As we approach a new spring real estate market, one that we expect to be very robust, many homeowners have in mind that this year (finally!) may be the time to sell and move on with their plans (to upgrade, downsize, right-size, move to a warmer climate, etc.). You may consider trying to sell on your own, but with 91% of homes selling with the assistance of a Realtor, and for an average of 23% more money than those sold without, most of you will turn to a professional who does this every single day and is really good at what they do.
But how will you know that a real estate agent IS really good at what they do? And is also a good match for you and your needs? Do you go by word of mouth? By looking online and reading reviews? By seeing whose sign is in your neighborhood, or whose postcards come in your mail? All these can provide valuable clues and put you on the right track, but you need to go further. You need to know the right questions to ask and the answers that are meaningful.
The agent you ultimately hire needs to be your Trusted Advisor, a Master Marketer, a Skillful Negotiator, and an Expert Facilitator. To determine which agent will be all that, and the best choice to accomplish your goals, start by asking for a written custom marketing plan, one that goes beyond the basics of putting up a sign, putting your home on the MLS, and sending it to a long list of web sites. Lack of communication is the most common complaint of sellers about their agents, so ask the agent to commit to a schedule of contact and follow-up activities. Ask for a list of recent past clients and select a few to contact for feedback. Find out how knowledgeable the agent is about your community, and able to convey the benefits. Ask for statistics and facts that validate the agent's abilities compared to other agents in the market. Ask the agent to clearly explain any local market trends that will impact your sale. And listen carefully to make sure the agent is more interested in learning about your needs than talking about their agenda. After all, this sale is about YOU, your goals, plans & dreams, and putting your interests above all else.
Choosing the right agent to help you sell arguably your most expensive possession should not be about price. It's the market that sets the price, meaning your home will sell for what a reasonable and educated buyer is willing to pay for it. You should always choose your agent first, then work with them to set the best price. A really good agent will educate you about the market and discuss pricing strategies, so you can make a smart decision about what the optimal price should be. And remember the old adage of “you get what you pay for” when hiring an agent. Choosing an agent who provides top value for their services will reap benefits well beyond their fees in time and aggravation saved, as well as netting you a higher reward.
By Gail Fattizzi, Executive Director of Westchester Real Estate, Inc., Lic. Real Estate Broker