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Choosing A Real Estate Agent To Help Sell Your Home
(from Chapter 6 - Steiners Complete How To Move Handbook) 
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(Recommended in Cosmopolitan Magazine )
The first step in finding an agent is to ask for referrals from neighbors. It's an old real estate adage that there are three keys to a good real estate buy--location, location, location. Although I'd have to add timing, timing, timing to that list, location specialization is the key to a good agent for selling your home. If your aunt across town has a fabulous agent, talk to the agent, but only to find out who's recommended in your neighborhood. If your uncle sells real estate in your area, consider a policy of not using friends or family--it may keep you from some nasty internecine strife.
Other good methods for developing your agent short list are to take down names and telephone numbers from area signs or area newspaper ads. If you know an agency name, but not which agent is right for your neighborhood, ask the agency office manager whom she would recommend. Looking agencies up in the Yellow Pages is difficult, because you usually can't tell which agency specializes in your area. Don't call your local Board of Realtors. They may confirm whether or not someone is licensed, but they do not recommend.

Discount Agencies

The Yellow Pages are good for finding discount agencies--one way to go, if you're willing to shoulder Open Houses and/or other traditional agent responsibilities for a lower fee. Help-U-Sell, a large, national franchiser, offers a menu of choices that range from set fees starting at $500 and paid whether or not your sale closes, to a reduced commission rate. Other agencies have other plans. Discounters should be interviewed like any other agent as you are making your listing decision. 

Points to Cover When Interviewing Prospective Agents

  1. Talk to five or six agents on the telephone to get a feel for people who seem easy to work with and knowledgeable. Take control of the conversation early by asking questions, rather than answering their questions. Phrase your queries so their answers won't reflect what they think you want to hear.

  3. Don't start scheduling presentations with them immediately. Instead, take notes on their responses on the "Seller's Real Estate Agent" evaluator provided in Appendix A of Steiners' Complete How To Move Handbook. You'll be able to see who the top candidates are by totaling their scores.
Listing Presentations --Your Inside Track to Marketing Know-How

Evaluate all of your contacts, then call back the three you felt best about, and set up listing presentation appointments. Try to schedule them for different days, so that it will be easier to assimilate their information. These presentations can give you vital insights into your local real estate market, but rarely do all the facts assemble themselves coherently without your stopping to think them through.

Ask all three to include in their presentations: 

- A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of your property, listing:

  • a. All the homes which have sold in your neighborhood in the past year, their prices and attributes. Some people like the agent to weed out the complete sales list, and only present three or four of the ones the agent feels are "most comparable," i.e., the homes appraisers likely use as comparisons when they set the lender's appraised value. We prefer to do our own weeding out.
  • b. All the homes which are currently listed in your neighborhood, their prices and attributes. Again, your preference may be to have the agent give you only a short list of "most comparables."
  • c. A three- to five-year quarterly tracking of median or average sales prices, number of homes sold and number of Days on the Market for your neighborhood and several others in your city. As outlined earlier in this chapter, these are the numbers that will help you analyze the market, whether or not you should try a high asking price and how long before you may have to consider reducing your price. If you get your price right at the outset, you can figure you'll close the sale in the average amount of time. - A Marketing Plan outlining any changes they think you should make--paint the exterior, clean out the garage, etc.; who she feels best fits your Buyer Profile; how to analyze when a price reduction is in order, etc.
- Background Information on their agency and themselves with references

Look for at least two years in operation for the agent, five for the company. Although every year of experience can mean better skills at selling and solving problems, many times newer, but established, agents and companies try harder. Some agents can be very good after only six months of experience.  Copyright (c) 1998-2000 by Independent Information Publications - All rights reserved

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