Most Americans agree that when it comes to buying or selling a home, a transaction of this magnitude requires the guidance of a professional. In fact, nearly four out of five homebuyers and sellers enlist the help of a real estate agent and/or broker (The 2000 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’ Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers).
To better understand whom you’ll be dealing with, let’s look at the basics. The two most common types of agents are seller’s agents and buyer’s agents. A seller’s agent represents the interests of the seller and, not surprisingly, a buyer’s agent represents the interests of the buyer. A broker, also licensed by the state, may own a company or have responsibility for agents. Contrary to popular belief, not every agent is a REALTOR. REALTORS are real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics.
Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you’ll want to choose a professional who meets your professional needs and has a personal style that agrees with your own. Here are some tips for finding a real estate agent:
Call your local Starkville Properties office and ask to speak with an agent.
- Ask family, friends, and business associates for referrals.
- Attend open houses. If the agent or broker impresses you, ask for a business card.
- Drive through neighborhoods that interest you and look for yard signs to see what company handles most of the sales.
- Search local newspapers and real estate publications.
- Call Starkville Properties for a referral to an office in another town if you are moving to another city.
Now you’re ready for the interview. Whether you’re buying or selling, the agent should explain the entire process up front. Sellers can use the “listing presentation” to compare agents on their preparation and professionalism. Ask questions that get at the agent’s experience, knowledge and motivation to help you:
- Do you work full time or part time?
- How long have you been selling homes in this area?
- Are you familiar with the areas I’m considering?
- What type of homes do you usually handle?
- What percentage of your business comes from referrals and repeat clients?
- How many sales have you closed?
- How many homes did you sell last year?
- What percentage of your listings sold during the listing period?
- Did they sell close to the asking price?
- On average, how many days does a home stay on the market?
- Will you guide us as we prepare the house to be shown?
- Will we receive a copy of the marketing plan?
- How will you advertise our home? In what publications and when will ads run? Will you employ an Internet marketing program?
- When do you plan to hold open houses? How will you advertise an open house?
- Do you plan to do anything else to get the word out?
- How often can we expect to be updated, even if there’s nothing to report?
A word to the wise: Sellers should not select a real estate professional based on selling price or commission. It’s probably best to avoid working with someone who promises you the moon-in this case, an unrealistically high price-then has to make price reductions until the property sells. Instead, focus on marketing plans, service and past results. Also, don’t be persuaded by low commissions. A seller could actually net more than with a discount broker when a winning marketing plan combined with proper pricing results in a faster sale and at a better price.
Aim to select someone who is knowledgeable and with whom you feel comfortable. It almost ensures a productive and mutually rewarding relationship. To begin your search for a great real estate professional, make the call to Starkville Properties.