For home sellers, finding the right realtor to list your home is your most important task. Choosing the right realtor will lead to a smooth selling process and an easy sale. Choosing the wrong realtor could result in weeks or months of lost time, and tens of thousands of dollars in lost profit. But how do you choose a realtor? What kind of questions are important?
Your realtor has to know the business.
In most jobs, I think 1000 days is enough time to know the ropes. Since real estate is an every day type job, that means after three years your realtor will have learned the ins and outs of the job well enough to get the job done. Real estate is cyclical. The spring is busy and the winter is quieter. The market expands and contracts during the year and this influences the time to sell and the price. Your realtor after 1000 days in the business will have been through the cycle three times and know this.
Q: How long have you been a realtor?
Your realtor has to be committed.
When I first became a realtor, I thought I could dabble in it. I thought I could work as a realtor on weekends and in the evenings. I didn’t tell my other employer that I was a “secret agent”. I learned how to be a realtor slowly over the next two years, but it was nerve-racking and frankly I didn’t do a great job communicating with my clients or with other realtors. Your realtor has to be committed to the job. He has to be full time so he can react quickly to incoming communication.
Q: Do you work full time as a realtor?
Job and life experience.
The average age of a realtor is 56 years old. For most of us, real estate is a second career. What your realtor did before is important. Was he in a sales job? Did he have to communicate with others? Did he manage people? Information? Was he in a routine job? Was he in a real estate related industry?
Q: What did you do before you were a realtor?
In the short time that I’ve been a realtor (since 2007), I’ve seen the industry change. Many of the things that realtors used to do, don’t work (as well) anymore. Rarely, do I get a telephone call from someone who has taken down my number off a sign. Rarely do I pick up a new buyer at an open house, or a home seller from a postcard in a mailbox. The internet has changed the way realtors do business.
Q: What are you doing online?
Plan the work. Work the plan
Your realtor should have a detailed plan of how your home will be marketed. He should be able to show you a check list or time line of what is going to happen and when. Such things as, take photographs, upload listing, order yard sign, post card neighbourhood, hold open house…should be clearly laid out.
Q: What is your plan to market my home?
There are things you should do, could do and won’t do do get your home ready for sale. Painting and decluttering are a “should do”. A kitchen renovation is a “don’t” or “won’t do”. The return on investment of painting your living room is over 100% whereas the return on investment of landscaping your front yard is about 20%. A bad realtor will have you do a lot to get your home ready for sale. It will make his job easer. A good realtor will help you choose the “should do’s” only.
Q: What can I do to put my home in it’s most marketable condition at the lowest cost?
The one great thing about real estate is that we have statistics on everything. Working realtors have a pretty good idea of how much time it will take to sell a house and the price it will receive.
Q: How long will it take to sell my home and what price can I expect to get?
Communication is the key to success
The number one complaint I hear about realtors is that they don’t communicate with their clients enough. Communication is key to successful results. If your realtor is not communicating with you enough, then how good is he about getting back to potential buyers and other realtors, with answers to their questions and showing requests. How hard is it to send out a text or a quick email update? Not hard at all.
Q: What is your philosophy on communication?
There are as many ways to do the job of realtor as there are realtors working today. Some realtors believe in marketing themselves (and to a lesser degree, their listings) everywhere in newspapers, magazines, buses, benches, and postcards. Others are networkers. Some knock on doors. Others call on FSBOs. Some believe in traditional advertising. Some go after listings. Some are buyer’s agents. Some have a connection with a builder or a condo developer. Others get all their leads from online. Some think home staging sells homes. Others feel it is a waste of money. Some like to get a lot of listings and sell 75% of them. Other’s get fewer listings and work the heck out of them.
Q: What is your business philosophy?
Based on the school, the neighbourhood, the transportation, shopping and the demographics, within a couple of kilometres distance, the price of a home can vary by tens of thousands of dollars.
Q: How well do you know this neighbourhood?
Show me the money
Real estate fees are negotiable. The fees are split between the listing brokerage and the cooperating brokerage. As a home seller you should be able to negotiate the commission fees down without doing yourself a dis-service. If you and your realtor have agreed on most everything else, then there is always some room to negotiate commissions.
Q: Can we negotiable commissions?
Things don’t always work out as intended. It is important to discuss breaking the contract. There should be no fees, just a form to sign.
Q: How can I cancel if I’m not happy?
Check out these other sources. You’ll notice that some of the questions are on all of them. You may also notice that some other questions, I think are unimportant or even wrong or outdated.