Agents have fiduciary duties to their clients. If you are a seller, your best agent will price your home correctly, market it to the maximum number of buyers and negotiate the highest price and best deal for you. He or she will work hard for the commission.
So how do sellers find good agents? Some sellers choose the agent that will list their home for the highest price. Maybe a referral from a brother-in-law seems attractive. Many sellers interview several agents and pick one based solely on a 30-minute presentation in their home. All of these choices are wrong. A seller needs to understand the process of selling for maximum value and determine which agent will work best for you.
The best way to choose an agent is to visit Open Houses and see how the agents work, in real time. Who is effectively marketing and selling these homes in the neighborhood? If you are thinking of selling your home, remember...you want an agent that will price it right, market it to the greatest number of potential buyers and hold several Open Houses to maximize showings.
Below are seven items to investigate when picking an agent.
- Professional Listing. Start with the online listing of homes in your area. Look at the photos for clarity. Many buyers visit homes, for sale, based solely on photos from the Internet. Are the photos clear, not blurry or dark? Are the rooms attractive or are items, like dirty dishes and laundry lying around? Is the description of the home appealing? Listings should create an emotional response in the buyer to want to view the home.
- Street Signs and Flags. Are there plenty of signs out, if your neighborhood allows signs? Many potential buyers cruise different areas looking for Open Houses. Signs help to bring the maximum number of people to the Open House. Are there flags and signs in front of the Open House, so passersby will easily recognize it?
- Greetings at the Open House. How are you greeted when you walk in? Is someone smiling and making you feel welcome or is she/he sitting on the sidelines texting on an iPhone? If an agent isn't greeting potential buyers, the right buyer for your home may be overlooked or ignored.
- Staging. How is the home staged? Is it clean and filled with neutral colors which allow buyers to visualize themselves in the house. A home cluttered with memorabilia, knic knacks or photos turns off buyers who can't envision themselves in someone elses' home.
- Sign-in Sheets. The agent should make sure that all visitors sign the sign in sheets upon entering. These are the sheets that list all potential buyers and their contact information. When the information isn't recorded, there's no way to contact that potential buyer. An agent needs to be proactive with potential buyers, not sit by the phone and wait for them to call.
- Selling Strategy. Ask the agent how many Open Houses will be held and how will offers be handled. If there's one Open House, and the seller will accept the best offer, the agent hasn't fulfilled his/her fiduciary responsibility to the seller. At least two weekends of Open Houses and a weekday agents' Open House will maximize the number of potential buyers.
- Presentation of Offers. All offers should be reviewed after the last Open House, so the seller isn't taking the first one that looks good. In many cases, the sellers should counter. If the agent doesn't have a strategy for selling and presenting offers, this may not be the agent with your best interest in mind.
If you like the way an agent handles all of the above items, maybe a meeting is in order!