The first smart thing you can do when either buying or selling a property is to hire a professional real estate agent. I know what you are thinking, “Of course you would say that! You are a real estate agent!” But I’m also here to say that if you attempt to do it on your own, there is a good to excellent chance that you will lose money – not save money. According to the NAR (National Association of Realtors) in the U.S., homes sold by the owner (FSBO) accounted for 10% of home sales in 2011. The typical price of an (FSBO) home sold for $150,000 compared to $215,000 for agent-assisted homes. So hiring a real estate agent that is an expert in their field, will not only give your home a wider audience, if you are a seller, but more than likely allow you more money in your pocket.
1. Do Your Research: To get started, I suggest going online and looking for agents using Google and certain keywords. For example, here in Windsor, I would suggest the following:
- New Windsor Real Estate
- Windsor Property
- Windsor Homes
- Windsor Houses
- Windsor Real Estate
- Windsor Realty
Based on this search, see what agents and companies come up with the most. Look at the top ten and review their websites. Do their sites look professional? Updated daily? Are they a proficient blogger in which they write about current real estate issues? Do they have a strong social media presence and use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and Pinterest. Do they have a Facebook Fan Page? Why is this important? Because this means an agent is well connected, committed and serious.
2. Demand the Best: Out of your list, pick three agents to interview. Here are some suggested questions to ask:
- How Many Buyers and Sellers Did You Represent Last Year?
- How can I reach you? What are your hours? When do you return calls?
- How long have you been selling real estate?
- How many homes did you sell last year?
- Do you have a website? Do you engage in Social Media?
- Do you use video and virtual tours to market your homes?
- Are you full time or part time?
- Is your commission negotiable?
3. Chances are, but the time you have interviewed three real estate agents, you will have a feel about which one will work well for you. But keep in mind those real estate agents that will promise you the moon. You know the saying: if something is too good to be true, then chances are it is. For example, it is not recommended that you hire an agent that promises to cut their commission at the first meeting. Why? New agents or ones that don’t sell that much, often use this as a tactic because they don’t have a record to stand behind. Agents that promise a very low commission, usually give no exposure to your home. To showcase a property effectively, takes time and money. If an agent knows they aren’t getting paid much, then the less they will do. What does this mean to you? It means your home will sit on the market longer, and when this happens, buyers figure something is wrong with your home and won’t schedule a viewing. So paying a 3 or 4 percent commission is MORE expensive if an agent does nothing more than posting your home on the MLS and a few ads in the local paper. A full service agent, were the normal commission is 6 to 7 percent, has a full-blown Internet strategy. After all, it’s not about how much you pay; it’s about how much you have left in your pocket when the house is sold.
Next up: How long should I sign a contract with my new Windsor real estate agent? The answer may surprise you.