Pacific Beach Real Estate, Mission Beach Real Estate, San Diego County Real Estate
Before I entered this profession, I would stress over how to decide which REALTOR® was best suited to sell my home. How would I select from the many agents who would salivate at the thought of my listing? How would I screen them? What tool would I use? Is there a standard of practice? What should I ask? Should I interview two, three or more? Should it be based solely on business acumen or should a personality factor be part of the decision process? How about referrals from friends or the agent´s past clients? Would the designations which the agent possesses play a part?
Yes, these questions and more used to "bug" me. In the end, I never really employed a set methodology or well thought-out list of questions when I interviewed the agents I spoke with.
If I had, the selection would have been better based on facts and informed knowledge rather than purely on gut instinct. Don´t get me wrong, instinct is important but, given the amount of commission money which is at stake, it makes sense that the decision as to who you select to market and sell your home should be based on more than just a "gut feeling". Additionally, I want you to think hard about this. Given that our market here has changed from one that was a pure seller´s market to one which has trended toward buyers, would you not agree that the selection of the "best" agent has become even more critical?
Yes, buyers have gained leverage, are wielded more power, and are choosier.
Homes are also staying on the market longer and prices aren't rising as quickly as they once did. It is definitely a market which has transitioned to one favoring the buyer. That being the case, who do you want on your side marketing your property and representing you at the negotiating table?
To be frank, in a strong seller´s market, most any agent can take an order. But in a market like the one we are now in, the agent you choose better be the one who possesses experience, training, sales expertise, marketing skills, reputation, referral connections and more in order to succeed. This person better be the absolute best agent you can find. If it was important before, it is critical now.
OK, so what to do? Certainly a great referral from a family member, friend, or if you are relocating to the area, a referral from your home town agent, is a good place to start. Also, a call or two to the agent´s past clients will definitely help. Yet, even with a referral it is best to have at your disposal a list of questions which any reputable, experienced and well-prepared agent should be ready and eager to answer.
So, what do I have for you? I pledged early-on in my real estate career to generate a list of questions which, if I were selling a property, would pose to every REALTOR® who I was considering in representing me in the sale. The list below, while a "work-in-progress", is the same list which I provide to every potential client when I meet them during a listing presentation. While maybe not the "final word" and under constant revision, I do think that these questions provide you with a great starting point. You may also want to consider placing this article in your files for use when it comes time to sell your property.
- Are you a REALTOR®... a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and the California Association of REALTORS®? Yes _________ No_________
Note: Members subscribe to a strict code of ethics.
- Are you a full time REALTOR®? Yes _________ No _________ Or part time? _________ Do you hold a Real Estate Salesperson's (Agent's) license or do you have a Broker's license? ______________
Note: To attain a license, agents must successfully pass one basic 40 hour course and state exam. Brokers, on the other hand, must successfully complete numerous college level courses, pass an all day state exam equivalent to the Bar and have a minimum of 5 years of professional real estate experience. Agents & Brokers both represent clients but, given the far greater experience & training, why not opt for a licensed Broker?
- Do you work for a national firm or one which is just local? ________________________
Note: Listings receive much wider exposre when listed by national firms.
- What real estate specific professional designations do you hold?
Note: Have the REALTOR® denote which designations he/she has and what they mean. Important: By all means, ask if they hold the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation. If so, you are dealing with an individual who has extensive formal training and experience in selling residential properties & limiting your legal exposure. Only the top 4% of REALTORS® nationwide hold this designation and you will be best served by hiring one.
- What level of formal education have you achieved? ________________________________________________
- Do you have an assistant who will help manage my contract to closing? Yes _________ No _________
Note: Indicates whether the REALTOR® has sufficient manpower to efficiently handle your closing so that there will not be problems along the way and that closing will not be delayed.
- Do you have a written marketing plan? Yes _________ No _________
If so, may I see it? _________
Note: Critically important as this indicates whether the REALTOR® has a set game plan to market your property.
- Do you have a personal website where potential buyers may find my home? Yes_____ No_____ If so, what is the domain name? __________
Note: 73%+ of buyers today do their initial shopping over the internet when they begin their search.
- Do you use virtual tours to market the homes you list? Yes_____ No_____
- How many different real estate specific search engines will be provided my listing? ______
Note: Obviously, the more the better. See # 8 above.
- Do you generate flyers/information sheets for the homes you list? Yes_____ No_____ Note: Flyers are an important marketing tool so that buyers can take pertinent information with them after visiting the home or just driving by. These should be placed inside the home as well as outside on the sign post. Also, do you mail "Just Listed" postcards? Yes _____ No ______.
- Do you employ a toll free phone recording which will enable potential buyers and agents to call and hear your voice and a description of the home´s important features? Yes_____ No____ If so, does the system page you with the caller´s phone # so that you may call them back? Yes_____ No_____ If so, can you demonstrate how this works? Yes_____ No_____Note: Again, another critical marketing benefit to sellers.
- Do you conduct open houses on your listings? Yes_______ No_________. If so, describe the methods you use to advertise them______________________________. Note: The agent should be proactive by advertising open houses on-line with REALTOR.com, OpenHousesSanDiego.com, etc.
- How often will I hear from you after my home is listed? ________ Also, do you employ a formal feedback system which allows us to hear or see agent and/or buyer feedback after showings? Yes ______ No______ Note: The single biggest complaint of both sellers and buyers is that the communication link between the agent and client lacks in frequency. Get a commitment from your REALTOR®.
- What can I do to help sell my property? __________________________________________________
- How confident are you that you can sell my home? __________________________________________________
- Do you have a list of recent past clients who I may call to ask them how their transaction was handled? Yes_____ No_____ If so, may I have one? Does the list contain ALL recent clients or only the ones you have chosen to include? _________ Note: Having a complete, not abridged, referral list of past clients indicates that the Realtor is proud of ALL of his transactions not just some.
- What is the current market trend?_________ What is the average number of days that it takes to place a home into escrow (commonly called "Days On Market") for a home like mine in my neighborhood?__________ Again, in my neighborhood, what is the average sale price as a percentage of list price? ________%
- Will you pay for both my home´s property and termite/pest inspections? Yes______ No_____ Will this be accomplished in advance of the property going on the market so that these can be used as marketing tools? Yes___________ No_________
- Do you publish any real estate periodicals which will attest to your knowledge, experience or presence in the industry? Yes__________ No__________ Can you please provide samples? _________________________________
- In order to ensure the widest possible visibility of my home to people who are relocating to the area, are you connected to any global and/or national referral networks? Yes_________ No_________ Can you please identify these networks? _____________________________________________
- What is your success rate in selling your listings? ________ Over the past 3 years, how many of your listings expired without being sold? __________
- Do you provide a written "Unconditional Listing Guarantee" to your seller clients whereby you will release the client from the listing agreement if they are not 100% satisfied? Yes_________ No_________
- Do you provide a written "Client Quality Service Guarantee" which delineates the delivery of all the services you promise? Yes _________ No _________
Will I have the opportunity to evaluate your services in writing after the closing on my property? Yes _________ No _________
I would like to find out how your past clients have rated your service. Can I go to a public website and access an independently validated satisfaction record? Yes _________ No _________
- If the property is multi-family: Do you have specialized knowledge of and experience in marketing/selling multi-family properties? Do you employ special software which can demonstrate to potential purchasers, important financial aspects of the property (i.e., cash flow before and after taxes, depreciation, etc.)? Yes _______ No__________ Do you personally own investment type properties? Yes ________ No_________ Do you subscribe to on-line services which specialize in and only list multi-family properties? YES________ NO________
Whew! That´s quite a list of questions, eh? Enough and so specific that you will should not only have a pretty good idea if the person sitting across the table is "your guy" but asking such questions will also demonstrate to the agent that you are knowledgeable and expect the best service possible.
I do hope that this list of questions will help you to make an educated and informed decision regarding the critical decision of who you choose to represent you in the sale of your property. By the way, I would love to hear from you should you have a question or two which has worked well for you personally. Last, please let me know if I can E-Mail this list of questions to you.