When you're looking for the right real estate agent to help you sell your home, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Who you hire impacts what the sales process looks like, how long it takes, and what your home sells for — which is why you need to know what to ask a prospective agent before you agree to work with them.
Do your research before you list your home; you want to find the perfect agents — and avoid the bad ones. Here are a list of questions you can ask a potential realtor to bring you some much needed clarity to your home-selling journey.
A great agent has ample experience selling homes, so feel free to inquire about how many home sales they have under their belt and how long they've been in the business. The more recent sales they have, the better. Ask to see their portfolio to learn more about what kind of homes they have experience with. Do they specialize in what you’re selling in terms of price range and home-type? If you have a unique situation, is the agent familiar with the additional steps you’ll need to take?
Ideally, you will also work with a realtor with knowledge of homes in your area. They'll known the the ins and outs of the local market, including what similar homes have sold for and what selling points will appeal to buyers (such as proximity to schools and shopping centers).
If your agent is new to the area, you shouldn’t necessarily write them off, but you will want to get them up to speed on what they need to know about your community — or, better yet, inquire about what they’re doing to get themselves acquainted with the area.
Looking into an agent’s past real estate transactions can give you a good sense of what you can expect for your home sale. Start by searching online to see what others have to say about the agent you’re considering. Online reviews only tell part of the story, so be sure to also ask friends, family, and neighbors about what they’ve heard. You can request client references directly from the agent as well.
If you get the chance to speak with a previous client, ask them more detailed questions about their experience working with the agent. How long did it take to sell their home? How proactive was the agent during the process? What was the original listing price, and how much did the home end up selling for? This feedback can give you an idea of the agent’s customer service and negotiation skills.
When you have the option to cancel the agreement, the realtor's commission check is no longer guaranteed, which means they will work harder to sell your house quickly at a price you’re happy with. They will also be less likely to over-inflate the price and risk your house remaining on the market for months with no offers.
This is one of the most important questions to ask a realtor. Once you choose a real estate agent to work with to sell your home, you will need to sign an agreement that confirms you’ll work with them exclusively. Typically, these agreements last for at least six months and make it so you can’t fire your agent to work with another agent. This agreement also makes it so you have to pay your agent if your house sells, even if you aren’t happy with their services.
Before you sign anything, ask your agent if you can revoke your agreement. They should say yes and put it in writing. While the average listing agreement won’t have this language in it, there is no reason your agent can’t add it in. If they say they can’t, don’t believe them.
If your agent already recommended a listing price, you need to know how they chose that number. The goal when you sell a home is to choose a price that will maximize your profit without being so high that it's hard to find a buyer and ends up delaying the sale. If you haven’t chosen an agent to work with yet, inquire as to how they’ll determine the list price. You need to make sure this decision stems from knowledge and data and isn’t an inflated price designed to keep you happy.
Ask your real estate agent to present you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) that compares your home to similar homes that sold recently. If your real estate agent can’t justify their price, their analysis will likely be very vague. An overinflated price may lead to your house staying on the market for longer than you’d like, so it’s important to make sure your real estate agent is thoughtful in their price recommendations.
You can fill out this intake form to get your initial home value estimate. Orchard valuations are free and 30% more accurate than leading estimates.
How your real estate agent markets your home affects how long it takes to sell your home and what type of buyers you attract. Your agent has a lot of marketing options at their disposal, so ask what their plans are to get the word out about your home. At the very least, they need to upload your home to a multiple listing service (MLS), but what will they do to make your house stand out from the crowd? For example, they may choose to advertise via flyers, ads, networking, or brochures.
Entertaining offers on a home is a time-consuming process. You don’t want to invest time in the wrong buyers, so it’s important that your agent has a process in place to vet a prospective buyer so you don’t waste time with ones who are likely to drop out of the sale.
Buyers may back out of a sale if they aren’t able to secure financing, so one important step for your real estate agent to take is to require any potential buyers to submit their pre-approval letter with their offer.
The seller is the one who pays the agent’s commission, not the buyer, so you’ll want to know what you’re expected to pay for. Typically, real estate commission costs 6% of the final sale price of the home and is split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.
While 6% is average, you can negotiate a different commission rate. You won’t want to lower the fees so much that you drive away great agents, but if your home is going to sell for a pretty penny, you may be able to negotiate a slightly lower commission.
Learn more about who pays real estate fees
Another important question to ask your real is regarding communication, which is key in the home sale process. Before you sign a contract, make sure you and your future agent agree on a primary communication method to make the relationship as effective as possible. Some people like to hash things out over the phone, while others prefer texts or email.
You should also ask the realtor how often you can expect to hear from them, and if they're part of team and someone else might end up relaying messages on their behalf.
When you sell your home with Orchard, you'll work with an experienced local listing. We also have an online dashboard, which gives you real-time updates on the selling process and even lets you read feedback from showings.
If you plan to make changes to your home to improve it before you list it, you’ll want to get some expert advice on what changes are most worthwhile, what repairs to skip, and whether you should get a home stager. The last thing you want to do is spend time and money on updates that won’t make much of a difference. When you ask a potential agent what you need to do to get your home ready for sale, you’ll kill two birds with one stone.
Not only should you get some expert insight, but you’ll gain an idea of how savvy and experienced they are. If they aren’t able to give you some helpful directions, they may not have the experience level you need.
Don’t be afraid to interview multiple realtors. You don’t want to rush and sign a contract with an agent that isn’t the right fit for you. Ask as many questions as you need to so that you feel confident in your choice.
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