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Selecting a listing real estate agent: a guide to resources

What to know when selecting a listing real estate agent, questions to ask and ways to research the candidates.

When selecting a listing real estate agent, pick one who knows your neighborhood.Selecting a listing real estate agent is a very important part of selling your home. The wrong listing agent can cost you time and money. However, the right agent will help you sell your home quickly, for a good price. So, some diligent research can equate to more money and a great home selling experience.

Know what a listing agent does

To begin your search, it will help you to know what a listing agent will do for you. A listing agent works for the home seller. The listing agent’s goal is to sell your home for the best price possible. A good listing agent will provide the following services:

  • Help you price the property right so it will sell quickly
  • Suggest repairs and improvements to help your home sell
  • Market your property to prospective buyers and other agents
  • Schedule and attend open houses and private showings
  • Negotiate offers and sort the legal details of offers
  • Follow through on sale contract contingencies

When you’re selecting a listing real estate agent, picture that person interacting with buyer’s agents, prospective clients and your family throughout the sales process. You want an agent who you’ll like and respect.

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Get personal recommendations

Personal recommendations are a great source of home listing real estate agents. Your friends, neighbors and relatives can help you find an agent who fits your personality and knows your neighborhood well. These people will probably give honest accounts of their experiences with listing agents. That will help you eliminate agents before you start interviewing them. Don’t, however, hire an agent simply because he or she is a family member or a friend.

selecting a listing real estate agentExplore home sales in the neighborhood

It’s possible you don’t have a big network of friends and co-workers in your neighborhood. Maybe you haven’t lived there long, or possibly you inherited the property and have never lived there. You can research local home listing real estate agents by looking around for home sale signs. How are those homes are represented? Are they well maintained, or does it look like no one is in charge?

Good listing agents will make sure that their clients’ homes are in tiptop shape while they are on the market. You might also see several home-for-sale signs from a particular agent, which is a good bet that agent knows your area well and is popular with neighborhood homeowners.

If you want to see a particular agent in action, attend a few open houses in your neighborhood. That will give you a chance to see how they work and ask questions about how they market houses in that location.

Browse print and online resources

Traditional real estate publications, newspapers and websites also provide tons of information about home listing real estate agents. Websites, like Zillow.com, were created specifically to help people find properties and good realtors. Most realty websites have client testimonials or reviews as well. Your state and local professional real estate associations also provide directories of listing agents.

Interviewing Candidates

Once you’ve compiled a short list of possible candidates, interview each agent. It helps to create a list of questions you ask each real estate agent. This is especially useful if your spouse or partner will be doing some of the interviews.

An agent’s answers will help you determine who is the best fit for your property and your personality. Some good questions for prospective agents are:

  1. What is your area of specialty?
  2. Have you sold other homes in my neighborhood?
  3. How do you determine a sale price?
  4. How will you market my home?
  5. How do you negotiate a sale?
  6. What is your typical commission fee?
  7. How many homes are you currently selling?
  8. Do you respond more quickly to calls or e-mails?
  9. Can you provide referrals from other clients?

Home listing real estate agents are typically eager to meet you and answer questions like these. If an agent seems too busy for this step, that agent may be too busy to devote the necessary time and attention to your home sale. Additionally, agents should ask you questions to make sure you are the type of client they best represent.

seller's agentsResearch the agent one step further

Dedicate just a bit more time to research before selecting a listing real estate agent by fact-checking their answers to your interview questions. If they provide referrals from other clients or have online testimonials with clients’ names, call a couple of those homeowners personally.

Agents should be able to print out their production record from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to verify their track record. Many agent and broker websites will also show recent sales so you can see how many properties were in your neighborhood.

To research the agent, find the department responsible for real estate licensing in your state. This will confirm that the agent is licensed and tell you how long they’ve been working in the industry.

As a final check, do a quick Google search of the agent’s name to pull up complaints on sites like Yelp as well as publicized kudos, community involvement and maybe even published articles or blog posts.

Be wary of offers that seem too good

Once you’ve done your interviews and research, trust your gut when selecting a listing real estate agent. If an agent’s offer seems too good to be true, it may be. A competent agent will not overinflate your suggested selling price just to get your business or offer to accept a commission lower than the market standard.

The agent should use a competitive market analysis of comparable homes for sale or recently sold in your area to set the sale price of your home. The agent’s commission may depend on your location and the time it takes to sell your property, but he or she should provide a reasonable fee range you can expect.

The best home listing real estate agent is not necessarily the one who charges the least commission per sale. The best agent for you is one who suits your individual needs, knows your area well and has a good network of other real estate agents.

Reply! can help you find experienced home listing real estate agents in your area and get home values needed to set the right price for your home. 

Photo credit: (top) Geoff Peters 604 via Compfight CC.

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