Choosing a Real Estate Agent To List Your Home: How to Weed Out the Crappy Agents and Choose The Right REALTOR For You

Choosing a Real Estate Agent To List Your Home: How to Weed Out the Crappy Agents and Choose The Right REALTOR For You
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There are plenty of reasons you might be looking for a new real estate agent

Did you hated your last agent or just can't remember their name?  Did they retire to Boca Raton or did they jump ship when waters got rough?  Maybe you just want to test the waters.  Whatever the reason, there are some key things to consider when on the hunt for a new real estate agent

Searching high and low doesn't need to be crappy (oh yes, we went there)... here is what you need to know

Where To Look & Cross Reference:

  • Referrals: Ask family, friends, and even REALTORS from other markets for a referral
  • Agent Rankings: Chicago Agent Magazine Who's Who, Association Top Producers, and Company Rankings
  • Your Mailbox: Weird, right?!  But if an agent is focused on marketing to your building or area, they may be worth talking to
  • Testimonials/ Review Sites: Sites like Yelp and LinkedIn allow for reviews.  See what everyone else is saying!
  • Online: Look on sites like REALTOR.com to see agent profiles and which REALTORS have listings nearby

The Interview

Speak with the agent on the phone and get a sense for their personality.  They should ask you some precursory questions about your place; when did you buy, what do you think it's worth (give an honest answer!), and if you've made any upgrades.  Then do a followup meeting in at your home so they can see the property in person, you can meet one another, and they present a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) outlining recent sales and their opinion on what your property would sell for.  When you meet with them ask about marketing, commission, pricing, and steps to take for prepping to sell.

Marketing

Marketing is key to selling your home quickly and for top dollar.  Find out about how they plan to market your place;  where they push their listings on-line, glossy brochures, postcards to neighbors, etc.  The most important thing to ask about: Photos

Barry Bevis has an amazing site, Bad MLS Photos,  where all he does is feature terrible and awkward MLS photos.  Don't put yourself in a position where your home may be amongst this web wall of shame!  Your priority needs to be having professional photos with lighting and staging that showcases your home in the best possible light.  It is how you make your first impression and cluttered, dark, and out of focus photos  will .  To make sure your agent get's it - lookup their past listings and see how their photos look.  If you love the agent and not their photography, ask them to hire a professional photographer who specializes in real estate photography.

Pricing Strategy

Give your prospective agent a tour of your home and show them features you love, upgrades you've made, and any issues that may impact the value of your home (recent special assesments, rental restrictions, litigation, etc) prior to having an in-depth value. Your insights will shape your conversation on value.  After touring, go through the CMA look to see how you think your home compares to others that have sold.  While homes currently on the market demonstrate your competition, the best measure of value is what buyers were actually willing to pay (and banks to lend) for properties that have sold in the last 6 months or so. It is tempting to work with the agent that is willing to list it for the highest price but don't fall into that trap.  Good agents don't want to over-price your home because you risk wasting market time and losing value.  That doesn't mean you should under-value your property but listen to why they think it is worth something . If you have information they don't (what your neighbor next door is under contract for, a comp they hadn't considered, etc), fill them in and see if it changes their tune.

Commission

This conversation is inevitable and before continuing on, we must acknowledge the elephant in the room, as a licensed real estate broker,even your beloved Condoist has a bias on this one.  That being said,  when asking an agent to lower their commission keep these two things in mind:

  1. If they don't value their own services, why should you?  
  2. If they don't fight for their own money, do you think they will fight hard for yours during negotiations?

Other Factors To Consider:

  • Personality: If he/she too much of an Alpha Agent, they might upset both you and their industry peers - not good! Too soft? Don't fret Goldilocks - keep looking
  • Communication: You need someone who isn't MIA so gauge response time.  That doesn't mean on-call 24-7 but that you can touch base with them when you need to and that you set expectations from day one.  Make sure you are compatible.
  • Credentials: Ask about sales history, designations and certifications, and what else makes them the right agent for you.  No one of those areas defines a good agent but you want to make sure they know their stuff and that even if they are newer in the industry, that they have (and will use) the resources and expertise of their peers

One last  note: Just because they are licensed in your state, doesn't mean they are the best agent for your property.  Be sure they understand your market.

Choosing a real estate agent isn't easy but follow these tips and you are sure to make a good decision.

Ready? Set. Go!

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    The Condoist

    Rebecca Thomson is the Vice President of Agent Development at @properties, the largest independent brokerage in Chicagoland. She is responsible for training and business development initiatives for @properties’ 1300 agents. Before coming to @properties, Thomson handled residential sales, luxury leasing, and new construction for an international luxury firm. Thomson’s industry involvement is extensive and in 2013 she served as the President of the award-winning Chicago Women’s Council of REALTORS. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Association of REALTORS, chairs the Illinois YPN, and serves on state and national committees for the Women’s Council of REALTORS. Thomson pens a top real estate blog, The Condoist, for Tribune Media Group’s Chicago Now platform. She also speaks locally and nationally for the Women’s Council of REALTORS and the National Association of REALTORS on topics including leadership, social media, membership strategy, and business development. Outside of real estate, Thomson is dedicated to her community and serves on boards for both the Union League Club of Chicago and Step Up. She also founded Give Back Monday, a group raising funds and awareness for local charities through social media and events. In her spare time, Thomson is an avid reader, a scotch aficionado and a self-proclaimed foodie. Thomson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. Her professional recognitions include the National Association of REALTORS “30 Under 30” (2014), Chicago Association of REALTORS President’s Award (2013), Chicago Agent Magazine’s Who’s Who in Chicago Real Estate (2012, 2013), and RE/MAX Vision Rookie of the Year (2006)

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