Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Point2.
Selling your home can be a nerve-wracking experience for the uninitiated. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone, and with a good listing agent on your side, the whole process can be plain sailing.
But, even with a listing agent, things don’t always go to plan, especially if you’re not on the same page. Before you hire a listing agent, knowing that you can comfortably work together is essential.
With that in mind, here are questions to ask your listing agent to ensure a smooth sale and the best deal you can get.
1. What Are Your Credentials?
First of all, you must ask any potential agent about their credentials. Selling your home is a huge and often complicated transaction, so it pays to work with the best.
Ensure that any agents you’re prospecting are fully qualified, work full-time, and are up to date with the latest regulations. Essentially, you want someone who lives and breathes real estate.
For the best results, seek out someone who specializes in selling homes, i.e., a listing agent.
Realtors tend to be trained to a higher degree than real estate agents, and their code of conduct states that they must remain up-to-date with industry regulations, completing regular exams and certifications.
2. What Is Your Recent Work Experience?
As well as credentials, it’s helpful to work with a seasoned agent, particularly one with experience selling similar homes in your area. Now is a good time to crunch some numbers, too.
Ask how many properties they’ve listed and sold in the past six months and how long they typically stayed on the market.
Take the time to think about their answers here.
An agent who has sold many properties in six months looks excellent on paper, but have they got a good price each time? Or do they have a habit of selling fast but cheap?
3. Are You Familiar With the Neighborhood?
Selling a home involves much more than simply selling a brick-and-mortar dwelling. You need to sell the dream and give potential buyers an idea of the new life they could have once they move into their new home and neighborhood.
A listing agent who is familiar with the area can do a much better job of selling that dream than one who doesn’t know the neighborhood.
From discussing essential aspects, such as the state of local schools and amenities, to smaller details, like where to find the best pastries, it all goes a long way to convince a buyer that this is the perfect home for them.
Finally, an agent who has sold homes in the area will typically be more up-to-date with the state of the local market, too.
As such, they’ll better understand who is buying and how much to list your home for, which leads us to our next question.
4. How Should I Price My Home?
This is a big one and probably the question you’ll most want to ask. Pricing a home accurately is no mean feat and requires striking the right balance.
Get it wrong, and you risk either selling for far too little or listing too high, and your home languishes on the market for months on end.
A good understanding of the local market is essential, from how much comparable properties have sold for recently to who’s buying right now — families, retirees, young professionals, etc.
Armed with this knowledge, a good listing agent can develop a strategy to ensure you get the best deal on your home.
Ask your agent how they’ve arrived at their suggested listing price and any strategies they have in mind for getting the best deal.
5. What Are My Responsibilities?
If you’ve never sold a home before, it can be challenging to know what you need to do throughout the process.
However, a good listing agent will be happy to discuss that with you, letting you know exactly what you need to take care of during the sale and what they’ve got covered.
6. How Can I Maximize the Value of My Home?
Sellers can make use of various tips and tricks when it comes to getting a better price for their home. However, it’s important to discuss this with your agent to ensure you don’t overdo it.
For example, many sellers believe they can add a hefty chunk of cash to their home’s value by remodeling the kitchen or bathroom. Unfortunately, things don’t often work out that way, and you can soon find yourself losing money instead.
Sometimes, a lick of paint, or even a deep clean, can do wonders without breaking the bank. Of course, in a buyer’s market, you might need to go above and beyond to get the best price.
Ask your agent what they think you need to do to maximize the value of your home and where to draw the line.
7. What Is Your Sales Plan?
A solid sales plan is essential to selling your home for the best price possible, and any good listing agent should be happy to discuss it with you. Ask what marketing tools and methods they plan to use:
- Professional photos and videos
- Virtual tour
- Social media
- Listing services
- Open house events
- Brochures and flyers
A solid marketing plan is essential to a quick and successful sale, so be sure your agent plans to go the extra mile. In this day and age, simply sticking a sign in the front yard doesn’t cut it.
8. What’s Your Commission?
While discussing the sales plan, asking about your agent’s commission is essential. Prices vary, but more expensive agents also tend to be the ones who carry out additional services.
Generally speaking, you can expect to pay between 5% and 6% of the sale price in agent fees. However, this is always negotiable.
9. What Other Costs Can I Expect?
Knowing how much it’ll cost to sell your home can take a lot of stress away during the whole process and help you avoid unpleasant surprises.
So, besides their commission, ask your agent what other costs you can expect during the transaction. This way, you’ll be able to create an accurate budget and determine whether this is the best time to sell your home before committing to the process.
Typical additional costs include:
- Legal fees
- Escrow service fee
- Renovation and redecorating costs
- Staging and photography
Check what services are included in their commission and what extras you can expect to pay in order to create a watertight budget.
10. Is Now the Best Time for Me To Sell?
If you don’t have to sell right now, it’s well worth asking if now is the best time to put your home on the market.
A good listing agent will have no problem letting you know if the market conditions aren’t favorable right now or if you could perhaps get a better deal in a few months.
11. Can You Go Over the Listing Agreement?
When you work with a listing agent, you must sign a listing agreement before selling your home. This legally binding contract grants your agent the authority to sell your home on your behalf.
Before you sign it, read through all the terms and conditions and discuss any aspects you’re not 100% sure about.
Most importantly, be sure to talk about the commission fee, the length of the contract, marketing steps, any clauses that relate to the failure to sell your home in the given period, and cancellation clauses.