One way or another, we all seek the comfort of our own habits – where we get fuel for our car, where we buy our groceries and even where we get our hair cut. Habits are great; they do not require us to analyze or think about the impact of these decisions. We know what we’re getting into.
If only buying or selling a home were so easy. But it’s not. We only do it a handful of times during our lifetime, and the consequences making a bad decision can leave us with wallowing in regret for years. Is your home sale going to maximize all the dollars that you’ve put into the place over the years? Will your new home be worth the debt load you’ll be taking on? Is it really a wise and fiscally responsible investment decision?
In such an emotionally charged environment, how do we bring reason to the table? For most people, the answer is a real estate agent. But which one?
Well, let’s start with choosing the agent to sell our house. Remember, this is someone we are committing to for at least 60 days as they market our home on MLS.
Some call this phase just another beauty and popularity contest, and in many ways it is.
Those well-coiffed, well-dressed agents driving their fancy European cars are all trying to make their best first impressions with you. They will tell you, with barest modesty, they are the #1 agent for you and their track record proves it.
The first test should be: Does this agent really look like the one who you saw promote themselves on billboards, their website and their business cards? What has caused them to age so quickly in the last week or two since you received their Sold Card or Market Activity Newsletter in your mailbox? The stress of their work must be taking a very great toll on their youthfulness. Not that you have to pick the youngest and best looking agent, but why do all agents need to look like they did in their high school or university graduation pictures? I would give them a failing grade for creating a physical gap between what they pretend to be and who they actually are.
However, maybe they can also make your 70-year-old home needing so much work and repairs look like it was just built only last week.
Assess their competency on the pricing recommendations they give you for your home. Have they been thorough enough in showing you every comparable sale in your neighborhood?
Do not buy in to the latest trend in pricing low to create excessive demand and encourage many competitive bidders for your home. It is best to price at close and near to the market and if there is excessive demand at the time, you will benefit from the free natural market forces and sell at full asking price or over. To set the bar too low only confuses and frustrates most buyers.
Remember, less than 10 per cent of listing agents double end or sell their own listings. So how they set the table and encourage the full and unabashed cooperation from the rest of the real estate community is crucial. Do they have a favourable industry reputation and track record and can they positively work well with all of the dozens of agents who may be showing your home to their prospective buyers? How are they going to manage possible multiple-offer scenarios?
You need to be comfortable that they both have these skills and experience, and that they can operate under the pressure of competing bidders. Ask them how many competitive offer scenarios they have been involved in with their listings. How many bidders were there and what was the ultimate selling price?
Are these agents always available to you by text, email and/or cell phone and is it going to be them alone or are you being handed over to their assistant or team member? It’s as if you needed an operation: You choose the surgeon, but do you care if you end up with the resident or intern? You must confirm this service commitment as the busiest agents will be handing you off to their less experienced team members who will be doing most if not all of the work.
When choosing the buying agent your move may be across town or to another city. Of course your selling agent may not have the knowledge, experience and market intelligence needed to uncover the subtle nuances that could exist in your new neighborhood. This is so critical to you.
Bottom line? Choosing your agent requires patience. You should interview at least two or three and have the winning agent back at least once more to follow up on your selling or buying requirements.
That’s not to say all this preparation will eliminate your own stress in buying and selling, not by a long shot. But starting with the right choice for your agent can certainly improve your chances of a happy ending to your real estate adventure.