You can’t just throw money at a real estate agent and expect that you’ll do nothing else until that agent sells your house. This kind of thinking leads to inevitable frustration when you don’t understand why your agent isn’t selling your home, and your agent wonders why you aren’t more actively involved with preparing it for sale. But knowing what to expect from your real estate agent, and what that agent expects from you, can help you find the best seller’s agent to fit your needs. Here’s a complete guide to working with real estate agents, and how to choose the right real estate agent to sell your home.
Why You Shouldn’t Cut the Middle Man
Undeniably, sellers‘ agents work for commission. The higher the price your house can sell for, the more money you’ll get, and the healthier that agent’s paycheck will be when the transaction closes. The right agent can help you earn more in the long haul than you could save on the short end by cutting the agent out altogether.
You do not pay the agent up front, and you’re not necessarily hiring someone to work for you. That’s a misconception. The reality is that the agent agrees to work with you, using their experience to increase the sales price of your home, and then takes compensation from the proceeds.
The agent assists in advising how to get your house ready so you can increase its value, put together a marketing plan to promote your home, show your home and host open houses, will facilitate negotiations and contracts, and then make sure the transaction stays on course. It’s well worth the cut that agent takes for you to use their services in conducting the successful sale of your home.
An experienced, competent agent will provide a lockbox along with regular reports about who has accessed the box. You’ll also receive email reports updating you on inquiries about the property so you know what is buzzing. In other words, your agent keeps you in the loop about prospects, problems, and offers.
Assess the benefit an agent brings to the table and don’t just pick one that sounds cheap, throw some money at it, and then expect your agent to wave a wand and have your house sold within 24 hours. There’s more to it than that.
The Role of Your Real Estate Agent
Here are some of the offerings you can expect a professional, experienced real estate agent to bring to the table to help you sell your property.
Pricing: When you’ve secured your relationship with your real estate agent, your first order of business will be to set a competitive sales price for your home. Contrary to what some believe, that agent should never tell you matter-of-factly what price tag to put on your house for sale. This pricing should be achieved through an open discussion in which your agent lends you his or her expertise so you can make an informed and educated decision.
To determine the best price, your real estate agent will provide you with a comprehensive market analysis, also known as a CMA. A CMA is a report detailing data about recently sold homes in your area, new homes listed, and current competition, giving a clearer perspective on current market value. You’ll receive an updated CMA every 30 days until the house sells. Next, the agent comprises public records information about your property and then examines the property inside and out to determine its condition, living space, features, and areas of concern, similar to what an appraiser would do to determine the fair market value of your home.
Your agent may help you discover ways you could increase the value of your home through the art and science of staging. Advice for increasing value through staging could include things like painting certain walls or rooms, having the carpets cleaned, removing clutter, packing away personal items and decorating with more neutral imagery like that of a model home. You may be coached on how to create curb appeal, and little tips and tricks of the trade for getting your home viewer-ready with just the right ambiance.
You can help your agent succeed by being open to receiving their advice, and being willing to follow through with agreed upon tasks such as having the home cleaned or the yard landscaped. Don’t argue with your agent and insist on an unreasonable asking price, and don’t cut your agent short by undercutting the price just to expedite the sale.
By the end of this first step, you’ll know approximately what your house is worth in its current condition, and what you may be able to garner if you invest a bit of time and money into staging. You’ll then agree on a plan to update the home so you can list it at a fair price.
This first step is also a great chance to work closely with your agent to create a healthy foundation for the rest of your experience with selling your house.
Marketing: Your agent’s next task is to plot the course for your marketing plan of action. You’ll have a full-on discussion about what takes place, in what order, and in what time frame. Your agent taps into the MLS to gain maximum exposure for your properties, may supply high-quality yard signs with contact information, and could use also use social media avenues for posting about your house for sale. Some agents utilize print materials such as flyers or classified ads in the print newspaper. Talk with your agent about your plan. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
Part of your marketing plan will be to obtain high-quality, professional images of your home, inside and out. Additionally, you should be prepared to create a virtual tour for distribution on major websites.
You can help your agent succeed by asking any questions you have ahead of time, inquiring about ways that you can assist to “push” the property on your social networks, etc.
Private Tours and Open Houses: The next course of action for your agent is to physically show potential buyers your property, inside and out. Your real estate professional invites people to tour your home, at which point the agent educates homebuyers about the features your property offers and why it’d make a great home for their household. The agent talks about local schools, area amenities, nearby transportation, and other selling points of your community to nurture the sale.
In some cases, these showings are private and the agent will pre-arrange with you days and times when the home should be available by appointment for showings. Other times, you may need to prepare for an open house, an event your agent hosts that allows buyers and their agents to tour the home throughout a specified day or weekend.
You can help your agent succeed by having your house show-ready. Show ready means the house is tidy, welcoming, and smells good. For example, make the beds, do the dishes, pull the used towels from the bathroom, give the toilets a quick scrub. Once you’ve done a quick cleaning routine, fresh baked good in the kitchen is a great way to make guests feel welcome and put some “feel good” vibes into the space.
If you have pets, find a secure place for them to be during showings. Not only can pets be uncomfortable with strangers parading through the environment, but also not all homebuyers are pet-friendly or may have allergies. It’s best to protect the pets and the people by making plans for the day. You may also want to find a comfy hang out spot away from home during showings. Your energy could disrupt the energy of buyers, or you may find yourself upset by some buyers’ off-putting and insensitive comments. But don’t worry. Your agent will furnish you with full reports on guests to the home and their feedback.
Offers and Negotiations
The next step along the journey to selling your home is in receiving, reviewing, negotiating, and accepting offers. Your agent will notify you of every single offer that comes in the door, and they’re not likely to sit on the information for a long time without you knowing. Remember, your agent wants to sell the house at the highest price possible in the shortest amount of time to the most qualified buyer. You want the same things. You’re after the same goal.
When it comes to whether or not you should accept an offer, send back a counter-offer, or reject an offer, your agent can absolutely not tell you what you should do. That decision has to come entirely from you. However, your agent can help you better understand the offers, contingencies, and chances of success in getting to closing without interference.
When you find an offer that you feel is best for you, or you’ve counter-offered and negotiated to find agreeable terms with the right buyer, your agent will then help you draft, process, and sign contracts. Read the contracts carefully and ask your agent about anything you do not understand.
You can help your agent succeed by being open to hearing all of the offers without responding emotionally, ready to receive and apply advice your agent provides, consider varied contingencies, open to various forms of funding, and don’t be unreasonable with your requests of expectations.
Overseeing Next Steps
The house has to be inspected, surveyed, and appraised before closing day. The title has to be checked for holds or liens and the paperwork filed for a title transfer. The lender has to have the loan processed and payment to the escrow agent before closing. Whole bunches of people now climb on board the ship to get your transaction from this phase to the closing table. Your agent will communicate with you openly throughout this process so you have a full understanding of what’s going on and when.
How to Find the Right Agent to Sell Your Home
Now that you know a little bit more about what you can expect from your real estate seller’s agent, and what you can do to assist in the successful sale of your home, it’s time to find your match. So how do you get from the awareness of what a good agent does to the point of having a good agent you can trust to do the best job for you?
Start by asking those you know. Which of your friends, family members, associates, work-mates or other acquaintances have recently bought or sold a home? And if that doesn’t work, you can always do an Internet search for an agent near you. Whether you heard of the agent through a friend or discovered them on the Internet, your next step is to read the reviews, study the ratings, and find out what kind of record that agent has. When you’ve narrowed down your list by agents in your area that have good ratings, refine those agents again by specialties or niches. What are their certifications? What areas of town do the agents specialize in? When you’ve paired down the list again, it’s time to set up some interview appointments.
Interview agents based on the expectations you have of what a real estate agent does or does not do. Feel out how satisfied, confused, relieved, or uncomfortable you feel with how agents answer your questions. Make sure your personalities match. Ask about commission rates and suggested sales prices, but be cautious of highest sales price or lowest commission, as those are usually red flags for underlying problems.
Remember, you and your real estate agent are a team working together with the end goal of selling your house as fast as you can and for the most money. Your agent wants you to succeed as much as you do, and there are actions you can take and tasks you can tend that can expedite the process and increase the chances of higher-priced offers. Work with your agent, understand the processes, and remember to refer that agent next time someone you know asks who you know in real estate.
Call The Wright Choice Team today at 804-307-2589 to tour available homes for sale in the Chesterfield County area.