I am a Glendale Ca real estate agent who recently tried to help some out of area friends find an agent to sell their mother’s home.
My friends are fact-based engineers and they had a terrible time choosing an agent. So I create a form to make their lives easier.
Here are the data points I think you should have on each agent you consider and how you can interpret the answers.
Reputation matters, but not like most people assume. A large company doesn’t help the homeowner one little bit. If a small company has a great reputation with the local residents and local agents then rest easy.
Years in Business
Again, a long time in business is not a guarantee of a great agent for you. I know lots of dinosaurs who are terrible agents and lots of newbies who are doing amazing things. In general, years of experience is a good and valuable thing for you, it just isn’t the only thing.
Number of Transactions in the Last Two Years
This is a more important number. The average agent does 6 transactions per year. Find out what they have done and why. you might find an unusually valuable agent if they are doing more.
List Price to Sales Price Ratio (vs Area Average)
This number tells you how invested the agent is in selling homes for their highest dollar. If they get more than the area average they might be a talented marketer and negotiator.
Average Days On Market
Beware the agent who habitually sells in just a few days. In this market, it usually means the agent is going for the easy and quick deal, not necessarily the best deal. Similarly, if the average is above the area average they might have a habit of quoting a high price to get the listing and then telling the seller to reduce their price. This is not a bad strategy as long as the seller knows that is the plan.
Average Dollar per Square Foot (vs area average)
Average Dollar per Square Foot helps illustrate an agents ability to sell the home for more money.
Solo vs Team
Either can be great for a seller. Take time during the listing interview to find out how everything gets done and who is responsible for your ultimate satisfaction.
Even solo agents have people who help them out, even if it is a shared resource like a transaction coordinator. Find out who is involved and what their duties and responsibilities are.
Most real estate reviews are written at the request of the agent. Therefore, most reviews are super positive and 5 star. However, there is still much you can learn. No one is good at everything and you’ll see what your potential agent can do and, by omission, what they do not.
List of References
This is similar to reviews. Everyone on this list will say glowing things about the agent. Listen to what they do NOT say and have a few questions prepared that reflect your unique concerns.
The answers to these next questions are to give form to the questions you ask in the actual interview. You will likely receive a list of “features” (I do this, this and that). You are looking past this to see if that goes beyond writing a check (i.e. “professional photography” is just writing a check. “I have the best architectural photographer in the land and his photos are shown in Dwell Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and Claremont Life” is unique)
Almost all agents will specify they “ensure your listing is seen on hundreds of real estate internet sites such as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com”. Look for an answer that goes beyond the simple syndication to these sites.
How will the home be shown? Find out what they do to make this intrusive process more convenient, less stressful and more effective than the others.
There are at least four separate negotiations in every transaction. Find out if the agent has thought about negotiation strategy or if they are just “winging it”.
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