You’ve made the biggest investment of your life by buying a home. You’ve lived there, made memories there and likely fallen in love with every square inch of it. You’ve made it a reflection of your families’ life and personalities, and you’ve made it beautiful. For one reason or another, you might decide to move and you’ll need to sell your lovingly cared for home to someone else, someone who you hope will love it just as much as you do. How do you find the right person to help you do this?
In a sea of Realtors, it’s nearly impossible to know who the “best” are. It’s likely that you have a friend of a friend who recommends a Realtor, or your brother’s girlfriends’ cousin is a Realtor who would like to help you. But how do you know that they know what they’re doing? How do you know that they will have your best interests at heart?
Here’s a few things to look for in a Realtor, if you are ever thinking of selling a home.
1. Personality. This one is obvious but worth mentioning, nonetheless. You will be forming a personal relationship with your Realtor that will last for at least a few months, and quite longer if they keep in touch with you after the sale, like they should. They say a buyer knows whether or not they like a home within the first 30 seconds of walking in the front door. I say, you’ll be able to tell whether a particular Realtor is a good fit for you and your needs within the first 5 minutes of talking with them. Are you looking for an aggressive, master negotiator who doesn’t take no for an answer? If so, then you should look for signs of those qualities at your first meeting. If the Realtor is agreeing to everything you suggest, or seems uncertain in speaking and presenting information to you, then they might not be the best suited person to portray your needs/ wants during a negotiation.
2. Experience in your local area. If you are selling a home in Davidsonville, and have been given a recommendation for an agent who’s primary focus area is in North Baltimore, it might not be a good match. Make sure you choose an agent who has a history of selling homes in your local area. That person should be aware of the local market trends, the neighborhoods and community amenities, and they might even have buyers who they are currently working with that they would like to show your home to. A local expert will be able to compare your home to the other homes that they have already seen in person in your community, and give a well educated recommendation on price based on those comparisons. A local expert will know other agents in the area who they will be able to specifically market your home to. More than once, I’ve sold homes before they ever went on the market just by emailing agents in my area and letting them know I had a new, desirable listing. You definitely want to choose an agent with a strong local presence.
3. Marketing, Marketing, Marketing. Gone are the days of Realtors simply placing a home for sale in the MLS and watching the clock tick down until it sells a few days later. It’s just not that easy anymore. At the first meeting, your Realtor should present a comprehensive marketing plan to you. This plan should include all of the steps that the Realtor will take in marketing your home in order to attract the most buyers. A good marketing plan is composed of many things, but the following are some things that should definitely be a part of it.
– A list of websites that your property will be placed on.
– Samples of fliers or brochures that the agent has used on previous listings. Professional quality full color brochures are the best.
-Samples of print ad’s that the agent has used on previous listings. These could include newspaper ad’s or other local real estate publication ad’s.
– Details on mailings that the agent will send to your neighborhood announcing your home is for sale. These are traditionally called “Just Listed” cards, and they should be mailed out to the areas surrounding your home within the first few days that it’s on the market.
– Professionally taken photos of your home. I cannot stress this enough. Do not let your agent take photos using their own camera. With 90% of buyers searching online for homes, the photos are the single most important feature that determines whether or not they will schedule an appointment to see it. I am surprised weekly, if not daily, when I see low quality home photos on a listing online. The agent should absolutely hire a photographer to take your photos. I’s amazing what the magic of a wide-angle lens can do. I will refer to my previous post on this issue so you can see why it is so important! Please read How Not to get Photo-Bombed in Real Estate, and another wonderful study that shows that homes with professional photos tend to sell for more money, and faster than homes that have amateur quality photos, here. Whatever you do, do not let your listing photos end up here.
– Open Houses. Almost as often as I see bad photos, I meet agents who say they don’t do open houses. I cannot understand why not. Most agents say that they don’t do them because they think it is a waste of time and they say buyers do not come to the open houses. I can only say that they must not be doing them in my area. If you live in the Anne Arundel County area and you want to do an open house, unless there is a Redskins or Ravens game on that day, people will come. Open houses are a way to bring buyers into your home who may not necessarily want to be committed to using a Realtor just yet. They may be in the early stages of looking…great! Even if they do not write an offer on your house, they will leave feedback about what they thought of your home. Your Realtor should ask everyone that visits to sign in and leave feedback for you to see when the open house is over. The feedback can be especially valuable to you as a seller. If you are not receiving a lot of showings, the open house feedback may be the only way you’ll know what buyers are thinking of your home. Now, in order to get buyers to come to the open house your agent will have to advertise it promptly and properly. The open house should be advertised online on all of the major home searching websites; Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Homes.com and of course, the agent’s own personal website. The open house can be advertised up to a week in advance, in order to create a buzz among the neighborhood. I personally have sent open house invitations to all of the residents in the community where the listing is located. I have found many times that your neighbors can be your best asset when selling. They often have friends that would like to live in the community, and they will tell their friends about your home. Signs are also very important. The more open house signs that are displayed around the area, the better. If the only people who are seeing your open house signs are the ones who are entering and leaving your community, you probably won’t have the best turn-out. Signs should be everywhere. Also, ask your realtor to do more than one open house, especially if you aren’t receiving a lot of showings.
There are many qualities to look for in a Realtor, and these are just a few to get you thinking. If you are considering selling, think about making a list of the things that are the most important to you and try to look for a Realtor who matches those qualities. If you ever have any real estate related questions, I’m happy to answer them for you!
“Turning Your Dreams into an Address!”