Two of the biggest mistakes home sellers make when choosing a Real Estate Agent are selecting an agent solely based on the following two things:
- Highest list price for your home
- Lowest commission
It’s completely understandable since sellers want the highest possible price on their Halifax home and to pay the least amount of commission. But those two criteria have very little to do with hiring a great agent and, in many instances, are completely irrelevant.
The Highest Suggested List Price
Agents can’t tell you how much your home will sell for. That’s a fallacy. A good agent can show you comparable sales, pending sale and active sale. But YOU choose the sales price and a buyer will tell you if the price is right. A good agent can suggest the list price that will attract buyers. Where it goes from there is generally left up to the buyer.
- To get the Real Estate listing, some agents distort the truth.
Since agents can’t guarantee your sales price, the agent who suggests the highest price could very well be untruthful. Ask the agent to show you numbers supporting that suggested list price. If the agent has no stats or the home sales are located in a different neighbourhood, that could be a red flag.
- Look for a listing agent who gives you a range.
There is often, but not always, a price range. It might be apart $10,000 on the low-end versus the high, or the spread might be greater. Many factors determine the range, among which are location, the market itself and improvements in the home.
- Pricing is an art.
The best time for an offer is within the first 30 days on market. Twenty one days is ideal. If the home is priced right, you’ll get an offer. If it’s priced too high, you might not get any showings at all; buyers will shun your home and you’ll eventually end up reducing your price, leaving buyers wondering what’s wrong with your house.
Real Estate agents are not equal; each is unique. About 10% of the agents do roughly 90% of the business. Each has her own marketing techniques and advertising budget. By choosing an agent with a solid marketing budget, both online and offline, you might gain greater exposure to the largest number of buyers, which is ideal. Reaching greater numbers of buyers equals better chances of a good offer.
- Why would an agent willingly work for less than competitors?
There is always a reason why a broker or real estate agent would discount their real estate fee. Sometimes it’s the only way the agent feels it’s possible to compete in a highly competitive business because the agent can’t otherwise stand apart from the competition on service, knowledge or negotiation skills.
If the sole benefit an agent brings to a table is a cheap fee, ask yourself why. Is the agent struggling for business or less qualified?
Sometimes full service agents will negotiate a lower commission under special circumstances such as:
- You’re buying a Halifax home and selling one at the same time.
- You’re willing to do all of the legwork, advertising, marketing and pay for expenses related to the sale.
- You’re selling more than one home.
If you are interviewing agents who offer similar services and can’t decide between them, ask to see a track record of each agent’s original list price and final sale numbers. Odds are the lowest-fee agent will show more price reductions and longer days on market. Ask yourself how you come out ahead if your price ends up reduced 2% because you chose a lower-fee agent who could not afford to actively market your home.
Tip: If your home is located in a hard-to-sell neighbourhood, consider an agent with experience selling hard-to-sell homes.
Importance of Agent Marketing
A good listing agent lives and dies by marketing. Because marketing sells homes. Ask to review a complete copy of the agent’s marketing plan. Precisely, what is the agent going to do to sell your home? Here is the bare-bones minimum you should expect:
- Professional signage, including an agent’s cell phone number.
- Follow-up reports on buyer showings and feedback to the seller.
- Agents open/previews
- Staging Advice
- Digital targeted marketing.
- Virtual tour
- Distribution to major websites and online sites
- MLS exposure with excellent professional photographs
- Financing flyers for buyers and fully detailed listing cut
- Minimum of 2 open houses, providing its location is a candidate.
- Direct mail to surrounding neighbours, and out-of-area buyers
- Feedback to sellers on buyer sign calls and buyer showings
- Updated CMAs after 30 days.
- E-mail feeds of new listings that compete.
- Updates on neighbourhood facts, trends and recent sales.
Remember, no single tactic sells homes. It’s a combination of all those methods that sell homes.
Characteristics of a Good Listing Agent
You will be in a relationship with your listing agent for a month or two or longer. Choose an agent you like and can relate to. Here are some of the characteristics sellers say they want in agent:
- Experience. Let new agents learn the business on somebody else’s dime.
- Education. Ask about degrees and certifications.
- Honesty. Trust your intuition. Your agent should speak from the heart.
- Networking. This is a people business. Some homes sell because agents have contacted other agents.
- Negotiation skills. You want an aggressive negotiator, not somebody out to make a quick sale at your expense.
- Good communicator. Sellers say communication and availability are key.
Finally, ask for a personal guarantee. If the agent won’t guarantee performance and release you from a listing upon request, don’t hire that agent.