One of the sayings in real estate is, “there is a buyer for every home.” The same could be true about real estate agents. To homeowners, it seems like there is a real estate agent for every house.
If you believe in the first cliché, then eventually, you will have an offer and a buyer at the table. Who you select as the listing real estate agent won’t make or break the sale of your home. Now, think about real estate horror stories. Those buyers or sellers probably wished they’d been more thorough about picking their real estate representative.
What the right listing real estate agent does is become your partner in the transaction process. Their job is to make sure you meet your selling goals and do so any timeline that makes sense for your home. They take on the burden of marketing and qualifying buyers.
You should trust your real estate agent has your best interest at heart. When you don't have this confidence, it impacts the sale of your home. A listing agent with the wrong marketing strategy leads to a home lingering on the market for far longer than it needs to. Buyers will wonder what’s wrong with the home the longer it sits. Choosing the wrong listing agent could lead to a personality conflict. Selling and moving from your home is challenging enough, butting heads with your real estate agent is the last thing you need.
How do you go about choosing the right listing real estate agent to represent you in your home sale? Follow the steps in this checklist.
1. Ask yourself, “what do you want in a listing agent?”
Everyone wants something a little bit different in their listing agent. You're going to work pretty closely with this person to attract buyers. You want someone who gels with you and exceeds your expectations.
Some homeowners prioritize communication. They want a listing agent that's going to touch base with them frequently, even if there's not a lot of buyer interest activity happening at that particular moment. They at least want to know what is being done to attract buyers to the home.
Other homeowners want a listing agent with some personality. They want someone who seems genuine and authentic. They expect someone who cares more about the people side of the real estate than making commissions.
Homeowners with a particularly unique property or an exclusive neighborhood might want someone familiar with their niche.
Some homeowners prefer real estate agents with years of experience or have pursued additional education and their field. Other owners don’t mind working for a real estate agent newer to the industry, thinking they will be more motivated and hungry to sell the listing.
So do a little soul-searching. Think about what you expect from that person who's representing you in this real estate transaction. Carefully weigh how you want to engage with your listing agent, as communication is key to a successful relationship.
2. Talk to people
Ask the people in your life about the real estate agents they have used to sell or buy homes. Especially ask the people that you trust or anyone who has recently sold their home. While it's nice to have your coworker recommend their friend, it's better to get a recommendation from someone who actually used that real estate professional.
The most important question you could ask when seeking referrals is if they would use that real estate agent again. Dive into why or why not. Ask them if there was anything they would have done differently.
3. Do research
If you're getting ready to sell your home, most likely you have been looking at comparable home prices and other homes currently for sale in your area. Bring the same kind of due diligence into investigating listing real estate agents.
Start by doing an online search query with your neighborhood plus “real estate agent.” Don't just put “Fort Worth real estate agent” in Google. Our city is large and diverse. Be specific and get hyperlocal. Think, “Tanglewood real estate agent.” This search query will reveal any real estate agents who specialize in your particular area or neighborhood. Their knowledge of comparable properties and what the typical buyer profile for your area will be an asset in your home sale.
Another angle to consider is if you have a unique home. Rather than a hyperlocal neighborhood search, it may be better to do an internet search for a real estate agent who specializes in your home type. Take, for example, if you have a historic property. Your home may have additional considerations for home buyers, like staying in compliance with the Register of Historic Homes.
Some real estate specialists to find would be for luxury properties, land and ranch properties, or particular architectural styles, like modern or contemporary.
During your research, look at recent home sales in your particular area or home niche going back one or two years, depending on the number of sales. Who has frequently sold properties in your neighborhood? The more homes they have sold, the more familiar they are with your area and the buyers.
Another tactic to learn about real estate agents is to attend open houses. Real estate agents host open houses to attract buyers, but they're also used as a tool to find prospective clients. Go to an open house of a real estate agent you were thinking about working with and see how they are marketing that property. Talk to them and get a feel for their personality.
4. Research the brands
On the surface, all listing real estate agents offer similar services: to help sell your home. However, these agents are working for different brokerages. To compete in today's market, real estate brokerages are differentiating themselves through creating different tech tools to assist with selling. They’re also building specific brand reputations with the goal of better servicing their customers.
Think about what it is that you might want from a real estate brokerage. Do you want a boutique kind of experience or do you want to leverage the power of an international brand name? Does that particular brokerage offer any specialized tools that will help them market your home?
5. What kind of experience do you want?
On a simplified level, most real estate agents operate in two ways.
The first is as an individual. This means one person handles everything in a transaction from start to finish. They are the ones that will call you back, come to the listing appointment, put your home information on the MLS, be at any open houses, do the negotiations, and everything else.
A second method is a team approach. You typically have a leading real estate agent or leading real estate broker. They have a few people operating under them that handle different aspects of the real estate transaction. While you do talk with the lead listing agent, sometimes it might be their sales associate that calls to set a showing appointment. Someone else might call to schedule the photographer to come to your home. In other words, you may be talking with two, three, or more people during the course of the home sale.
There's no right or wrong choice. The individual approach and the team approach have advantages and disadvantages. Everyone has their own particular preference. You'll need to weigh those and think about what kind of real estate selling experience you would like to use.
6. Shortlist your real estate agents
Combine the information you have gathered from talking to people, researching online, and weighing what kind of experience you would like during the transaction. Create a shortlist of real estate agents, perhaps no more than eight names.
Go to their individual websites and read their biographies. Look at how they market properties. Scroll their social media networks and read those online reviews. Select three to four real estate agents based on what you can find as top contenders.
7. Set up meetings with the agents
Contact each of the top choice real estate agents for your initial meeting. Some listing real estate agents will offer to come to your home while others will want to meet you in their office. The decision may be dependent upon both of your schedules and what is convenient for both of you. Some listing real estate agents prefer to have the initial consultation in the office rather than seeing a property that they may not win as a listing.
When you have a meeting with the real estate agent, go prepared with a list of questions you would like answered. Make sure these are the same bullet points for all the meetings so you'll be able to compare and contrast the different real estate agents. For some ideas on what you need to know, see 15 Things to Ask Your Listing Agent.
Remember to take notes during the interview and write down your initial impressions after the interview.
Some things to pay attention to during the appointment:
- Do they ask you any questions? Some real estate agents launch directly into a sales spiel without getting to know why you are selling or what your particular goals are. When you're a second or third time home seller, you don't need the same information as a first-time home seller.
- Do they give you a pricing range? Pricing a home properly is a particular art form. In the end, there’s never a guarantee what your final closing price will be. Many different factors will play into the number that your home initially lists on the market. These include its location, what's happening at the hyper-local level, or anything you have done to improve the property. You need to make sure the home is priced right to entice buyers, and so you don't need to reduce the price later. When a real estate agent gives you a specific number, especially if that number is much higher than what the others give you, that means they are really trying to win your bid and not being considerate of the market.
- How do they handle communication with you? Pay attention to how they communicate before, during, and after your listing meeting. Did they confirm your listing appointment? Did you get a follow-up of some type to thank you for meeting or to see if you've made a decision yet?
- How do they tackle photography? Visuals are incredibly important in the real estate business. It doesn't matter where your home falls in terms of price point; you need the best photos you can get. Be cautious of any real estate agent who says they take the photos themselves. We are great to salespeople, but we are not always the best photographers.
- How well do they know your area or your particular house type? Definitely ask them questions about sales they have done in the area or your home niche. Picking a listing agent familiar with the neighborhood increases your chances of attracting the right buyers because they know how to frame the messaging.
- How tech-savvy are they? Modern home buyers typically start their home search online. Select a listing agent paying attention to trends and using the latest technological tools to market your home.
8. Follow up with references
Take the listing real estate agent up on any offers to talk to references. Online reviews and listings are great, but they tend to either be really negative or really positive. Yes, the listing real estate agent will probably only give you people who had a glowing experience. At least you can ask the owners what it is they liked about working with that particular agent.
9. Make the decision
Once you've done all of your research and you had the listing appointment meetings, the final decision is down to you. Take into account your home sale priorities and the different personalities of the listing real estate agents you interviewed. Think about the people who gel with you the most. Factor in everything they told you about your particular home, neighborhood, how they market, and the advantages of using their brokerage.
Never feel pressured to make the decision. Take as much time as you need to feel confident the listing real estate agent is the best choice to represent your needs. Remember, they're going to be your partner, but they're also working for you. Think of it as hiring an employee.
Communication is one of the most important things that trip up any real estate transaction. How will they be in touch with you and how frequently? Consider how well you communicated with the real estate agent in person and online.
Choosing your Fort Worth real estate agent
At Chicotsky Real Estate Group, we understand hiring a listing real estate agent is an important decision. We love working with area homeowners to represent their needs and interests in real estate. As natives to the Fort Worth area, we have extensive knowledge about the different neighborhoods in our city. We would love to talk to you about representing you in a home sale.