Hiring A Realtor
The purpose of this article is to provide you with support and guidance whether you are selling your home, buying a new one, or both. This begins with making sure, that before you hire a realtor, you ask the right questions. Don’t be shy about asking questions. Unless you are real-estate-pro, there is a great deal to know.
The below questions and asnswers will assist you in feeling more in control, centered and in confident in your decisions. This alone will cut down the stress, as you transition from married life.
Pointer: Don’t just assume because you are going through troubled times others (especially those in a position to profit from you) will treat you fairly and honestly. While this approach is cynical, being cautious and informed is also smart.
Pointer: If it is your intention to both sell and buy a home in the general area, insist on getting a substantial discount on these transactions. You will be paying the realtor two separate commissions, one from the sale of your home and one from the purchase of another. This is also true if your agent turns out to be the listing and buying agent on the same property.
Do you work full or part-time as a real estate agent?
Full-time agents are likely to give you more attention. They have less distractions when they are working more then one job at a time.
In the past three years, how many homes have you sold in the neighborhood I want to relocate to?
This is important. Realtors that focus on particular communities are more informative (quality of school districts, crime levels, etc…) and have a deeper knowledge of the price ranges available in these communities.
How many sellers are you representing right now?
A busy realtor may be too busy to put the time in to market your home if you are selling it, and too busy to spend the time with you to get to know your preferences and needs if you are buying. This rule, however, is not absolute. There are agents that are very efficient and can delegate tasks to others while also being attentive to your particular needs. This is why obtaining at least four references is a good idea. Two from buyers and two from sellers.
Are your willing to negotiate on your fees?
If the realtor says no, my recommendation is to say “thank you” and go find another realtor Everything in this business is negotiable. It’s worse then a fish market! Especially if the realtor is representing both the buyer and the seller. There are many ways to structure a discount: you can request that the realtor accept a flat fee rather then taking a percentage of the sales price. Having a realtor agree to cut a half-percentage point is more then reasonable.
If you are selling, ask the realtor what price range he/she believes the house will sell for in the current market?
Don’t just accept a range, ask why the realtor selected a specific range. The response will give you an idea of the extent of the agent’s knowledge of the area and the reasoning behind the agents opinions. Remember, the most accurate way to determine a price arrange is to have the realtor pull a comparable sales in your select location with comparable square footage and number of bedrooms. Make sure you ask the agent for a copy of the list. Remember this is a team effort.
Can I ask the agent to prepare a competitive report for me on the neighborhood I am interested in?
Yes! Your agent should provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) and you should ask for it before you choose to retain the agent. This will test whether the agent is willing to work hard for you even before you agree to retain the realtor. It will also give you a good sense of the agents knowledge and capacity to approach the potential transaction in a logical and organized fashion.
What is your advertising and marketing plan for my house?
If you are selling, you want to know, in advance, the amount of time and money the agent is willing to devote to your sale. Ask the agent about the number of open houses he/she expects to put on in a given month. At the very least, you should make sure the agent put on an open house for other brokers. This is much more powerful since you are reaching more brokers and therefore more potential buyers.
How long must I list my house with you?
The best advice is for three month or less in order to motivate the agent. Keep in mind that you can always rehire the agent if you believe the agent has been working hard for you. Make sure you request and agree in writing that you have the right to cancel the listing agreement at anytime if you are unhappy with the agent. You cannot do this however if you end-up buying or selling the home the agent has found for you.
Do you work with stagers or presenters when you sell a home?
This can be very important depending on the condition of your house. Stagers are experts at making a ordinary home look extrordinary. They work with lighting, paint color, and even furnishings in order to make sure your house presents the best way possible. Its always smart to request that your agent make recommendations on how best to present your home to viewers. Suggest you relocate your pets first. Not everyone is a pet person and pets do leave a scent and can do damage to the house. You don’t want the buyer to be inspecting the walls behind the couch.
How often will the agent be in communication with you?
This question cuts right to the chase. Keeping you informed helps you gage the effort and performance of your agent. I would recommend no less then twice a week. You want to be kept informed of all potential offers even if they are verbal.
What will be my closing costs?
Make sure there are no surprises. Have your agent put the estimated closing costs in writing so can better budget for the relocation.
Pointer: Finally, there are times when you will be facing a court order to sell your home. Under these circumstances, the pressure to sell is escalated, but you can always go back to court and request further time to sell the property. This is where both you and your former partner share a common interest. Both partners want to obtain the best price possible for the home.