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What questions should we ask potential listing agents?

My husband and I are looking to sell our house in the coming weeks, this is our first house so we are new to the whole process. We were very unhappy with the agent we bought the house with and don't want to make the same mistake 
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January 11 2013 - Florence
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"3. Look for the initials"

Although I would agree with the other two suggestions, I would skip looking for initials. They are a marketing concept more than a certification that the agent is good at that type of transaction. The best predictor of whether an agent is good or not is their past performance and how they click with you not the initials behind their name.

Checking with past clients, asking people you know about their recommendations and carefully interviewing an agent before you hire them are the best way to pick a good one.
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January 19 2013
Choosing the right real estate agent is so important. Beyond the usual questions you should ask ("Are you full-time?" "Do you belong to the Multiple Listing Service?" "What services do you offer?"), here are three other things to consider:

1. Talk with clients

Previous clients hold the key to finding out whether an agent did a great job. Ask for a list of all the homes the agent has listed in the past year, along with the sellers' contact info. Make sure the list includes homes that were not sold but were taken off the market. Ask what was original price, what did the house actually sell for,  how long was it on the market, overall impression of the agent and his/her staff.

2. Look up licensing

Each state has a board that regulates real estate agents. You can search online to find out if agents are licensed and whether there have been disciplinary actions or complaints against them.

*Finding out if your agent is licensed in a particular state is especially important in "border" areas. For instance, many agents in the Charlotte / Rock Hill area serve both North Carolina and South Carolina, which means they can list and show you homes in either location. However, there are a fair amount of agents who choose to be licensed in only one state.

3. Look for the initials

A real estate agent takes a general course to become licensed. But the best agents go even further -- they will get additional training, plus specialize in certain kinds of real estate sales.

  • LS (Listing Specialist): Completed additional education in representing sellers in a transaction.
  • GRI (Graduate, Real Estate Institute): Completed an extensive study of professional services
  • CNE (Certified Negotiation Expert): Completed course in proactively and successfully negotiating sales
  • CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Completed additional training in handling residential real estate.
  • E-Pro: Completed additional training in advanced real estate technology
  • SSS/SFR (Short Sale/Short Sale and Foreclosure): Completed course in policies, procedures and forms designed to streamline the short sale and foreclosure process.
  • SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

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January 19 2013
After narrowing down the field like the previous posters suggested ask the ones you feel comfortable with Are you FULL time?   a full time agent generally takes their job very seriously. There are many agents out there that "dabble' in real estate so they might not be the best. 
  Another thing to ask for is referrals. Chances are if their previous clients were happy you will be too. 
  Don't rule out the smaller boutique agencies over the largest one in town. The internet has proven to be a great levelling field when it comes to buying or selling real estate and the smaller company might just work harder for you. 
  I like to suggest to people (outside my area) when they are looking for a agent to list is to go to open houses in their town and chat with the agent there. If he or she is representing the property well and you have a nice chat then you may have just found your agent.
  Once you do find your agent be sureto  listen to her advice and use her expertise. 
 Good luck.   
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January 11 2013
Profile picture for wetdawgs
I'm so glad you are asking the question.  There are some great agents out there, some lousy ones and a lot of those who are just average.    Your plan to interview potential listing agents upfront is excellent so that you aren't pulling your hair a month or so after getting your home on the market.

I would plan on interviewing 10 or more on the phone.   Of those, perhaps having three coming out to see your home, provide CMAs and a marketing plan would be reasonable.  Here links to a number of Zillow guides on the selling process.

Question to ask when interviewing a listing agent.


When to call a listing agent


How to negotiate with a listing agent.

Avoid these costly mistakes when selling a home.



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January 11 2013
I would interview at least three, they will automatically tell you all the ways they will market your house but really pay attention to how well they are listening to your needs and what is is that THEY are asking you. They should be attentive to your needs as a seller, your timeline. That being said, really pay attention to how they got to their list price in their market analysis. Also, ask how strong are their skills at negotiationg. I think the most important thing is do you get a good feel that you will be able to trust and work closely with this person and do they have your needs first in mind?
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January 11 2013

Hi Florence, Your level of comfort with an agent is very important - just as you mentioned not wanting to use the previous realtor.  Ask for references ffrom other satisfied sellers, ask the number of sales in the last 12 months, what you can expect from the agent such as routine follow up to market changes, phone calls about showings, open houses, and of course ask what you need to do to help sell your home.  Take the agents advise on removing personal decor, neutralizing, addressing taste specific things in your home and price your home well.  It is ok to test the market, but when your realtor suggest a reduction if no showing activity or offers have been received, take their advise and adjust the price.  Wish you lots of success in selling your home.

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January 11 2013
 
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