“Must Ask” Questions for Sellers
Can I See Your References?
Like anyone put on the spot in a job interview, a real estate agent is likely to emphasize all of his positives — sales records, qualifications, experience and so on. But what he won’t be able to tell you is what it’s like to work with him day to day.
A professional should be happy to provide you with several names of satisfied clients. Be wary if they are defensive when you ask the question. If they cannot supply references then choose another REALTOR®. Many sellers do not check references, but you should. This is one of the easiest and most important steps you can take. Talking to past clients is a good way of learning how a REALTOR® operates beyond what he says he is going to do. Here are some questions to ask your REALTOR®’s past clients:
- How long was your home on the market?
- Do you feel the REALTOR® priced it realistically?
- What was it originally listed at? What was the selling price?
- What type of marketing did the REALTOR® do?
- Did the REALTOR® suggest how to make your home more marketable?
- Did the REALTOR® keep his promises? Did he do what he said he would do?
- Were you kept informed along the way? How often did you talk?
- What did you like most about the REALTOR®?
- Was there anything about the REALTOR® that you didn’t like?
- Would you use this REALTOR® again?
Is This Area Growing or Declining?
As your window into the real estate world, your agent should be aware of what the growth and decline trends are.
Do You Work Solo or as Part of a Team?
There are both positives and negatives to working with real estate teams. One drawback to a team is that you might not always be working with the individual you hired. If you call to ask a question, the agent you’re familiar with might not be the one who is “assigned” to speak with you. On the other hand, a team could mean that you’ll get more attention and personalized service, especially if there are people taking care of the behind-the-scenes work for your agent (allowing him the luxury of more face time with you and qualified Buyers).
How Will You Market my Home?
One of the biggest advantages that a real estate agent offers you is his access to resources for marketing your home. Ask each agent you interview to spell out his marketing plan for getting your house sold.
What Is Your List-Price-to-Selling-Price Ratio?
You get this ratio by comparing the original list price of the property to the price at which it eventually sold. A good agent will know this number as it is his business. The rule of thumb is to choose an agent with a ratio as close to 100 percent as possible, which means that his home’s final sale prices have been close to the listing prices
How Will You Keep Me Informed?
Find out several factors like what kinds of news he’ll update you on, the frequency of updates and how the agent will communicate them. Will your listing agent let you know about every interested buyer, no matter how serious?
What Are the Drawbacks of My Home?
If the agent tells you what sounds like legitimate drawbacks, then you know he has a seasoned, keen eye. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see that the agent is honest and isn’t just going to sweet-talk you into signing a contract. On the other hand, if he doesn’t point out what you already know are flaws, this could be an indication that he may have only a half-hearted dedication to selling your home.
Are You a Full-Time Or Part-Time Sales Person? How Long Have You Been Working?
Ideally, the agent should be working full-time, with at least 3 to 5 years’ experience, preferably in your area. A part-time agent may not be able to keep up with the pace or complexity of today’s rapidly changing marketplace. They may not be available when you need them most.
Do You Have Any Questions For Me?
A realtor who is effectively working for you should ask pointed, specific questions about your home and situation. They should not simply fill in blanks on a form. By asking about your needs, a professional can create a plan of action for you, rather than using a cookie-cutter approach.
How Will You Help Me In Staging My Home?
To make the most of your home, you will want to present your home in the best possible light for potential buyers. Your agent should not be afraid to tell you about the positive areas of your home, while suggesting improvements to the negative areas. If he or she does not mention the subject, it is likely he does not have this in his toolbox. You should expect a confident and competent sales person to provide you with workable ideas to make your home more salable.
What Are Your Commission Fees?
These fees are negotiable. You should also weigh the merits of each REALTOR®’s fee versus the benefits he or she provides. Be wary of a REALTOR® who is willing to reduce their commission, up front. Perhaps he or she does not intend to spend the time, effort or money to sell your home.
What’s Your Business Philosophy?
While there’s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what’s important to the agent and determine how closely the agent’s goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.
Am I Comfortable With This Sales Person?
You should ask yourself this very important question. Are you comfortable with his or her personality and how he conducts business? When it comes to your investment, do not settle for anything other than honesty, respect and integrity. If you do not like this person, choose another realtor. The last thing you want is a personality clash when you are trying to sell your home and maximize your equity. Your agent should look after your interests!