Unless you’re a seasoned real estate buyer and seller, the typical listing presentation can often leave you overwhelmed and dumbstruck. In order to really make the right choice when choosing an agent to represent your home, it’s critical that you become an active participant in the listing presentation—it should not be a one-way street! To help glean as much information as possible about a prospective agent’s prowess, be sure to ask him or her the following questions. The responses will provide you with valuable insight into their strategies, professionalism and enthusiasm.
1. What did the last home you sold in this area go for? Not only will this give you a good idea of the going rate in your neighborhood, it will shed some light on how familiar the agent is with your neighborhood and its home values.
2. How many homes have you personally listed and sold in the past year? This question will help determine how experienced the listing agent is with the community, and the level of overall experience they can offer you.
3. Are you an active member in the MLS in which my home is physically located? This will determine if the agent can or cannot adequately represent your home in the market. Some agents are from just outside the area and will have limited access. This can and most often will limit your homes exposure to potential buyers and other agents who are assisting buyers in their search.
4. How will you expose my home…and how will you follow up with leads? A standard part of any good listing presentation will highlight the various ways in which the agent will promote your home online through their own website as well as various real estate portals, such as realtor.com, homes.com and others. While it’s good to know the type of exposure your home will receive, it’s more important to know the agent’s system for following up with leads—some are much better at it than others! Ask them how quickly they respond to leads, how they determine whether a lead is serious or not, how they follow up and keep the lead engaged after initial contact, and what sort of information they provide to pique a lead’s interest. This will give you an idea of not just the quantity of leads you may receive, but the quality of the agent’s follow-up.
5. What’s your opinion on open houses, and how do you make them worthwhile? Believe it or not, open houses are a hot-bed of controversy among real estate professionals. Many agents believe they’re not worth it, so ask your prospective agent these questions: a. Will you hold an open house on my property? and b. If so, what will you do to make it worthwhile? An effective open house is dependent on a lot of factors, such as the creative strategies an agent uses to draw people to the event, how they collect information during the event, and how they follow up with attendees afterwards.
6. What can I do to help my home sell for a higher price? A good agent will be able to tell you what enhancements would be worth your while in terms of selling price. You don’t want to invest money on renovations that don’t translate directly to the bottom line. Also ask what changes might help sell your home faster. This could involve simple cosmetic changes like paint and/or some effective staging.
7. What factors will detract from my home’s value? If your home is not going to list at the price you had hoped for, ask the prospective agent why. If there’s some pet damage or a defective swimming pool that’s going to detract from the selling price, a good agent should let you know that up front. Be sure to meet with at least three agents prior to choosing one to work with. While their listing presentations will help differentiate them, their responses to the above questions will really seal the deal.
8. What type of photos do you use to represent your listings? Ask to see a copy of properties currently listed by the potential listing agent. As the old saying goes… A picture is worth a thousand words, good or bad. Quality images are the key. Listings that include poor quality images will tell you if the agent is committed to helping maximize the value of your listing.
9. How many years have you been selling Real Estate? Understanding how much of an agent’s past business is made up of listing representation vs. buyers can be critical. This will help you determine just how much listing experience the agent can offer you. Not all agents have the same qualifications. Lack of listing experience can easily translate into loss of dollars to you!
10. Can you provide me a list of references from recent sellers that you’ve represented? This is a key question. A qualified listing agent should be well prepared to provide this information without hesitation. The lack of recent references usually equals very limited qualifications!