a real estate agent who knows marketing. When researching agents, be sure to pay attention to the way they promote their online listings. According to NAR, 96 percent of home buyers searched online for properties.
Real estate is a side job for some people
A part-time real estate agent may have to juggle more responsibilities, such as a second occupation. That person may not be able to devote the time necessary for a quick sale. For these reasons, a part-time realtor may not have the skills and experience to get the best price for your house.
They are too pushy
It is important that you never feel pressured by your agent to make a decision. You should have a very comfortable relationship. If you ever feel pressured, kick that agent to the curb.
Not familiar with your market
Agents that haven’t been in the market for a while may not have the insider information about the local market. This is something seasoned agents are able to provide. Agents that have been selling in the area for some time also have connections with reputable inspectors, builders, etc.
It is important to have an agent working for you who has mastered the negotiation techniques needed. They can help you sort out the multiple offers that are on the table. These skills may include negotiating the closing costs, timelines and home warranties.
You can sense dishonesty
A good agent will never intentionally withhold information or mislead you. If something doesn’t feel quite right, even if it looks good on paper, then it is not likely to improve. Trust your gut!
Overly eager to please
A good agent is transparent and realistic. They will offer professional advice about the best course to take, even if that’s not exactly what you wanted to hear.
You may want to list your home for a certain amount, but the dollar amount is higher than what comparable data indicates. Some agents, eager to please you, will list your house at a higher price even though it will delay the sale.
You will eventually have to let the buyer negotiate lower. A local agent can assist you in deciding on a fair price for your home. This will ensure that it is not on the market too long.
4. Decide what is important to you first
What are you looking for in a real estate agent? Consider your top priorities before setting up an interview.
Communication could be a major factor. Would you rather chat over the phone or send a text/email to your client? Do you want to sell as soon as possible? You might want a quick response. You may want an agent to take the lead in the selling process or you might prefer a more hands-on approach.
5. Do advance in-person reconnaissance if possible
Take a look around your neighborhood to see which real estate agents are selling homes in your area. Then, look at which agents have sold signs and which do not.
Use an open house as a chance to chat with the agents and look around. What do they make a buyer feel like? Are they friendly and Professional? Are they knowledgeable about the house they are selling? Would you like to work with them?
6. Interview at least three agents
Speak to them directly. You can gauge important qualities such as honesty and friendliness through conversation.
Prepare interview questions that address your main concerns. Set up a 15-minute interview over the phone or in person. You can start the interview by introducing them to your home.
They need to know the:
- Square footage
- The number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Condition (briefly mention recent remodeling and necessary repairs).
- Unique features include a large property, a pool, a guest house, refinished basements, etc.
After you have given them all the facts, let your agent know your goal for selling your home. Tell the agent if you want to sell your house in a certain time frame or for a minimum price. Then, ask interview questions.
Here are six interview questions to ask a potential real estate agent:
How long have you been a real estate agent?
We would advise that experience is crucial. There are sometimes bumps on the road that you must get through. As a real-estate agent, you need to know how you can guide your clients through them.
Ideal is to work with an agent who has had at least five successful years in the real estate industry. During this time, the agent will have gained a deeper understanding of the local real estate market, experienced a variety of unique situations, developed a network and developed effective sales strategies.
How well do you know the local market?
Real estate is hyperlocal. You need an agent that knows how to attract buyers in your local market. This agent should answer this question with confidence and be able point out houses they have sold in your area or nearby.
What makes you different from other agents?
This question is a great way to gauge the agent’s sales skills. Here’s their chance to tell you why they are the best agent for you.
How many clients do you represent at once?
Listen for the Goldilocks answer: Too many clients will not dedicate enough time to selling your home, while too few may be a red-flag of an agent with not too much experience.
Is your fee flexible and what is included in it?
Some agents include services such as home staging within their fees. Full-service agents will offer a wide range of services that can help you to sell your home and increase its exposure.
What is the biggest obstacle to selling my home?
This question is a test of an agent’s humility and honesty. The agent may be flattering you if they don’t mention the competition that has remodeled homes.
7. Find out about relevant certifications, specialties and qualifications
Check the number with the licensing division of your state online to find out when the license was granted and if any complaints or temporary suspensions have been filed. All agents on the network with whom we would connect you must have an active real estate license for their state.
Some real estate agents will also receive additional training in order to specialize in one particular type of transaction.
8. You can ask the agent about their selling strategy
Are you on the same page as the agent regarding their selling strategy? Ask the agent about their marketing strategy, timeline estimates, and hosting open houses.
Also, make sure to ask about the lead time for showings, and how you can best determine the list price of your home.
9. Use this “Final Agent Selection Checklist”
You think you have found the right agent? Make sure that your agent has checked all the boxes.
Checklist for final agent selection by home sellers:
- Does the agent have a license in my state?
- Do I feel comfortable with the communication style of my agent?
- Is the agent friendly, professional, and demonstrates integrity?
- Do they know my locality and community?
- Is the agent familiar with my particular selling situation and needs?
- Does the company have a good reputation both in your community and on-line?
- If we need contractors, has the agent established a local professional network?
- Are they able to provide recent and proven results? (sale to list price ratio and average days of market)
- Is the person you are talking to an experienced negotiator?
- Did the agent answer my questions in a clear and satisfactory manner?
10. Choose your agent and sell your house
You have done your research on top agents both online and in-person. You have vetted at least three agents and, last but not the least, run through the final checklist for selecting an agent. You may still be unsure about the agent you want to hire. Our advice? Trust your gut.
This person is going to be in your house. They’re going to help you make one of the biggest sales of your life, so you want to be confident in them.
Remember, if you ever feel that your agent has not performed as promised or expected, do not hesitate to act. Ultimately, it’s your property that you are selling. Don’t accept anything less than perfection.