The Best Questions To Ask Realtors Before Selling A House
If you’re planning to sell your house, you’ll want to find a realtor with the right skills and experience to help you along the way. Choose the wrong agent and it could end up costing you big. On the other hand, the right real estate agent can help you get top dollar for your property while also making the process smooth and stress-free.
A realtor should be your number one advocate and your point of contact for all things related to the sale of your home, from determining a fair market value, to staging and showings. They are there to manage the selling timeline from listing to closing.
But with so many Realtors to choose from, knowing which to pick can be a daunting task in and of itself. Just how many Realtors are there in the USA? Over 1.359 million according to the National Association for Realtors. But don’t get confused, there are also over 2 million active real estate agents in the US as well.
Aren’t all real estate agents Realtors you ask? Although this is a common misconception, the answer is ‘no’. Not all real estate agents are Realtors. In order to earn the designation of Realtor, an agent must not only have their real estate license, but be a member in good standing with the National Association of Realtors. To further muddy the waters, there are difference between listing and selling agents!
If all that sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry. We’re here to help take the hassle and guesswork out of hiring a realtor. This guide will teach you about the right questions you need to ask potential candidates in order to properly vet them.
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These questions will help you to pinpoint the right professional for your needs, and help you be more confident in choosing the best Realtor to represent you and to list your house on the market.
Here are the best questions to ask realtors before selling…
1. How Long Have You Had Your Real Estate License?
Every realtor should have a real estate license issued by the state that is currently up to date and in good standing. Ideally, you’ll want to find someone who has held their license for at least a few years and who has had ample experience in your local market. There are many nuances in the business of selling houses, so it’s important that your realtor knows the ins and outs of the industry and can work successfully on your behalf.
If your realtor is new to the industry, but you still want to go ahead with the contract, make sure they have a good team or a mentor on hand to help guide them through the process.
2. Are You A Real Estate Broker Or Agent?
Real estate brokers tend to have more training and experience than a regular real estate agent. While both are industry professionals who specialize in buying and selling houses, a broker has a higher level of qualification and knows more about the technicalities of the selling process.
While both brokers and agents can help you in the selling process, brokers are sometimes able to offer additional services and/or resources to help you get your house sold.
3. What Is Your Real Estate Agent License Number?
Although most professionals are honest, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch. It’s always worth checking the validity of their license. You can navigate to your states professional license lookup website and search for the agents name.
Also, Arello.com has a full database of every licensed realtor, broker, and agent working in the industry. Simply type in your prospective realtor’s license number into the main search tool to check the validity of their credentials.
4. Do You Have Any Previous Clients We Can Contact?
Some agents have a strong web presence, so you might not need to ask for references if there are a lot of reviews online. Zillow, Google and BBB are sites where you can easily search by location, agent’s name, or company to find unbiased and honest reviews.
If you can’t find reviews online, make sure to ask for references from at least 2 previous clients and don’t be afraid to ask them hard-hitting questions about their experience working with that agent.
5. What Are The Average Days On Market For Your Listings?
You don’t want your property sitting around on the market for any longer than it needs to be. Compare your prospective realtors’ average market days to their competitors and make sure to question them further if the number is higher than you were expecting.
Although “days on the market” can be affected by a great many factors (some of which are out of the Realtor’s control, such as the local market and season), higher average days on market can indicate issues with listing prices, marketing, salesmanship, negotiation skills and more.
6. What Is Your List-To-Price Ratio Of Sold Homes?
A list to price ratio compares the listing price of a home to the price that it actually sells at.
For example, if a home is listed for $100,000 but sells at $95,000, the list-to-price ratio would be 95%. A good list to price ratio depends a lot on the neighborhood and the current market, but ideally, it should be at least over 90%. List to price ratios that fall out of this range may indicate that your Realtor isn’t very skilled at helping clients choose appropriate listing prices or that they are lacking at the negotiating table.
7. How Many Homes Have You Sold In This Neighborhood?
The best realtor to sell your home is one that knows your neighborhood well and has sold similar properties to yours in the past. They know the unique selling points of the area and understand how best to market your property.
8. What Is Your Average Price Range Of Homes You Sold?
Try to choose an agent that has experience selling homes in a similar price range to yours, especially if your property’s value is on the particularly low or high side. Your home’s price range will have a huge effect on how a property is marketed and sold, and your realtor should know how to adapt.
9. Do You Work As A Part-Time Or Full-Time Agent?
While part-time realtors can be great at what they do, full-time agents are more likely to be ready and available when you need them. A full-time agent will likely dedicate more time and energy into selling your house, and generally provides a higher quality of service.Learn how to sell a house and save thousands with ISoldMyHouse.com.
10. How Many Listings Do You Currently Have?
A busy agent indicates they are good at what they do but beware of taking on someone so busy that they don’t have time to do the job well. On the flip side, an agent with more availability can dedicate more time to your house sale, but their lack of clients can raise questions about their ability.
11. Do You Represent More Buyers Or Sellers?
Some realtors specialize exclusively in either selling or buying houses, but many work on both sides depending on where the demand is. Having someone who specializes in just selling can be great, but a realtor who does both can sometimes offer valuable insights into the buying side of the process too.
12. Will I Be Working Directly With You Or A Team?
Many agents work as part of a team, but if that team is too big, you could end up seeing a different person at every meeting, making it hard to communicate effectively.
13. How Do You Prefer To Communicate?
Make sure both parties agree on the best ways to communicate, whether that’s by phone or email. Make sure you ask about their availability and working hours; the last thing you want is to be waiting to hear from your realtor for days at a time during a crucial point in the sale.
14. What Do You Believe Are My Homes Selling Points?
A good realtor will be able to spot a house’s unique selling points almost immediately. Marketing is crucial and you want to be confident that your realtor will highlight and show off the best bits about your home.
15. How Do You Plan On Marketing My Home?
Having a plan is essential to market a home well. If your realtor is experienced and good at what they do, they’ll be able to answer this question with ease. Be sure to pay close attention to the specifics that they will say that they will do for your home and ask them what is the most effective marketing in their plan. We are big proponents of listing on the MLS but don’t think that is the only effective tool out there!
16. Do You Provide A Professional Staging Consultation?
Any realtor worth their salt will want to dress your house to make it stand out on the market. Most agents will offer a professional staging service as standard included in their fee. Think twice if you’re asked to pay extra. If you home is vacant, you should inquire about the use of a virtual staging service.
17. Do You Provide A Professional Photographer?
Photographs are perhaps the most single most important aspect of the marketing process. Since you’re already paying your realtor to market your home, it’s normally their responsibility to provide a professional photographer to make sure it’s shown in the best light possible. Some professional photographers will even provide real estate drone video and photos!
18. Can You Explain The Home Selling Process From Start To Finish?
Even if this isn’t your first house sale, things can get complicated pretty quickly. A good realtor will be able to guide you through the process step by step so that you feel comfortable along the way.Learn how to sell a house and save thousands with ISoldMyHouse.com.
19. Do You Have A List Of Professionals You Recommend?
You’ll likely be working with a variety of professionals during the home selling process, from contractors to inspectors. A good agent will have a list of recommended vendors that can help.
20. Do You Provide A Comparative Market Analysis?
Comparative Market Analysis, or CMA, is one of the best ways of determining the value of your house. It works by comparing recent sales of similar properties in your neighborhood to come up with an estimate.
Most realtors will conduct a CMA on your property for free, often before they even meet you in person.
While your realtors CMA will generally be the most accurate pricing guide, you may also want to do your own. You can start by using an online home value estimator. Simply type in your address and get an estimate based on previous data from your area.
21. What Do You Think The Final Selling Price Will Be?
Make sure your realtor tells it like it is. If you suspect they are overpricing your home based on a CMA or quotes from other realtors you’ve interviewed, this is a serious red flag. Try to get quotes from at least three different realtors to get an accurate estimate of your final selling price.
22. How Much Are Your Commission Fees?
The average commission fees payable by the seller are 6% of the home’s final sale price.
Since there are no specific regulations to dictate commission rates, it’s fairly common practice to negotiate commission fees with your realtor until both parties are happy. Just remember that you get what you pay for. If your realtor agrees to a lower than 6% fee, make sure that they are still going to correctly market your home.
23. How Long Will Our Listing Agreement Be?
Most listing agreements between sellers and agents start around 3 months and can even go up to a year or more. This gives you time to evaluate your agent’s abilities and leaves you the option of renewing the agreement once the first listing period is over or find another agent.
24. Can We Cancel Our Listing Agreement If We Are Not Happy?
If you decide it’s not working out with you and your realtor and you’re unhappy with the service they’re providing, you will not usually have the right to cancel and pull out at any time.
It’s important to check the terms and conditions of your contract, as each agreement will have varying terms, but on the whole, it’s a generally an accepted industry practice to NOT allow clients to pull out of a listing agreement early. So be sure to carefully read what you are signing.
25. What Are Our Responsibilities As Sellers?
To sell your house in the quickest, easiest way with the greatest financial rewards, sellers also have responsibilities to make sure the process runs smoothly. Keeping the house in tip-top condition, answering questions with honesty, and committing to regular communication are all important.
26. What Do We Need To Do To Get Ready For Showings?
You’ll want your house to look at its very best when potential buyers come to inspect it, and a good realtor will have an arsenal of great tips and ideas of how to make the most of your home on viewing days.
27. What Are The Closing Costs And My Net?
Closing costs include things like title fees, attorney fees, appraisal fees, and of course, your realtor’s commission. Even before a final offer has been accepted on your house, your realtor should be able to give you a good estimation of what kind of money you’ll need to put aside and what you’ll be left with.
Closing Thoughts on Finding the Best Realtor
Think of hiring a Realtor like you would if you were hiring someone to handle the most important financial transaction of your life (because you are). Taking time to do your due diligence, and utilizing the interview questions above can help ensure you make the right decision when the time comes.
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.