When it comes to selling a house, there are two major categories: those who entrust the entire process to a listing agent and those who decide they can do it all on their own (aka FSBOs).
For those of you who completely understand how much a qualified listing agent can bring to the table, it’s also important to know exactly what to expect.
1.Experience. A qualified listing agent will have documented evidence of years of successful listings. By successful, this means the agent’s listings really sell. Wouldn’t this be obvious? No. There are, unfortunately, listing agents out there who will take any listing at all just to get her name out there. In a large number of these listings, the homes sit on the market for ages, for a number of reasons. Make sure your listing agent actually manages to get the listings sold.
2.Advice. Listen to your agent! There is a reason that real estate agents need to be trained and licensed – it’s the only way to ensure they know what they are doing. A good agent will be able to offer invaluable advice on how to get your home sold quickly, and for top dollar. Whether the agent recommends a particular listing price, upgrades and repairs, or even co-listing with another agency – pay close attention. There are good reasons for everything you are hearing. No matter how doubtful you might be, it will most likely turn out for the better.
3.Marketing. Years ago, all marketing was fairly standardized, simply because there were only a few options available. A listing agent would put an ad in the Sunday paper, post it in MLS, and arrange a “broker caravan” or even a broker open house in order to expose your home to other area brokers who could have interested and qualified customers. And no matter how vital these techniques still are, technology and society now demand activity on all social media platforms. If your home isn’t plastered all over the agent’s social media accounts and agency website, the agent is ignoring a large number of possible customers and limiting your exposure to only those who read the paper or attend open houses. What worked in 1980 won’t succeed in the 21st century.
4.Updates. Yes, there are agents who leave with the listing agreement and then it’s almost impossible to get in touch with them again. You should expect at least a weekly update on the interest and feedback she is receiving from the showings (or at least she should be able to explain why there are no showings).
5.Qualified customers. The only people who should be walking around your home are those who have been pre-qualified by a lender. You need to request this level of detail at the original listing appointment because some agents will arrange a showing for just about anyone who calls to ask for an appointment. If a person/family isn’t pre-qualified, and actually makes an offer you are interested in pursuing, it’s quite possible the entire detail will tank once the borrower is rejected for a home at your price-point. Why would an agent even waste time bringing someone who hasn’t been prequalified? It’s usually a situation where a couple might be driving around, sees a sign in front of your home, calls the agent and asks to see the home ASAP. The agent runs right over to let them in. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not. In general, however, a good agent who has a list of customers ready to buy will have asked each of them to provide a letter from the lender showing they are indeed financially ready to make an offer and be approved for a mortgage. Keep in mind, however, that if an agent has an offer to present, you have the right to ask before even negotiating – or even accepting – the offer, if the person has been prequalified. The timing is very import here: if you proceed with the offer, you are taking your home off the market and could then, weeks later, discover that the deal fell through because the person can’t afford your home. This needlessly happens all too often. It’s always better to find out before you sign the offer.
If your agent knows your neighborhood, has the necessary experience, and has priced the home correctly, you should expect to head into escrow within a few weeks. If your home just “sits there” with little or no activity, there is a huge problem that needs to be addressed. (Of course, there are some areas where a home’s typical “days on the market” can average 180 days or more.)
The most common reasons for a home not selling quickly are pricing, condition and economy. If a house is priced too high, it’s usually because the agent was pressured by the family to list at an unreasonable price. It’s also common for a house to go stale if upgrades and repairs should have been done but weren’t. The economy also plays a large part in how long a home stays on the market, but this goes hand in hand with making sure the house is priced correctly during whatever the economy is doing at any given point in time.
Bottom line here – listen to your listing agent. You are paying a commission to have access to all the experience the agent has to offer. Take advantage of it!