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Choosing a listing agent

Posted by weedyacres (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 19, 12 at 19:18

I've got about 500 to choose from. Friends have been no help with referrals, as none have had any they're thrilled with. So I'm on my own to sort through, narrow down, and then select a few to interview in more depth. I've sold houses twice and not been thrilled with either agent, so I want to take my time to select better.

What measurable criteria can I use to slim down the options for the first cut? If I call the local offices, what stats do I ask for that will be meaningful in ascertaining who's more likely to sell my home well (fast and for high dollar)?

Part of me says look for the one with the lowest commission, as I'm mostly looking to get in the MLS. I'm confident in our pricing, staging, and ability to negotiate and get the paperwork done, so don't need a lot of hand-holding. But I'd love to be "sold" on someone that can actually make it happen better/faster, just don't know what those types do, if anything, to achieve those results. The marketing material I've gotten from realtors so far is all generic and unimpressive ("we'll put you on our cable access TV show! we'll put you in the supermarket freebie catalogs! we've got the best web site in the area!"), so I don't know that they can.

Anyway, I'm planning to start with some filter questions, and then go from there. All suggestions welcome.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Choosing a listing agent

If you want a strong presence on Realtor.com take note of which agents have "enchanced listings". These listings will have more pictures and detailed text. If you go with the lower commission make sure that the split that they are offering to the buyer's agent is on par with what other agents are offering.


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

A big clue is the "we". Any agent that says, "we have the best website, we will put you in the magazines, etc. is depending on her company to do her advertising and doesnt have a strong presence of her own website on the internet.

The "we" makes me believe you will be on the rotating schedule of ads that will be run. THe listing agent is the person that understands how to market your home. SHe is the only person who saw the house, she is the only one who knows the target audience, not the office staff hired to get the house out there. If they are willing to invest their own money to get you sold, they are the only ones who have the motivation to make sure you get sold!


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

My understanding has always been that you don't want to be on the market long enough to be listed in a magazine. Magazine listings are for houses that aren't selling.

Personally, I'd drive around the neighborhood and see who is selling. Check out their listings and see what the listings look like. You might show up at any open houses you find and see what you think there also.


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

I agree about the magazines, I think it is hype for the agent, not me the seller.

This doesn't help the OP but the time to start looking for your listing agent is when you move into your house, it is a long term thought,keeping your eyes and ears open for what is happening in your area. I know many good agents in my area just because I watch the listings, see what they list, what they sell.

One thing I think may be important is having an agent other agents like to work with. This is also something that takes time to know, but an agent may avoid a listing if the LA is difficult to work with.

As mentioned above, you can drive around your neighborhood, call to speak with the agent, are they easy to reach, what did you think of the phone call?


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

Thanks for the input. A lot of these things sound like ideas to use in the 2nd round of screening, once I've narrowed it down from 500 to a couple dozen or whatever and start talking with them.

Are there any tip-offs in the stats that can help me do the initial culling? For example, can I call the offices and ask them for a list of agents with their current number of listings, number of houses they've listed and sold in the past year, number of houses they've helped buyers close on in the past year, average DOM, etc.?

I don't think number of listings is evidence of ability to sell, just ability to sell themselves to the seller. But perhaps ratio of closed sales to listings shows how well they move their listings. Is volume of sales the best indicator, or will that exclude some potentially good sellers?

I've been watching the market, particularly in the 2 subdivisions we're comps for, for about a year. Not much has sold. One broker that tends to get a lot of high-end listings doesn't seem to sell very well. Plus I've heard a couple anecdotes of poor ethics, so I'm not going to pick her.

Does it make a difference that the agent does a lot in the immediate area? Should they specialize in higher-end homes? Relocations? Again, this all assumes that the agent can actually do something to market more effectively than a listing in the MLS.


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

I would call the hospitals and big companies in your immediate area and ask which real estate agents they suggest to their new employees. Those agents tend to be well connected, have a good work ethic and are adept at steering people towards particular properties.


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

Are there any tip-offs in the stats that can help me do the initial culling? For example, can I call the offices and ask them for a list of agents with their current number of listings, number of houses they've listed and sold in the past year, number of houses they've helped buyers close on in the past year, average DOM, etc.?

I answer the phones at a RE office, and I would not be able to quickly get you that information. When someone calls in I am supposed to give that call to the agent who has "floor duty" that day. You might have better luck calling the managing broker directly. Now if you were my friend and we were speaking away from work I would definitely steer you towards the agents that I think are the best, but generally the receptionist is not allowed to do that while they are on duty.


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

Around here, the listing agent is rarely the person who actually sells the property.

Years ago when we were looking to list our house, we met with 4 realtors. We picked the one who answered ; "because I will sell your house" when she was asked why we should pick her.

She did. We were under contract within 24 hours after listing with her.

ML


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

Like mentioned above, we always start looking for a new realtor when we move into a new house since we have a chance of being relocated. We've yet to find the perfect realtor, but I have to give the last guy credit because he spoke up and told us exactly what he thought we needed to do to sell our house. He was quite direct about it. He told us our house would not sell above a key price and didn't try to make us think our house would sell for more. He also talked about things mentioned here on this site like paint color, decluttering, etc. I didn't listen to him on everything because I had my own opinions too. We probably agreed on at least 90% of what needed to be done. We did what we needed to do and got the house sold in a timely manner.


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

I know 2 realtors, the one who sold my last place, and the one we rented a house from while we were building. I just looked them up on realtor.com to see what their listings look like. You can put in your zip code/city and get a list of RE companies. You can click on one, and then click to get a list of their agents (with most of their pictures). Then you can click to see their listings. Based on my experience below, as a starting point, I would look at the quality of their pictures of the listings and the accuracy of any description in the text. Are meaningful words used, or fluff?

Draw whatever conclusions might help you from my experiences:

--The realtor I'd thought we would use because DH wanted to, got mad & walked out when I told him that I wanted to be able to look at/edit any pictures & text he would use in the listing. He said he was the professional, and was insulted that I wanted to participate in this way in selling MY PLACE, which we had spent a lot of time & money fixing up & making energy efficient. (DH may have liked working with this guy on previous deals, but I never was crazy about him, so be sure that you feel positively about whomever you choose.)

--Another realtor was an acquaintance at the time. She had spent 2 hours 2 different times giving me free staging advice (I kept offering to pay her, which she refused) even though I told her that the other guy would definitely get the listing. I called her when I got fired as a client, told her what had happened, and asked her if she wanted the listing with the condition that I would edit the pictures & text. We discussed the text together; I made my points, she made hers, and we came up with a satisfactory compromise, with me agreeing with her in several instances about which I figured she knew more than I did. We both have strong personalities, but were still able to state our views without the other person being offended in any way.

She had told me that she had someone that she used and paid herself to take the video (she didn't like who the company used), because she was so good. She was! The video was excellent. One of the slides showed a view that only I would have known was misleading about the location, and she took it out immediately after it was posted when I told her.

She told me both the advantages of going with her company and herself. She said she would call each realtor who showed my place for feedback, and she got right back to me. I had one showing each of 3 weeks. I'd listed it for what I thought I could get, not what I thought it was worth, because it was late in the selling season for Michigan (listed in Aug, sold by Sept, closed in Oct), and my son had said, "Sell it this year (2006) or you won't be able to sell it, because everything is going to tank next year!" Boy, was he right! How sure are you that next year will be a better year to sell than this year? Be careful what you list yours for, especially with the landscaping issue.

The feedback from the 3rd person to see it was that my place was in the top 3. We'd just gotten an offer that day from the person who had seen it the week before, so she told #3 person, and said if they were interested, they would need to make an offer that day, which she said they would. She then called back #2 person, said another offer was coming in, & asked if she wanted to improve her offer, which she did. Then she called #3 & asked if she wanted to improve her offer, which she did, but not much. She may have thought that we really didn't have another offer; she lost.

So this woman was an outstanding realtor with absolutely excellent feedback & skills, beyond what I expected. She earned every dollar of her commission.

Anne


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

I know 2 realtors, the one who sold my last place, and the one we rented a house from while we were building. I just looked them up on realtor.com to see what their listings look like. You can put in your zip code/city and get a list of RE companies. You can click on one, and then click to get a list of their agents (with most of their pictures). Then you can click to see their listings. Based on my experience below, as a starting point, I would look at the quality of their pictures of the listings and the accuracy of any description in the text. Are meaningful words used, or fluff?

Draw whatever conclusions might help you from my experiences:

--The realtor I'd thought we would use because DH wanted to, got mad & walked out when I told him that I wanted to be able to look at/edit any pictures & text he would use in the listing. He said he was the professional, and was insulted that I wanted to participate in this way in selling MY PLACE, which we had spent a lot of time & money fixing up & making energy efficient. (DH may have liked working with this guy on previous deals, but I never was crazy about him, so be sure that you feel positively about whomever you choose.)

--Another realtor was an acquaintance at the time. She had spent 2 hours 2 different times giving me free staging advice (I kept offering to pay her, which she refused) even though I told her that the other guy would definitely get the listing. I called her when I got fired as a client, told her what had happened, and asked her if she wanted the listing with the condition that I would edit the pictures & text. We discussed the text together; I made my points, she made hers, and we came up with a satisfactory compromise, with me agreeing with her in several instances about which I figured she knew more than I did. We both have strong personalities, but were still able to state our views without the other person being offended in any way.

She had told me that she had someone that she used and paid herself to take the video (she didn't like who the company used), because she was so good. She was! The video was excellent. One of the slides showed a view that only I would have known was misleading about the location, and she took it out immediately after it was posted when I told her.

She told me both the advantages of going with her company and herself. She said she would call each realtor who showed my place for feedback, and she got right back to me. I had one showing each of 3 weeks. I'd listed it for what I thought I could get, not what I thought it was worth, because it was late in the selling season for Michigan (listed in Aug, sold by Sept, closed in Oct), and my son had said, "Sell it this year (2006) or you won't be able to sell it, because everything is going to tank next year!" Boy, was he right! How sure are you that next year will be a better year to sell than this year? Be careful what you list yours for, especially with the landscaping issue.

The feedback from the 3rd person to see it was that my place was in the top 3. We'd just gotten an offer that day from the person who had seen it the week before, so she told #3 person, and said if they were interested, they would need to make an offer that day, which she said they would. She then called back #2 person, said another offer was coming in, & asked if she wanted to improve her offer, which she did. Then she called #3 & asked if she wanted to improve her offer, which she did, but not much. She may have thought that we really didn't have another offer; she lost.

So this woman was an outstanding realtor with absolutely excellent feedback & skills, beyond what I expected. She earned every dollar of her commission.

Anne


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

Thanks for the continued suggestions. I'm taking good notes when it comes time for the interviews.

However, I'd still like some help figuring out some criteria for slimming down the pool of 500 to a smaller group that I can apply the above to. It'll take way too long to walk all 500 of them through our house. :-)


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

You might try to act like a buyer whose perfect house is yours - like most buyers, look online, see whose listings pop up and appear the most attractive and would draw you in with excellent pictures and text. Bells and whistles can mean that the brokerage spends a lot on marketing but doesn't mean that a particular agent is effective, unless it is one of the non-standard brokerages (like mine) where the agents work basically independently and do their own marketing.
I'd look for the agent that farms your area the most successfully (usually there are a couple of really successful ones that probably live in their farm area, and a bunch of wannabees). There can't be 500 agents farming the same area.
There are still buyers who will walk into the nearest brokerage office to find a home, so that's a place to look, too.
Good luck!


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

I'd start with finding those that list houses in a higher price range or one that covers the whole range. No point in working with somebody who specializes in a different type of housing.

I think looking at the listings of the 500 realtors might take some time, but probably will go fairly quickly to weed out a huge numbers based on what their listings look like.

Search their and the brokers names online to see if you can find reviews. Usually people don't post positive ones nearly as much, but negative tends to be posted.

Maybe make a post on some local message boards such as city data if applicable in your region to ask if anybody has recommendations on who to use or who to stay away from and ask why.


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

This is just my opinion, and it may be a harsh one, but I think you are making this into a more daunting task than it needs to be.

Just by living in my town for 6 years, I know a few names of real estate agents based upon signage. Those people are clearly full time agents, listing and getting properties sold. If my friends and family efforts failed, that's where I would start.

I'm a divorce lawyer and there are a million lawyers out there - just like real estate agents. And to be honest, most are competent if they specialize in divorce. You may need a "heavy hitter" if you've got a complicated case with a lot of unique facts, but hiring one of the heavy hitters for a 2 year marriage with no kids and no other unique factors is complete overkill and a waste of money. And - you may be ignored because you are such a small case. However, any of the competent middle of the road lawyers will get you to the same end. You just have to find one you like and can trust. A good personality match is as important as any other quality.

I would say the same thing for a doctor. There are the best of the best and you may need that kind of doctor at some point in your life. But you don't need THAT doctor when you have strep throat.

Here, you have a nice house in a subdivision. It's not a commercial building, a multi-family house or a horse farm. It's not on a busy street or in a strange zoning pocket. It looks very sell-able to me, and I don't think it will take a miracle worker of a real estate agent to sell it.

I would check out the popular agents' current listings and make sure your house would be a good fit. Or I would look at all the listings in your price range and see who is listing them. Then call the 5 agents that you like the best on paper, talk to them, pick one and move forward.

If you are very nervous, make it a short time frame listing agreement, so you can get out if you feel it's necessary.


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

I would look on MLS at both pending listings and closed sales. Find out who is listing and selling in your area. Also look for people who represented buyers for closed sales. I've found that this at least narrows down to the people who are knowledgeable about your area.

Are there any agents who live in your subdivision? Sometimes there are agents who live in the subdivision or near it who specialize in it and they often really know a lot about marketing the area.

As others have mentioned it is unlikely your buyer will come through the selling agent. I did have it happen once. The selling agent we hired was a husband and wife team. The husband mostly did selling and the wife was mostly a buyer's agent. She did a lot of corporate relocations and she showed our house to one of her clients the first morning it was listed and we sold to that buyer. We never even had a for sale sign in the yard.


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RE: Choosing a listing agent

I agree with the advice to find someone easy to get along with. Your listing agent won't bring the buyer in, it will be buyer's agents, and they MUST be able to work with your selling agent. We just bought a house via a selling agent who was notoriously TERRIBLE to deal with, and although we were very persistent and unusual buyers with a thick-skinned buyer's agent, most weren't and we heard that three prior contracts had fallen through due to this joker. Don't take that risk.

Go through the current listings, find the houses that look and feel most like yours, contact those selling agents and evaluate their people skills. Done!


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