Here are the 10 worst mistakes sellers make when choosing a listing agent and how to avoid them so you can make the best decision when it comes to selling your greatest asset. These are the pitfalls that lie ahead and solutions on how to come out on top.
1.What to look out for: Agents who want to be your best friend. Most real estate agents have great interpersonal skills – that’s why they’re agents. And when you’re a buyer, it is important to find an agent that will intimately understand your needs and wants so that they can help you find your dream home. But when it comes to selling your home, it’s a different story.
How to correct it: Check out an agent’s sold record. When it comes to selling your home, you want to choose someone who can get you results. Look at how long their past listings were on the market and how much they sold for. A high price and low time on the market is what you’re looking for. However, you’ll need to take into account the market in which the homes were sold. Are their stats on homes coming from before, after or during the housing bubble burst?
2. What to look out for: Agents who want to do it all for you. It is important to have an agent who understands the market and knows how to sell a home, but it’s also important for you to understand what’s going on as well.
How to correct it: Ask a lot of questions. If your agent is willing to take the time and educate you as a seller, then you’ve got a good one. Buying a home can be a complicated process and the best way to ease your stress is by having an agent who will break down each step and explain it to you. With a clear line of communication, everyone will have a better experience.
3. What to look out for: Settling for the first agent you meet. If you don’t know much about choosing an agent, the first one you meet might seem good enough. But this is a big decision, so take your time. If that first person you met with really is the best, you can come back to them.
How to correct it: Interview several different agents, preferably 3 or more, and take your time choosing. For a list of interview questions to ask, read how to choose a listing agent without driving yourself crazy.
4. What to look out for: An agent who tries to “buy” your listing. Some agents will overestimate the price they can sell your home for in order to hook you in. Don’t be fooled by overestimates because they’re unrealistic.
How to correct it: Interview several different agents so you can get a base of what you can expect your home to sell for. If someone promises they can sell your home for $100,000 more than everyone else, you’ll know their estimate is more hope than fact.
5. What to look out for: New agents with no experience of slow markets. The economy is starting to pick up again but it isn’t back to where it was. If they’re a seasoned agent it means they know how to adapt in any market.
How to correct it: It’s safest to choose an agent who’s been in the business for 10 years. They’ve been through tight times on the market and should know how to handle it. Have them show you their track record and ask about their strategies on selling in a slow market. Another great resource could be a family team. You might be working with a newer agent but if they learned the ropes for a parent who’s been in the business for years, you’ll be in good hands.
6. What to look out for: Agents who are by the book and lack creativity and resourcefulness.
How to correct it: When you’re interviewing agents, ask them what difficulties they’ve faced in the past and how they’ve dealt with them. Feel like you’re interviewing them for a new job? You are! Ask tough questions and make sure your agent can think on their feet, that’s what it takes to get results in this business.
7. What to look out for: Settling for the agent with the lowest commission. While a low commission cost looks good, it’s not going to help you find a competent agent. They may be charging you a lower commission because they know their time isn’t worth as much as more talented agents.
How to correct it: Choose an agent based on their skill and preferably one with the backing of a large company who can get the attention of the highest number of buyers. First Team agents have a multi-million dollar marketing budget behind them to support their sellers, online tools and numerous other resources.
8. What to look out for: Agents who don’t have time for you. Top agents work with teams of associates and don’t have time for you once they’ve brought you on. Agents who work in teams like this could easily be working with 5 dozen listings or more at once – you don’t want to be lost in the mix.
How to correct it: The key is to find an experienced agent who has a high turnover of fewer listings. You should stick to agents with no more than 2 dozen listings.
9. What to look out for: A “neighborhood expert”. There’s nothing wrong with choosing an agent who knows your neighborhood well, but your agent should have a wider scope of knowledge to go along with their local expertise. Buyers are going to be looking in more than one neighborhood so a good agent will know what other communities nearby are like yours, and how to sell those buyers on your home over others like it.
How to correct it: When you are interviewing agents, ask them what they know about your neighborhood and those surrounding it. They should be able to give you a look at their selling strategy and what they can do to attract buyers interested in your areas and those close-by as well.
10. What to look out for: Agents who are their own broker. An agent can become licensed as a real estate broker and operate his or her own brokerage, however that means they are busy dealing with “back office” duties.
How to correct it: Find an agent who is part of a larger brokerage. They will have more time to devote to you and if you have any concerns, you can always contact their supervisor. When you choose an agent who is part of a brokerage you’re getting the whole company’s support, not just your agent’s.