Real Estate Education for Sellers: 21 Questions to Ask a Realtor
This is the 4th article written for sellers in their quest to list and sell their home in Hingham, MA or surrounding South Shore towns.
If you are prepared to list your home on the real estate market in Hingham or any other South Shore town, finding and choosing a Realtor is the next step towards that goal. Knowledgeable representation and a good business relationship with a real estate agent is the best way to ensure that your house will sell for the best price possible.
How to Find a Realtor
In a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) study on home buying and home selling trends, marketing one’s own home made the weakest showing since 1981. Only 8% of home sales were transacted with no Realtor involved. Additionally, these homes typically sold for less money than the median home sale price.
In the same 2015 report published by the National Association of Realtors, 89% of home sellers were represented by a real estate agent, and two thirds were “very satisfied” with the process of working with a Realtor.
Personal recommendations are by far the most common way new home sellers comes to find their Realtor.
Of the home sellers in 2015 NAR report utilizing Realtor services, 72% interviewed only one real estate agent before listing their homes. According to the same study, most sellers recommended their real estate agent to prospective sellers once, and 32% of sellers recommend their Realtor to three or more people. Finally, 84% of sellers said they would recommend their real estate agent for future services.
This being said, you can start asking friends and family members about their past experiences with real estate agents to see about a listing Realtor. If you cannot find a personal recommendation, or you want to interview more than just one Realtor, looking at the real estate companies in your town is also a good starting point. Keep in mind that almost all real estate agents have online profiles that you can explore.
Once you have determined who you will be interviewing, and have set up appointments, you can think about the questions you need answered to make a good choice. This is also a good time to prepare your property for the initial meetings.
Cleaning your house and decluttering will give the real estate agents a better view of your property. Also attend to any outside tidying so that the real estate agent will have a positive mental picture of your house. The first impression goal is to generate excitement in the prospect of selling your home. It is this appearance and subsequent feedback that your Realtor will pass along to colleagues and potential buyers.
What is a Realtor?
Understanding the differences between a Realtor, broker, and agent is a good information to have. Not all real estate agents are Realtors, and not all real estate agents are licensed, but all Realtors are licensed.
The word REALTOR® is a term used only by those legally entitled to its use, and requires membership in the National Association of REALTORS, or NAR for short. In order to be considered for membership, the real estate agent must be licensed in his or her state. All real estate agents who are licensed are required to act in a fair, professional and ethical manner. But not all real estate agents are licensed.
Founded in 1908, The NAR is America’s largest trade association, representing over 1 million members involved in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate. NAR membership requires continuing education classes, often focusing on ethical work practices and consumer protection.
The term itself is a registered and collective mark of membership of the real estate professionals whose membership is active with the National Association of Realtors. In addition to the national organization, there are also state organizations. For example, in Massachusetts, Realtors are members of a trade organization called the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® which includes real estate professionals from every county, city and town in Massachusetts. Agents pay dues to both national and local Realtor organizations.
Real estate agents who are REALTORS® agree to conduct business according to a national code of ethics that helps to assure the fairness, integrity and professionalism of the field. The ethical requirements cover all aspects of the job, from working with customers and fellow agents to creating truthful advertising.
It is common to see multiple abbreviations following a Realtor’s name. These are multiple designations that award professional accomplishments, industry training or a concentration in a specialty area of real estate practice.. These designations use a set of acronyms and some of them are:
ABR Accredited Buyer Representative
AMO Accredited Management Organization
CBR Certified Buyer Representative
CHMS Certified Home Marketing Specialist
CLHMS Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist
CNS Certified Negotiation Specialist
CPM Certified Property Manager
CRB Certified Real Estate Broker
CRS Certified Residential Specialist
ePRO Internet Professional
GRES Graduate Real Estate Society
SRES Senior Real Estate Specialist
First Meeting with Realtor
Most professional real estate agents in the Hingham area come prepared to the first meeting with a listing presentations specific to your home. The presentation can include their process of marketing, strategies for exposing your home to the right kind of buyers, and even a market analysis to inform both of you about realistic pricing.
Sometimes you just click with a real estate agent, and that is generally a positive indicator for forming the kind of business relationship you need to sell your home. But the questions you ask and the answers that follow are also an important step in the solidification of your hunch.
Here are just a few questions to consider asking when meeting:
Questions to Ask Prospective Realtors
1) How long have you worked as a full-time real estate agent?
2) What attracted you to selling real estate?
3) What were you doing before you started in real estate?
4) What do you like about your work?
5) What communities or towns have you sold real estate in?
6) Are there prior customers I can talk to?
7) What kind of properties do you handle?
8) Which neighborhoods are you most familiar with? (Neighborhood knowledge shows a deep and detailed expertise.)
9) How do you determine advertising placement and budget for my property?
10) What type of online marketing will you do for my house? (92% of homebuyers start their house hunt online)
11) How many photos will accompany my listing? (Listings with more than 6 pictures are twice as likely to be viewed)
12) How long are homes in this neighborhood typically on the market?
13) How would you price my home?
14) How many homes did you sell last year?
15) How soon can I expect to hear back from you when I call?
16) What is your policy on giving feedback after showings?
17) What is your fee?
18) What method of communicating works best? Email, text, telephone?
19) Do you work independently or as part of a team?
20) How many active listings do you currently have?
21) How do you use social media for business?
What Happens Once you Decide on a Realtor?
You will sign the listing agreement after your Realtor goes over it with you, fill out disclosure forms and any other paperwork that the broker requires. You will look over a comparative market analysis (CMA), also called “comps,” which is a detailed listing of homes currently for sale and recently sold in your neighborhood and area. This is how your home is then priced to sell.
Perhaps you will both agree to make small changes to your home to broaden audience appeal, or even consult with a professional staging company. Photos will be taken and the listing data will be entered into the Multiple Listing Service database. The Multiple Listing Service or MLS for short, is a local groups of agents who share listings. It is cooperative model of networking that works in the seller’s best interest by exposing the property to all real estate agents. Additionally, many Realtors host a broker’s open house to expose new homes on the market to other real estate agents. These are generally held on Fridays.
Your Realtor will share with you the marketing and advertising plans for your home. Some of the things included will be signage, open houses, print media, Internet listings and even ways that you can help in the process. Adding comments to various listing sites and social media platforms helps to generate energy and attract potential buyers.
The job of a professional real estate agent is to represent your best interests throughout every step of the sales process. Your agent will listen to your needs and help navigate through the multi-layered process of selling your home and finding a new house. Once your relationship is established, you will receive the highest levels of professional and individualized services built on trust, integrity and the attention to detail required in today’s real estate market.
As always, thank you so much for reading my Massachusetts real estate articles. I welcome feedback and ideas at any time. If you are considering a move to the beautiful South Shore of Massachusetts I can show you premier waterfront homes for sale, and I can list your home for sale in Hingham, Cohasset, Norwell or any of the surrounding areas. Contacting me is easy! Call 781-724-7622, email me, or visit my real estate agent website.