How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

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tj-longterm
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How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by tj-longterm » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:34 pm

OK,

We're moving across the country in a few months and we've decided we'd like to sell, not rent our current house. We *don't* need to sell it before we move, although of course, sooner would be better.

I've never sold a house before. How do I choose a realtor to help me sell? If we were moving in the same city, I'd consider selling it myself, but it very well may be on the market after we leave.

My neighborhood has had some bad valuations recently, so it's unclear what the price of our house should be. The thing that worries me the most is that the incentive for real estate agents is to sell as quickly as possible at whatever price, not to get the best price possible. How do I find one that will at least make an effort to sell for a good valuation?

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randomwalk
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by randomwalk » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:45 pm

Ours was recommended by friends who had used him. Talk to people you know who've recently sold houses in your area.

hlfo718
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by hlfo718 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:57 pm

When I sold my house I contacted my friend, who was an agent. She told me I can go as low as 2% for commission and her boss was ok. I also gave her a side deal where if she was able to sell above my asking price within a certain time frame I would comp her personally an extra $500. She sold my house above asking within a month.

Most agents wouldn't care if she sells your house at 200k or 205k since the diff is marginal for her, only $250 in this case before any commission split. She may only get $100 for getting you an extra $5 thousand. Most would rather spend the extra time trying to sell the next house.

Make sure you put down on the contract who is paying for staging and other advertisements. Also, in my opinion, don't sign an exclusive since this may not be the best deal for you but a good deal for your broker.

Ask your broker for advice as to how to price your property and ask how she got her numbers. Ideally the comps should be near your neighborhood in similar size and condition that have been sold recently.

Good luck.

hicabob
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by hicabob » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:08 pm

One house I called the local real estate board and asked them for the names of a few local top performers - then interviewed them and picked one.
Worked out very well - hot-shot agents get a lot more traffic, are better at pricing and can't be intimidated by the other agent.

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TheGreyingDuke
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:10 pm

The last two houses I had I sold myself without a broker. The first one was back in 1984, pre-internet days, and I placed a few ads in local weeklies, posted signs up at neighboring higher ed institutions, contacted local schools (looking for referrals to incoming staff) and sold it very quickly at asking price.

More recently, 2008, used Craigslist and a For Sale By Owner website and sold it to a couple from California (house was in Vermont.) Sold it for $5000 over asking, an all cash sale and we each hired lawyers who did the transaction while I was in China and the purchasers were in California. We have subsequently become good friends with them.

Preparing the house for sale is essential, there are many good guides out there on de-cluttering and removing things that might distract potential buyers from the high points of your house.
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells

dpusa
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by dpusa » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:11 pm

I recently did the Dave Ramsay ELP thing - in the end listed using a Flat Fee MLS service for $500 plus 0.003% of the sale price (e.g $300 per $100k).
I have emailed a flyer to all the neigbouring buy side agents and have had 4 viewings in the first week. Whether it sells, who knows - but thought I'd try it myself first.

dpusa
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by dpusa » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:13 pm

TheGreyingDuke wrote:
Preparing the house for sale is essential, there are many good guides out there on de-cluttering and removing things that might distract potential buyers from the high points of your house.
Agree with this 100% - we de-cluttered, de-personalized quite a bit without making the house sterile and ensured our front curb appeal was maximized where possible.

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PaddyMac
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by PaddyMac » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:55 pm

+1 on staging. In this market, it pays to be the nicest house they've seen that day. Start picking up those Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupons and hit the sale racks for pretty candles etc. We watched HGTV "Designed to Sell" religiously for a few months before we sold and picked up some great tips on decluttering. We rented a storage unit and packed away anything we wouldn't need for a year, thinking that is how long it would take. The house sold in 4 days. The realtor said we added $100K to the house getting it ready.

As for picking one - you'll know it when you see it.

What impressed us about our guy (he was a top selling agent too) was that he genuinely liked our house, he hired a staging consultant, hired a professional photographer (none of this snapshots of the realtor in the bathroom window crap), set up a domain name just for our house, and printed a glossy brochure. He worked with us to fix anything he saw wrong. All of this is included in the 5% fee, and was well worth it to sell so quickly in mid-2008 when the writing was on the wall...

The realtors we didn't pick were not enthusiastic, hemmed and hawed about the difficult market and how hard it was to sell, pointed out all that was wrong with house that would reduce the price, and on and on.... I couldn't imagine them selling anything!

tj-longterm
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by tj-longterm » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:26 am

Thanks for all the advice. Will stage, definitely -- we're already getting rid of stuff, cleaning up, and putting things in boxes. Will be talking to some agents soon. Let's hope this works out well!

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pointyhairedboss
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by pointyhairedboss » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:06 am

Here is a "Bill of Rights" of a local realtor. Ask your prospective realtor if they can match and if they can't, why not...

http://blog.franklyrealty.com/2007/03/c ... agent.html
Last edited by pointyhairedboss on Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

ddunca1944
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by ddunca1944 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:33 am

When we sold our last house, we had a total of six agents come to gives us estimates. Three did not bother to bring comps with them. We crossed them off our list. If they could not be bothered to bring comps, we wondered how much effort they'd expend selling our house. Of the three that did bring comps, one stood out in her organization, her analysis and she had a specific sales plan. None of the oer agents showed the level of detail and preparwtion that she did. We signed with her. The house sold for our asking price in 11 days (that was in 2005 at the peak of the market).

My advice is to get a minimum of three estimates (4 or 5 would be better) and don't list with an agent that doesn't bring comps.

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DiscoBunny1979
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by DiscoBunny1979 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:49 am

In this market, depending upon location, you don't want Comps just based upon houses that have recently sold. These sold prices could be foreclosures, they could be auctioned, etc. You want comps that are recently sold AND houses that are listed and not sold. You also need to know of those that have sold, what were the circumstances. Since the OP is not in a foreclosure or auction situation, they won't want a foreclosure or auction price if they can avoid it. Also on staging - Staging whereas you dress the house up with nice furniture in certain places and smart decorations might work in some areas, generally, the only recommendation I would make is to declutter by boxing up everything and putting most things in storage. The only the that remains in the kitchen are a few plates and silveware. The only thing that remains in the bedroom is a finished bed. Nothing in the closets. One dining room table and chairs - especially if the eating area is not very defined (i.e. obvious space or sperate dining room). Finally, clear out the garage. Most of the staging that's necessary to sell house comes form de-personalizing it, and I'm sorry last poster, no candles. Some people don't like perfumey scent of candles or the idea of candles - even unscented. Candles are a personal touch.

muhtar1938
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by muhtar1938 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:12 am

I'm curious about the issue of depersonalizing. Our turn-of-the century home has been on the market for two years. Of course, the market in my area has been depressed at lest that long and virtually all comparable homes in our area have been listed for that long, and not selling. Ours couldn't be more "personalized," since we have it in turn-of-the century style; just about everything is at least 90-100 or more years old. Our agent never mentioned depersonalizing our home. Wouldn't people still look at your personal decorations and imagine how they would change things to suit their taste? Thanks for any feedback. Muhtar

tj-longterm
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by tj-longterm » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:18 am

muhtar1938 wrote:I'm curious about the issue of depersonalizing. Our turn-of-the century home has been on the market for two years. Of course, the market in my area has been depressed at lest that long and virtually all comparable homes in our area have been listed for that long, and not selling. Ours couldn't be more "personalized," since we have it in turn-of-the century style; just about everything is at least 90-100 or more years old. Our agent never mentioned depersonalizing our home. Wouldn't people still look at your personal decorations and imagine how they would change things to suit their taste? Thanks for any feedback. Muhtar
I've wondered the same thing, but I think that for whatever reason, that's harder to do. I've definitely noticed that when browsing real estate listings, I am almost always drawn to photos of rooms that are mostly (or sometimes completely) bare. The rooms look bigger and nicer, and it's far easier to picture moving your own stuff into an empty space. In fact, I've been making an effort to consciously counter this bias, because it might cause me to miss otherwise great deals.

hidesert
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by hidesert » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:29 am

I just bought a house and will give you a buyer's perspective. First, listing at too low a price will not be your problem. All the houses we looked at had been listed too high originally and had gone through reductions in listing price. Buyers just won't look at a house priced too high. Second, fix anything that needs fixing. Keep the place maintained and keep the heating/AC on! We could tell by musty sour odors when this was not done and it was a huge turnoff.

There is a shortage of high quality, well maintained homes priced correctly on the market right now. There is a lot of junk and some unrealistically priced houses out there. We missed opportunities on several nice houses when their listing price was lowered into our range and they were snapped up immediately.

Miskatonic
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Re: How to choose a real estate agent for selling a house

Post by Miskatonic » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:40 am

I had to sell my Dad's house in Florida two years ago and was plenty intimidated about doing it in that market from out of state. I flew in and interviewed agents from several companies (about 6 total). All came with comparative materials for the local market, some more detailed than others. Some of the agents gave me surprisingly high estimates for the house others, much lower. I liked one agent who was somewhere in the middle and had a calm, no non sense style.

I had feared that this nearly 50 year old house which needed lots of work would cost me tens and tens of thousands to update and refurbish. Not one of the real estate agents suggested I do so. Have the Merry Maids come in, keep the lawn in good condition and that would be enough, "You'll never get your money back". Everything I saw on TV about updating kitchens and baths apparently was not valid. As it turned out, at least in my situation, they were right. The house was filled with my late father's furniture and the couple that bought it asked for several pieces and appliances to stay with the house.

Another thing to consider is the agent's percentage. You might think that throttling back the agent's fee to the minimum will give you the best return and thus best result. I didn't know until it was explained to me that agents who are selling will share part of their fee with buying agents. So, agents with clients looking to buy will be more highly motivated to bring them to selling agents who will be receiving larger fees. Even if you don't need to sell your house before moving or buying your next house, you do not want your house to languish on the market any longer than is necessary. The spotlight really is the brightest on your home in the first weeks of its debut on the local market. The longer it stays the less desirable it is viewed as being. Get the house sold.

I feel I was lucky. I got the house sold in a down market in a very down state to a couple for whom it was a perfect fit and did it in about 10 days. They asked for about a 50K under asking price. My agent said, "drop it 5K". I did and they took it!

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