Choosing a seller's agent

fruitgirlOctober 12, 2010

Hi all,

We're looking at potentially needing to list our house here in the next month or two. We currently live in WA state, but are looking to move back closer to family. I recently had an interview (that I think went really well) for a position in the Finger Lakes area of NY and my husband has a phone interview for a position there later this week.

Because we know the market is still tough, we thought we'd go ahead and start looking for an agent now, so that we can get the house listed quickly if things do work out like we hope. We'll be open with the agents that it's not yet for certain that we'll be listing the house.

We're pretty sure what company we'd like to go with (they're the most active one in town and have the best website), but know we should also speak with someone at another agency. So, what are some good questions to ask potential listing agents? I imagine it's best to talk to some over the phone first, and I assume we'd have a first list of questions to ask all the agents we speak to on the phone, and a secondary list to ask agents who actually come to our house.


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If at all possible, buy privately(first choice) or attend an auction(pluses and minuses).

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 9:13AM
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I'd wait until I knew for sure that I was going to move.

Best luck!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 12:26PM
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So, earthworm, did you even read the OP? They are looking for a listing agent, not a buyer's agent.

My number one concern would be that the agent that you list with is a full time professional. Don't choose someone who is just breaking into the business and working part time while holding down another job. Do ask for references. Do ask how they are going to market your home. Do ask them if they subscribe to enhanced listings on

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 1:38PM
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@ sylviatexas, my potential employer would want us to move quickly, so that's the reason for exploring realtors now. There's also the possibility they'd buy our house, but we'd want to take a shot at selling it first.
@ terriks, thanks!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 2:26PM
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When you interview the agent, make sure he or she is VERY knowledgeable about home values in your particular neighborhood or suburb. Prices can vary greatly from one n'hood to the next, even areas that are quite close geographically. The most important factor for a fast(er) sell (and it sounds like you will need to sell quickly if you're both going to be moving cross-country), is pricing the house correctly from Day One. In this market, even experienced agents can flub that price thing if they're not familiar with current value on your block.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 5:30PM
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In today's world any RE agent can get MLS data for any neighborhood
Whether they actually work that area or not
In my area there are many small towns that share school districts (important factor in RE desire ability), area amenities like shopping, medical facilities, and recreation...yet subdivisions can be very different and have +/- aspects that could be missed by someone who is only looking at data print outs...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:37AM
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This thread is 2 years old--I presume the original poster has made her decision by now, but it's a topic that comes up from time to time.

Having just had our house listed twice, in two different years, with two different agents, I think I have a bit of perspective on choosing an agent.

First go-round, we chose a very nice agent, who we'd dealt with to buy our 'new' home. He was pleasant, honest, helpful, an independent--when it came to helping us with the purchase. He promised us he'd get our old house sold so we could enjoy the new one. But that promise was about all we got out of him. He put our house on MLS, took adequate but not striking photos himself, and then sat back and waited for something to happen. Little did--in 6 months, we had only 3 or 4 showings. I tried repeatedly to get him to hold an open house, but he wouldn't. He didn't update photos, or do anything more than he'd done to start. When the listing ran out fall of 2011, we took the house off the market and did a little more spiffing (removed wallpaper in the only 2 rooms that had it, painted those, a few other very minor things like painting basement floor, etc.

In Jan. 2012, a little learily we listed with a neighbor. A little learily because--the neighbor thing seemed a little precarious, and he was very young--only in his twenties. BUT he seemed really enthusiastic and energetic. Even when we had our house listed the first time, he was more help than our first agent was, offering great tips. (and within an hour of the first 'for sale' sign coming down, he had a letter in our mailbox offering his services). He immediately got our house on every conceivable website, he did take his own photos, but they were amazing--and the youtube slide show he did? WOW. He had our house on targetted ads on Facebook, he held an open house within 2 weeks of us listing our house, he followed up on everyone who came through (and we got a really good turnout). When the house hadn't sold in about 3 weeks? He scheduled another open house. The second one brought us our buyers, we signed the contract to sell 6 weeks to the day from when we signed our listing agreement. Actually? our house sold for about 40,000 more than comparable houses had been selling for in our neighborhood. The reason I think it sold so quickly and so high definitely was our agent. He CONSTANTLY was looking for ways to increase our visibility. This past June, in a still slow market, he had EIGHT closings!

So my take is, you want to ask questions that will tell you how much work the agent is willing to do for you. Look at the photos/slide shows he/she has done, how often does he/she have closings? Find out how your home will be marketed--what websites, how often will you have open houses, how else will it be advertised. What does your agent suggest you to to get the house ready for market and then how can you help during the selling process. An agent who doesn't offer any suggestions probably is kind of lacksadasical himself.

One of the things I liked about my second agent? He e-mailed frequently with information, suggestions, etc. Never heard from the first one unless I called him. The second one told me that every day, he tries to do something for every one of his listings to help promote them--might be rewording the ad or changing the photos, but SOMEthing every day for each client. He was so good? that this past summer, he sold a house that wasn't even on the market--it was perfect for one of his 'lookers' so he went up to the door, asked if the owners were interested, and he made 2 families happy--and collected the entire commission.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 8:38PM
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