Special Report # 2…How to earn an extra $10-$25K when you sell your home!
Question #1 Do you work solo or as part of a team?
These days the best way to sell your home is with a team. Is has been estimated that there are over 84 different things/tasks that must be completed during the home sale by an agent. Trying to handle them all by themselves is the old school way of selling homes. Too many times a small part time agent attempts to handle the sale of a friend or family members home, and it turns out to be a nightmare. Working with a top rated team that has specialists in each particular area of the home sales process behind the scenes allows you the home seller the luxury of more face time or dialogue with the lead agent/broker of the office.
If your agent is part of a team, find out what aspects of the work he/she handles personally and whether you’ll be in contact with the other team members or only your agent. Will the number you call her on be a direct line, or will you be speaking merely to a receptionist?
If the agent works solo, finding out about her current workload is key. Next you’ll inquire about the agent’s other obligations — after all, how else is he/she able to ensure he/she’s available when you need them to be. What about attracting buyers to the property, handling marketing, answering calls, negotiating contracts, the list is huge! No single agent can come close to comparing to a well-oiled machine like a top selling team in your area.
Question # 2 How will you market my home?
The 3 P’s of selling a home is unfortunately the way most one man band agents sell homes today. The 3 P’s are. They POUND a sign in the yard, they PLACE the home in the local MLS and then they get on one knee and PRAY some other agent actually sells the home.
Pounding a for-sale sign in your front lawn is all well and good, but you can do that yourself — without the aid of a Realtor. But what about potential buyers who don’t happen to drive by your particular street? Out-of-towners who are moving to a new area usually don’t have the time to comb the streets of every neighborhood to find a house. In this age of a limitless information superhighway, it’s much easier to break down geographic barriers that connect sellers with buyers. This means your options expand along with your competition, so it’s imperative to think beyond the yard sign.
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 their marketing plan for getting your house sold. A good agent will post your house on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) immediately after signing with you. The MLS is a system of databases which lists homes for sale and gives your house broad exposure to homebuyers.
A good agent should market your house in other ways too but print advertising like ads in newspapers and magazines is OLD school and rarely works in this day and age, traditional brochures and flyers like the ones you see in waiting rooms and at the entrances to restaurants are also not as effective as they once were.
However, one of the most common venues for selling homes is the Internet. According to the National Association of Realtors, the Internet is used to find a home 88 percent of the time. Web sites like Craigslist, Yahoo! Real Estate and Realtor.com have exploded in popularity as places for buyers and sellers to find each other, and there are scores of others you can use. Most realty companies even have their own Web sites where you can search their MLS listings. The very best option is to work with a team that has a STRONG internet presence.
During this conversation, you should also find out whether the agent has plans to hold open houses-if they want to hold traditional open houses…run for the hills. They don’t work and in this day and age the ONLY reason an agent will agree to do them is because they have NO BUYERS for your home already and they need to use your home to possibly attract buyer prospects that will more than likely end up buying another home and that agent will receive a commission on. But it won’t help you sell your home. Count on it…
Question # 3 How do your realtor fees work?
During the interview, you’ll want to talk money. Most agents don’t charge a flat fee but take a percentage of the home’s final sale price. This percentage varies with each agent, but the commission typically hovers between six to eight percent of the selling price. This fee can be a hefty sum. So, if you’re the seller, you may want to ask if it’s negotiable.
The negotiability of agent commission can depend heavily on the market. In a booming real estate market, commissions might dip lower because homes are easier to sell. On the other hand, when the market is tight an agent might be less likely to budge on his/her fee. But it doesn’t hurt to ask. Caution…Beware of the agents that will discount their commission right away if you ask them, as if they will drop their own fee so quickly, how well will they actually negotiate for you on the sale of your home.
Along with commission, it’s also important to discuss the agent’s cancellation policy. Consider what would happen if, after signing an agent, you hear that your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate is interested in buying your house? Maybe you’ll just become unhappy with the realtor or agent somewhere down the road before the contract expires. Ask about what kind of early cancellation fees may apply to you. A great way to get a feel for the agent’s professionalism and tactics is to ask how she’s dealt with this situation in the past. Or has he/she dealt with much in the past at all.
Question #4 How will you keep me informed?
In most relationships, communication is the key to being successful. Your partnership with your real estate professional is no different. You need to know, up front, how he/she will keep you in the loop. This means finding out several factors like what kinds of news they’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?
If you’re a buyer, there are a number of details to handle, even after a seller has accepted your offer. This includes home inspection, re-inspection, mortgage paperwork, title search, title insurance, repairs and other items. Will you get a weekly update, or just on an as-needed basis? Will it be with a phone call, an email or both? You may have your own preferences, and the agent may or may not accommodate them.
Ask for details about how accessible the agent will be for you, since you’ll have questions and concerns throughout the selling or buying process. Find out what business hours he/she keeps and — at the risk of sounding like a stalker — if you can call him outside of those hours on his cell or home phone. Whether he/she answers e-mails in a timely fashion will also become important down the line. Hopefully, they’ll have positive responses to these questions, but it’s always smart to verify them when you check his references.
Question #5 May 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/she won’t be able to tell you is what it’s like to work with him day to day.
For this reason, whether you’re buying or selling your home, you should always ask your real estate agent for references. Call a few of the references and ask previous clients about their experiences with the agent. Were they pleased with the work he did? Was he/she easy to get in touch with? Did he/she keep them well informed? Would they recommend him/her to others?
In the real estate business, word of mouth recommendations are as good as gold, so a positive review from a past client will give you a good idea whether the agent is worth your time. However, be sure to ask the references if they’re related to the agent — a reference list made up of friends and relatives probably won’t give an unbiased assessment of the agent’s positive and negative qualities.
In addition to information about himself, the real estate agent should be able to hand over information about the neighborhood in which you’re buying or selling your home. Next we’ll find out how prepared he/she is to fill you in on the current market.
Question # 6 May I have a CMA for the area?
Every real estate agent should be able to give you a comparative market analysis (CMA), which is a listing of homes currently for sale and recently sold in the area. The CMA (known informally as the “comps”) will compare the details of your home with similar homes on the market, and includes specifics like price, square footage and number of bedrooms. This is your starting point for knowing how your home measures up to others that are selling in the neighborhood and, most importantly, at what price you should list your house. An experienced real estate agent will make this part of the process a priority.
A CMA can give you a lot of important information. For example, what types of homes and home features seem to be the most popular for buyers in the area? What are homes with similar features to your own selling for? How long are homes like yours staying on the market before they sell? Arming yourself with this information is a great way to help develop a realistic view of your home’s value and sales potential. It will also help you monitor whether you agent’s advice is in line with the current market trends.
But knowing the sales figures for area homes can’t tell you everything. Sometimes it takes an expert eye to pick up on the subtle clues to an area’s growth trends. The next question digs a bit deeper into your agent’s intimate knowledge of the neighborhood in which you’re buying and selling. *Special Note…It is even better to meet the agent in their office and have them log on directly to the MLS service/website and allow you to see the data versus allowing them to bring you a CMA to your home that they could have manipulated to in order to get you to agree to list them home on the market at a much lower price.
Question # 7 What are the drawbacks of my home?
Although it may seem counterintuitive, asking a real estate agent to evaluate the flaws of your home is a great way to learn other important information during the interview.
For one, if the agent tells you what sounds like legitimate drawbacks, then you know he/she 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/she doesn’t point out what you already know are flaws, this could be an indication that he/she may have only a half-hearted dedication to selling your home.
What’s more, regardless of what it tells you about the agent, you can use this information in the selling process. Knowing your home’s disadvantages will give you an opportunity to fix them and a more realistic expectation of the home’s market value. Many times the best team leaders will hire a staging professional to visit your home and make suggestions on what to do and more importantly what NOT to do in order to get you the most money for your home when you sell it.
Overall, it’s a good idea to hire a real estate agent you think will seek out your best interests. Even gut feelings can tell you something. You don’t want to entrust such an important transaction to someone who doesn’t make you feel comfortable.
Bonus Question… Is my area growing or declining?
When it comes to recognizing trends in the market, real estate agents are on the front lines. They see a lot of growth and decline — some areas can turn from a swamp into a bustling residential area in just a few years, while others can transform from a highly desired neighborhood into foreclosure city in no time. As your window into the real estate world, your agent should be aware of what the growth and decline trends are, and help you find an area that has a positive outlook.
It’s easy for most people to see that the neighborhood with lots of boarded up homes might not be growing, but often the signs are much more subtle, especially in the early stages, and your real estate agent can spot the clues. Things like neighborhood activity, street maintenance and the type and number of small businesses in the area can all point to the neighborhood’s growth trends. A good real estate agent will be able to tell you if the home you have your eye on is likely to be a good investment based on everything else that’s happening around it.