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Five Ways Not to Choose a Real Estate Agent

Starting to think about listing your home for sale? As you begin your search to choose a real estate agent here are some sales pitches you may hear, and why you may want to discount them.

1. I work with one of the biggest brokers in the business.

Real Estate BrokerageYou may not know it, but most real estate agents aren’t employed by their broker / brokerage. They’re independent contractors. The broker provides marketing, office space, technology, and training in exchange for a cut of their agents’ commissions. The marketing that they do has nothing to do with helping you sell your house. Their focus is on recruiting more agents.

And if you think that listing with a large brokerage will get you better exposure to buyers you’d be wrong. Buyers search for homes on the Internet, and almost all brokers share listing information via the local multiple listing service (MLS). In fact, if a prospective agent recommends that you not advertise on the MLS you should read my article on pocket listings. The benefit is that any home listed for sale on the local MLS will appear on every linked website, so even a small independent brokerage’s listings will be advertised everywhere, including on the biggest national sites.

2. I sell lots of homes

TTeamhere’s no doubt that you want to work with an experienced agent, but selecting someone based on their volume may not be your best bet. Mega agents who focus on volume often don’t have the time to work with individual clients. In fact they may actually try to minimize the time they spend on actual transactions because their expertise and focus is on lead generation. Once they convince a potential client to sign a listing agreement they’re passed on to their team who does the actual work of buying or selling. Mr(s) Mega Agent may have a great team, but don’t expect to deal directly with him/her on the actual transaction.

3. I have a huge team

See #2

4. I have a buyer for your home now

So do I. In fact I’ll buy your home for the right price. But even if your listing agent does happen to know of a potential buyer any first year marketing student will tell you that the way to get the best price for a product is to market it to the largest possible pool of potential buyers. This means that you want your home listed for sale via the MLS which will guarantee that a potential buyer will find it no matter where they look. And keep in mind that there’s the potential for a conflict of interest if the buyer of your home is unrepresented or is represented by someone on the listing agent’s team.

5. I’ll advertise your home on my fancy website

As I explained in #1 above, any listing that’s on the local MLS will appear on all websites. And this is exactly what you want. Some agents may also promise to “feature” your property on one or more websites, which means that it will appear at the top of the page. This certainly can’t hurt, but the fact is that the great majority of buyers have an agent representing them, and professional buyers’ agents don’t do their research on retail websites. They have much more powerful tools that are built into the MLS. So here’s the real reason your listing agent wants to “feature” your home for sale. They want unrepresented buyers to call them directly and sign up as a client. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, it’s just not a benefit to you, the seller.

Better Ways to Choose a Real Estate Agent

So what should you look for? In my opinion the most important skills you need from a listing agent are market analysis, preparation and staging, negotiating, and transaction management. Here’s my quick list of criteria:

  • Choose a full time agent, someone who’s only business is real estate.
  • Make sure that you know who you’ll be working with on the transaction and make your choice based on their skills. Is it the agent making the listing presentation or someone on their team?
  • Size doesn’t matter. Exposure on the MLS guarantees that your listing will be seen everywhere.
  • Buyers make their first level decision on the Internet, so make sure that your agent includes staging services and professional photography.
  • Ask about days on the market and list price vs. sold price for recent transactions. In today’s market well marketed homes should sell quickly at near or above list price.

Have more questions? Give me a call and I’ll do my best to provide answers. As all my friends will tell you (while rolling their eyes) I love to talk about real estate.

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