The experience of selling a home in Atlanta starts with choosing a listing realtor to guide you through the home-selling process. The two most common questions home sellers ask realtors are: how much is the property worth and what’s the commission? Ironically, the National Association of Realtors says few home sellers have additional questions of any substance after the Big Two are answered.
People tend to hire listing realtors intuitively, on looks and feelings. But Atlanta home sellers give themselves the short shrift by not probing further into the realtor’s background and credentials. Selling a home is a very big deal. As a home seller, you owe yourself the comfort of knowing the realtor you choose is better than other agents you interviewed.
A better approach to choosing your listing realtor is to treat that first meeting as if the realtor was interviewing for a job. This is precisely the purpose of the first meeting. Ask questions that will give you insight into the realtor’s competence. Then decide. Here are some questions that might help you in choosing a listing realtor.
What’s your experience?
Experience is important. Experienced realtors bring know-how to the home-selling process and should provide comfort. But you should not get too enamored with the realtor’s experience and awards. Lack of experience should not rule out choosing a newer, inexperienced realtor as your listing agent. Experienced realtors sometimes burn-out and not have the work ethic as newer realtors. When interviewing newer realtors, probe to find out the training and support they get from their broker. New brokers can get intensive training, a little training or no training, depending on the broker. Generally, the part of the commission the broker keeps is directly related to the training the broker gives the realtor. Brokers that give their realtors intensive training and support keep more of the commission.
What’s your marketing plan?
This question is critical. If your listing realtor does not aggressively market your home, the likelihood of it selling sooner than later is greatly diminished. Probe to find out the realtor’s approach to marketing listings, starting with the first steps after getting a listing. Ask about current listings in the realtor’s portfolio you can check online to assess visibility. Evaluate the quality of photos used. Find out if the realtor uses virtual tours, an important selling tool in today’s real estate market.
How do you plan to stay in contact with me?
As a home seller, you’re entitled to have a reasonable expectation of status updates from your listing realtor and the frequency of the updates. Nothing is more aggravating than playing phone tag. Be it phone or email, you can avoid frustration and confusion by establishing the timing and the best mode of communication beforehand.
Will you rep both sides of the transaction?
As counter-intuitive as the question may seem, Georgia has a “Dual Agency” provision in its Brokerage Relationships in Real Estate Transactions Act. BRRETA allows brokers to represent buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. Dual agency is outlawed in four states and ten more states are considering doing the same. Though dual agency is legal, seldom is it a good idea for many reasons. You’ll sleep much better knowing your listing realtor is representing your best interests when you have an exclusive listing agreement with the realtor.
What is your recommended sales price for my home?
The realtor can show his or her professionalism by being prepared at that first meeting to answer this question. A recommended selling price should be based on a Comparable Market Analysis the realtor conducted beforehand in preparation for the meeting. CMAs should be of homes of similar size and amenities as yours that sold in your area within the last three to six months and include homes listed but expired. CMAs can get dated in a buyer’s market when there’s not much selling activity to provide good comparables. This can make setting a reasonable selling price tricky. You want to avoid over-pricing the home out of the market; under-pricing is far less of a concern. If the home is under-priced, the rush of prospective bargain-hunters will drive the price up to a point you can live with. Avoid getting carried away with the realtor who promises the highest price. This could be a ploy to get your business.
What are your references?
Don’t forget to ask for references. Get the names and contact info for three current or former clients who used the realtor to sell their homes within the past 12 months. Make contact and find out their level of satisfaction with the realtor’s performance, work ethic, and if they had any issues working with the realtor.
What will the commission be?
This is an obvious question you should not forget to ask. Keep in mind that real estate commissions are negotiable. Nothing is etched in stone. According to recent figures, the national average for real estate commissions is 5.4 percent. Upnest rates Georgia’s real estate commissions as follows:
Unusually low: under 4.5 percent
Great commission: 4.5 – 5.0 percent
Good commission: 5.0 – 5.5 percent
Above market: above 5.5 percent
Once you’ve selected the realtor you want to sell your home, draw up a formal agreement that spells out the details. Include language that bars dual agency and that specifies the commission you’ll pay.
I welcome being interviewed by you hoping to be your listing realtor. Contact me today.