You may think real estate agents are pretty much the same, and that there is very little difference between agents.
When you hire a real estate agent to sell your home, you’re bringing another person into your life, your finances, and your home for weeks at a time. It’s important to make sure you choose the right one.
Before you go with just any real estate agent here are some important questions to consider in order to select the right agent.
Top Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent When You are Selling
A great real estate agent is more than just a salesperson. A great real estate agent acts like your business partner, they are invested in your success and ultimately become a trusted advisor looking out for your best interests.
The difference between just any agent and the right agent is getting the advice and strategy that will get your home sold for the best price and make sure you don’t make any costly mistakes.
A great real estate agent will recommend necessary design changes, remodeling, and staging to maximize your home’s value and sale.
A great agent will have a deep understanding of the market and advise you on the right timing. They will listen to what you are trying to accomplish and make sure you know all your options and consider all aspects before you sell your home.
Throughout the process of selling, you will likely speak with your agent every day and when offers start to come in, you’ll speak with them several times a day. That’s why it’s important to hire an amazing real estate agent who you trust and know you’ll get along with well.
Make sure to interview several agents before deciding upon one.
Take this checklist to meetings and then hire the best agent you feel you can work with and who has your complete confidence that they can get the job done.
1. Can You Pass Along a List of References?
Great agents are busy and they are working on multiple home sales. They are in the process of opening, servicing, and closing sales at all times. Be sure to ask you agent for references to the last 5 listings they have closed. You will want to ensure that these references were pleased with the service and results and any feedback they can give you.
2. Can You Provide the Details of Your Last 12 Months’ Sales?
It’s easy for an agent to generate a spreadsheet of their last sales from the Multiple Listing Service or MLS. The spreadsheet should include the property address, list date, list price, sales price, and days on market (DOM).
If possible you will want to request this in advance of your meeting so you can go over any questions you may have.
From this information, you will be able to determine if the agent is able to price their listings effectively, sell them within a reasonable amount of time, and also see the amount of volume they are doing within a certain period of time.
If the agent’s sales are below the list price and taking weeks to sell that may indicate he is overpricing his listings and likely giving you a higher price estimate than what your home will sell for.
I always provide a spreadsheet of our last 12 months of sales to our prospective listing clients. To access a list of my recently sold homes please visit, Recently Sold Homes.
3. How Many Homes Have You Sold in My Neighborhood?
Based on the information you received from the sales spreadsheet you should know how many homes your agent is selling and how many they have sold in your area.
In Santa Clara, neighborhoods and tracts can differ greatly in terms of the types and quality of the homes they offer, the school’s boundaries, and their overall desirability.
To sell a home for a great price, you have to understand your home and how it compares to the market.
Agents who are active in your area will know your home’s advantages and disadvantages and know how to appropriately market and price your home.
4. How Long Have You Been a Real Estate Agent?
Experience isn’t everything, but in order to be an expert in your field, you need enough experience. How much is enough experience? Is it 5, 10, or 20 years?
If you have been in the industry and actively selling homes for 5-10 years you likely have enough experience to be an expert. But you’ll want to make sure that the agent you work with has lots of experience listing and selling homes.
You will want to be cautious of new agents who haven’t listed many homes. The less experienced the agent the more you open yourself to risk and mistakes.
Mistakes can be in the form of failing to disclose important details that can leave you open to a lawsuit to not having a reliable team of professionals to help prepare the home. I see many new agents not understanding the market or how to negotiate effectively to obtain a strong price.
The same can be said of seasoned agents who have been in real estate for 20 years or more. Seasoned agents run the risk of being outdated and not adopting the latest trends and technology in the industry.
You’ll want to hire an agent with enough experience who is current with recent trends in the market and incorporates the latest tools and technologies to get homes sold.
5. Are You a Part-Time or Full-Time Agent?
If the agent you are considering is not a full-time real estate agent, don’t waste your time.
Our local Santa Clara real estate market is too demanding for part-time agents to adequately service their listings and clients.
Listing a Santa Clara home in today’s market requires lots of time to prepare the listing, and communicate with clients, prospective buyers, and agents.
You’ll need to be available to effectively get the home sold for top value.
6. How Many Sellers Are You Currently Representing?
Great agents are in high demand, and are likely very busy, especially during the top selling season. There is such a thing as being too busy in real estate, and being too busy will result in poor service and results.
So how much is too busy in Santa Clara real estate?
There are agents in different markets around the United States that will sell 200 homes in a year, but those markets are vastly different than Santa Clara.
Homes in Santa Clara typically sell quickly usually within 7-10 days with lots of demand. If you have too many active listings at one time it will make it difficult for an agent to keep up with the communication and be able to negotiate multiple offers.
As a rule of thumb, I would think that more than 4 or 5 active listings at one time would be too much for an agent to handle. This will of course depend on the agent and their team, but as a seller, it’s something to be mindful of when picking the right agent.
7. What’s the Ratio Between Buyers and Sellers You Represent?
The vast majority of agents are buyer’s agents. That means that a typical real estate agent will represent mainly buyers who are looking to purchase a home. In many cases, a typical agent may only list one or just a few homes a year.
Listing agents need to be experienced in listing and selling homes. If the agent’s sales history shows far more experience on the buying side than on the selling, the agent may not have enough experience and understanding of the current market.
There are other advantages to working with agents who primarily work with sellers.
Working with an agent who primarily lists homes means working with an agent who is not only experienced, but has structured their business to work with sellers. They will have all the important contacts and resources readily available to sell your home.
An active listing agent will be able to get your home in tip-top selling shape faster and more efficiently than an agent who only does a few listings a year.
* Total commission 4% including buyer side agent commission of 2.5%, offer varies by value of home.
8. Will I Be Working With You Directly or a Team?
As I mentioned earlier, listing and selling a home in Santa Clara can require a lot of preparation and planning. Having a team can help things go smoother and get things done faster.
However, having a team is not always efficient especially regarding communication. If every time you call to get a hold of your agent you have to be routed through several people this can be annoying.
You need one point of contact that has intimate knowledge of your home, and that is the person you hired, your listing agent. You don’t want to be sold on the neighborhood expert only to be working with their newly hired apprentice.
You should be dealing directly with the agent you interviewed at all times and have a direct number where you can reach them.
All my listing clients have my direct cell phone number, and deal directly with me throughout the listing period until their home sells.
9. How Do You Plan to Market the Home?
One of the biggest factors that set an agent apart from other agents is their marketing plan.
A great real estate agent should know your market, and their marketing plan should be tailored for the market, your home, and your goals.
During your meeting, your objectives and goals should be clear.
With your objectives in mind, your agent should present a comprehensive marketing plan to sell your home, and achieve your desired outcome.
A comprehensive marketing plan will take into account the strategy and include how to get the home ready, what repairs or improvements should be made; staging, professional photography, videos, and 3D tours.
Also what advertising channels and websites will your home be featured on to ensure maximum exposure.
How are open houses conducted and who will be there? These are all important details you’ll want to make sure the agent you are interviewing covers in their presentation.
For a comprehensive list of services, we offer please view our Services Booklet.
- Matterport 3D Virtual Tour
- Schematic Floor Plan
- Professional HDR Photography
- Twilight Marketing Photos
- Complimentary Home Staging
- Value-Add Home Updates
- Aerial Photography
- Drone Footage
- Open Houses
- Property Video
- Property Webpage
- Website Syndication
- Email Marketing
- Print Marketing
- Social Media Advertising
- In-House Design Services
- Project Management
- Preferred Contractors & Vendors
- In-Depth Construction Knowledge
- Professionally-Held Broker Tour
- Property Inspections
- Home Security
- Strategic Pricing Knowledge
- Offer Presentation & Negotiation
- Personal Disclosure Review
- Transaction Management
10. Do You Have Professional Trades People in Your Network?
Experienced listing agents should have a team of reputable and reliable tradespeople such as a handyman, contractor, stager, house cleaners, window cleaners, moving companies, inspectors, a title company, landscapers, etc.
There are many aspects involved in selling a home in our local market. One of the roles an agent can assume is a project manager and leverage their resources to get your home ready quickly and without a hassle and save you thousands in the process.
We have a comprehensive list of professional tradespeople that we have been using for years. Our partners understand our commitment to our clients and expectations of quality.
As part of our Complete Selling Solution, we act as the project manager and handle all the aspects of getting your home ready and on the market. We can even defer the costs until the close of escrow.
11. Do You Offer Staging As Part of Your Services?
If you watch HGTV you know that staging is a vital marketing tool for getting a home sold quickly and for a high value.
So much of the home buying decision is done through feeling and emotion. When buyers enter a home, if they have a positive feeling about the home there is a good chance they will be interested buyers.
Staging helps create that positive feeling for home buyers. For more information about how staging can sell your home for top value check out our post How to Stage a Home to Sell.
If your objective is to sell for top value, the agent you work with should understand the importance of staging and have a great staging professional in their network.
Keep in mind that not all staging is equal. A home’s staging should compliment the home, and make it feel bright, and stylish while optimally defining the home’s spaces and their use.
A well-staged home adds value to rooms and space, and a poorly-staged home can make rooms feel unusable or unimportant.
Staging is such a vital component of our marketing, that we have invested in an in-house staging department that handles the staging for all of our listings. This enables us to have the flexibility to stage homes when we need to and control the quality and end result of our listings.
Our staging is some of the best available and makes our listings stand out. Also, our staging is completely free and at no cost to our listing clients.
For more information about our staging philosophy and to see examples of our staging, you can visit our home staging page.
12. How did you pick the Comparables for Your Market Analysis?
You should expect every agent you meet with to present you with a CMA, or comparative market analysis of your home.
This is what you and the agent will review when discussing your home’s value and what they believe your home will eventually sell for.
It’s likely that every agent you interview will have a different perception of value and use different comps (comparables). It’s important to understand what comps the agents used and how they reached their valuation of your home.
This will help you understand how well the agent knows your home, your home’s area, and how they justify the price they think your home will sell for.
13. How Do Your Realtor Fees Work?
No one likes the idea of writing a blank check, especially for selling your home.
One of the most important components of selling your home, is the transaction costs or commission charged.
Real estate commissions are not regulated, and therefore there is no standard commission. Agents can charge whatever the feel is reasonable.
While discussing the agent’s commission rate its important to understand what services are included and what additional costs there may be.
Is staging included or is it in addition to the commission? Who will pay for the inspections? Will there be additional costs such as transactional fees? Who will pay for the photography and virtual tour?
When factoring our fees or commissions to our listing clients, we take into account a number of factors. We look at the home’s value, the work required to satisfy our client’s objective, and ultimately provide the most competitive commission we can offer.
Our listing side commission will vary depending on these factors.
For more details about how real estate commissions work please see our post titled Real Estate Commissions.
For more information about how we determine our listing commissions, visit our page Commissions at the Brasil Group.
There are a lot of factors when considering a real estate professional to sell your home.
I hope that the information above helped explain the importance of those factors and what to look for when interviewing agents.
If you have any questions or comments about the article please leave a comment below.
If you have more specific questions about our services or want to talk about selling your home please contact me directly or schedule an appointment.