One pervasive myth about seller real estate agents is all we do is plant a sign on your front yard and put your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
It is an understandable perception: if you’re not familiar with the real estate industry, much of the work happens away from the sellers. All the sellers see is the sign in their yard, the open house advertising, and maybe a social post. What you don’t see is the hours of strategy and research, the multiple calls to buyer’s agents, or the years spent building a brand reputation that buyers trust.
You may not always see the work a listing real estate agent is doing to market your home, but the right advice and the right strategy means a huge difference to your bank account and time spent waiting for an offer. Picking the right listing agent to represent your interests and your home is a huge decision.
The primary responsibilities of a listing agent
Not all real estate agents do the same work. Some will do both sides but risk a dual agency transaction. Others focus exclusively on buyer representation or seller representation. This is because working with buyers and sellers has different roles and responsibilities. Real estate professionals representing the sellers are called a seller’s agent or a listing agent.
What is the role of a listing real estate agent?
- Represent sellers’ interests
- Research market trends and strategize how the seller’s property fits into those trends
- Market the property to draw as many prospective buyers as possible
- Handle negotiations with the buyer or their agent representative
- Advise sellers through the transaction process
Let's break down what a listing agent does and their value to the transaction.
The first thing most homeowners want to know when selling their home is, “how much I get for this home?” It makes sense: most sellers are hoping to tap into the equity. Common scenarios hope to roll the proceeds into the purchase of their next home, to use the capital to fund retirement, or to pay off debt.
In the end, how much to list your home is up to you, but a listing real estate agent serves as your educated guide. Think of it this way: would you initiate a lawsuit without consulting an attorney first to see if you have a case?
How much your home is worth is a tricky question. Sure, a quick search will show various home value calculators and estimators. One is found on Realtor.com®. A common value our buyers reference is the Zestimates found on the listing website Zillow.
The truth is how much your home is worth is what the buyers are willing to pay for it.
So how do listing real estate agents predict what buyers will pay for your home?
One way is looking at comparable recent sales, but even this method isn’t an exact science. Say one price seems much lower than other homes in the neighborhood of similar size and design. It might be the seller had to move out quickly and was willing to take a hit. Maybe the property needed major renovation work. Both scenarios impacted the price. And what about a list price that seems higher? Maybe the seller chipped in for closing costs but raised the selling price to compensate.
Comparable recent sales work best when they are similar to your home: bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, location, and features. But if your neighborhood hasn’t had many closings in recent months, some sales may be out-of-date by a year or more.
This is why appraisals can be stressful for home sellers and their listing agent. Everyone crosses their fingers and hopes the agreed-upon price matches the appraised value.
Listing agents use comparable market analysis as a starting point, but with an understanding of what those sales really mean. Listing real estate agents also factor in market activity. Is it a seller’s market or a buyer’s market in your particular area? Does your home have something unique? What’s the time of year? Those of us with years of experience start having an intuition about when activity is picking up or slowing down.
We’re also talking with real estate agents and potential buyers. When someone visits an open house, we’re asking for their feedback about the home and its price. We’re paying attention to what they are willing to pay for homes and their included features.
The data paired with our experience is what informs our pricing advice to our clients. In the end, people who use a real estate agent net an average 25% more than if they had not used an agent.
Pricing is so important. Too high and the home will linger on the market. Buyers will start to wonder what’s wrong with the property. You’ll have to drop the price or accept lowball offers.
Too low, and you risk losing out of money on the deal.
Home pricing is an invaluable skill that listing real estate agents have finely honed.
When a home seller says their goal is to achieve maximum value for their property, a listing real estate agent knows what has to be done to make that happen. The same is true if their goal is to sell quickly.
Not all homes suit everyone’s particular tastes. But we can take measures to make the property more appealing to a wider buyer range and highlight the home’s best attributes.
Positioning advice does include staging, but depending on your situation may include other advice.
For example, let’s say your roof is aging. Maybe it can last another three to five years, maybe not. If you’re not in a rush to sell, replacing the roof now could woo buyers and bump that list price a little bit.
As for staging, that doesn’t necessarily mean renting furniture from an interior design company. It just means opening up spaces and making them generally appealing. Especially if you need to stay in the home while you’re selling, highlighting home features with better placement of your furniture will make it more attractive to buyers.
When listing agents look around a home, they see what needs to happen to make the home look more spacious and attractive.
So yes, a listing agent might ask you to consider painting some rooms or move some furniture into storage. They may ask you to consult with a professional home stager.
But they’re also going to talk about how they’re planning to position your property on the market. Maybe it’s in a desirable school district or five-minute drive to shops. Maybe it’s a historic home with lots of character someone would love. Listing agents know the best angle to play to market the home.
Assist with preparations to sell
Listing agents know the improvements that are needed to gain maximum value for the home. We cultivate extensive networks of professionals that have anything and everything to do with houses. If you need a specific service, we can give recommendations on everyone, from carpet cleaners to painters, to get the job done well for the right price.
Anything and everything can happen when a home is listed on the market. You never know when you need a service professional and fast. One of our clients once had a vehicle strike their home! We used our professional network to connect the clients with the right contractors to repair the property and get the home to closing.
In some cases, it’s a good idea to consult with a home inspector before the listing. The inspection will tell you the things might need work. Our market knowledge allows us to advise you which repairs would be worth their money or if it is something left best left for the buyer and discounted in the price.
Most buyers want move-in ready homes. Any work we can do beforehand helps position your property on the market better and gain the most value possible.
Do a search on any MLS or listing website in any zip code. You’ll find home photos of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Photos with the owners still present lounging in a chair, some too dark to adequately see the space, and even photos with weird filters that make the spaces look from the 1980s.
In an image-driven business, it’s a wonder how so many homes end up advertised on the market with bad photos. But they do.
The first thing that’s going to sell your property to today’s home buyer is photos. Of today’s buyers, 87 percent found the photos very useful and 46 percent found virtual tours very useful. Many people won’t step into your home unless it has ten or more photos that really illustrate what the space is like.
Sure, it’s tempting to “do-it-yourself.” Our modern smartphone cameras are pretty amazing and do capture some incredible shots. Unfortunately, they still aren’t as good as professional home photos.
Listing agents are scrolling real estate photography all the time. We know which photographers will best highlight your home’s features. A listing agent will hire someone they trust to get these pictures since they will form the backbone of marketing your property.
Simply put: lousy home photos will cause your home to lose out on potential buyers.
Marketing client properties is a major component of what listing real estate agents do. The best agents don’t list the home on the MLS, pound a sign in the yard, and hope for the best. They actively promote your home in different ways.
For sellers considering FSBO, getting onto the MLS is crucial. Placing the home on MLS is the best exposure for the property because everyone will see it. A listing agent makes sure it gets on there.
Real estate agents have built a network of other real estate agents who they know could have real, prospective buyers for your home. They’ll know how to target them in their marketing efforts.
Listing agents also strategize other ways to promote your home, and all at their expense. We’re talking cross-promotion from the MLS to different listing websites, social media, and email blasts. They’ve thought about what’s going to attract a potential buyer to your home. Their copy and photos place your home in the best light. Through training, we know the best things to say to bring in an audience.
Today’s sophisticated real estate software options allow listing agents to target their marketing to people who have searched for similar homes in your neighborhood. Even print advertising is still an option, with blasts in real estate magazines or local neighborhood papers.
The agent schedules and runs open houses on the property. They’ll print the applicable information, make marketing flyers, brochures, and other materials to promote the open house.
The best listing agents track the property’s exposure. They can tell you where your property was promoted, how many people viewed it, and how many clicked through to learn more. And they’ll be following up on those leads to get them through the front door. The more people who see your home, the greater your chances of a successful sale.
Home selling is bursts of activity followed by waiting. There’s the initial prep work when getting the property ready to list. A bump of buyer interest when it comes to the market. Then time passing, waiting for offers. A flurry of activity when negotiating. More waiting as the home moves towards the close.
A lack of communication is the top complaint people have when working with a real estate agent. Sellers wonder what is going on with their home. Is the listing agent actually doing anything when you don’t hear from them?
Good listing agents will tell you about the activity happening around the home, even if there is no activity to report. But they can share their marketing reports to show the strategies they’ve been deploying even when the showings aren’t lined up back-to-back. They’ll discuss any feedback they’ve been receiving from buyers and what to do in response.
Qualifying the buyers
Not everyone is the right prospect for your home. Open houses attract curious neighbors and even just “lookie-loos.” Some people who think they can buy the home haven’t actually talked with a lender. In reality, they may not be able to afford your home.
Listing real estate agents help sort the buyers from pre-qualified to pre-approved. The difference is in how the information is verified. You want buyers that have spoken to a bank, had their credit pulled, income verified, and received a go-ahead for the loan.
Real estate agents keep the prying eyes away from your home and focus on serious buyers.
A listing agent’s job is to represent your interests in a real estate transaction. We know what you want to gain from the home sale and how to get it with different negotiation tactics. Plus, we keep the emotions out of the negotiation process. It can be very personal to sell a home, especially if you’ve made many memories there.
When you receive an offer, your listing agent will have gone through the paperwork and noted key information to point out to you beyond the price. A good offer may not be the one with a higher price. Buyers can play around with closing dates, money down, and more when submitting an offer.
A listing agent will advise you on how to counter the offer to make the deal better for you. Their mission is to secure you the best terms possible to close the deal.
A home is an asset, but it’s something personal to you. When you’re emotionally invested in something, it can be hard to negotiate without emotions involved. A listing agent knows this. They can negotiate calmly and confidently on your behalf. We have a talent in presenting offers in their best light, knowing when something is a fair deal, and when the buyers might be serious.
Once you’ve agreed upon the offer, the listing agent will assist with the paperwork and moving onto the next phase of the real estate transaction.
What will you get out of a listing agent?
A listing real estate agent is your advisor through the selling process. People who use the right listing real estate agent sell their homes faster and for more than they would have otherwise. We come with honed skills to move home sellers through the process and help them achieve their goals.
With Chicotsky Real Estate Group, you’re getting a team with deep local market knowledge backed by a powerful brand name. Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s is committed to an exceptional home selling experience and has created marketing tools all designed to push your property towards the right buyers.