Choosing the Right Agent
Answer: If your son has a California real estate license and it is active, then he could be your agent. However, I suspect that you would like to have someone selling your home that is active in the local area and can do all the functions that would be necessary to sell your home. You need representation by a qualified agent that is available to show your home and meet with prospective buyers. You would need an agent that can evaluate the local comparable properties to determine the fair market value of your home. It is important to have your home staged for sale and that would require the presence of a local agent. There are so many functions performed by an agent to insure that you will get the best price that it would be costly to try to sell using a remote agent. No disrespect to your son but he is not your best resource to sell your home. Of course you would like your son to benefit from the sale as he has chosen the profession of real estate. Although you did not state whether he has a California real estate license, I suspect that is not the case. He is probably licensed in another state. His license must be active in that state. If you would like to include him in the transaction, then he should help you select a local agent to represent you and ask for a referral fee from that agent. This is common practice in the industry. The referral fee would be worked out between the agents and would generally be in the 20-25% range. That means that your son would receive 20-25% of the listing side commission. That is significant. To those of you who are thinking of moving out of state and are looking for a local agent to sell your home, here is another suggestion: if you appreciate the job your agent does in selling your home, you can ask your agent to research in the area you are moving and recommend to you the agent you should consider at your destination. Your local agent would then interview that agent and if everyone is in agreement, your agent would ask for a referral fee to be paid at the close of your new home in the new location (that fee is paid by the seller). Excellent agents know what to look for in another excellent agent and that can be a real benefit to you as you move to the next locale. In conclusion, use a local agent but have that agent pay a referral fee to your son.
Answer: I am sure we have answered that question in the past but it is an important question for you to have an answer. If you interview all the agents that say they are number one, then you will have a long list of interviewees. The best way to get your answers is to pick several agents that you recognize from signs around the city. That is a way to determine a volume of business. Often someone recommends you hire the agent that lives in your neighborhood. That could be a good idea but that person should come under the same scrutiny as any other agent you are considering. Being the local expert is not as important as past results. So, what would I recommend as a criteria for finding your agent? I would ask a few friends, and particularly if they have bought or sold a property recently, who they recommend. I would drive around the city and check out who is doing open houses and drop in to look at the houses and see who is showing the house. It is a great way to interview an agent without the agent even knowing you are doing that. You can look at the ads in the paper as well. Usually the agents that are advertising are doing a good volume of business or they could not afford the advertising. Your goal is to come up with a list of three or four agents you think might be the best and then set up interviews with each one. "What should I be looking for in the interview?" you are asking. First, you are looking for their real estate sales results in the last few years. If they are going to sell your house, then the best indicator that is going to happen is their past results. A person that has sold a couple of houses in the last year is not as good as somebody who has sold fifty houses. The lower volume agents will tell you the higher volume agent will not have time for you because they have too much volume. I don't want somebody that has all the time in the world but can't get the job done. I wouldn't look for a surgeon that has only done one or two surgeries to cut me open. I would look for the person that does that surgery every day. I want results. Ask each agent for their written production. Then I would ask the agent for their marketing plan for my house. What will they do to get my house sold? What kind of advertising? Will they stage my house? Do they use professional photography? What will their brochure look like? Ask to see an example of the brochure. Then the final piece of the decision is, can I work with this person. Do I feel comfortable with them as you may be involved for a couple of months or so and you want to feel comfortable with them as a person? While commission charges are important to you, don't just hire the agent because they will charge less in commission. If they do not have strong negotiating skills, then you will end up with less money in the end. In fact, if you think you will be money ahead because the agent will only charge you 4% total commission, think again, as that means when the agents look up your property on the MLS they will see a 2% commission if they sell your house but will see other houses at 2.5% to 3% and will be inclined to show those houses first to their clients as it would mean a higher payday. I consider the commission rate a marketing tool to bring the most prospective buyers to your home and a higher commission does that more effectively and often gets you a higher price. So, choose carefully and thoughtfully and you will get the best agent to sell your home.
Question: What do you consider the three most important attributes of a good real estate agent?
Answer: That is a good question and I have thought about my answer. It is hard to limit it to three attributes. As a result I am going to focus on attributes that help get a property sold or purchased for the client. Focused on the outcome for the client would be number one on my list. What this means is the agent is looking out for their client every day and is anticipating the next moves to accomplish the goal. What changes need to be made to make this transaction happen or get the property sold? What changes should be made to the marketing or is there another mailing that would help us get a buyer? What has been the feedback from those who have seen the property and have I made changes to address those concerns, if possible? My clients like to receive feedback so they know what is being said about their property. That means telling them the good and the bad. Focus means that the agent is working with the client for the best outcome. Number two would be the agent is a good negotiator when the deal is being made. Willing to drive a hard but reasonable bargain is important. Sometimes that means the negotiation skills demand the seller consider a price they would rather not accept. You want an agent that tells you the truth and gives you advice you may not want to hear. Most deals require some give and take but often the client does not get the push to accept less than they want and as a result may end up with a deal at a much lower number or not at all. While the agent and the client should enjoy each other’s company, the transaction may require some hard advice that may not initially feel friendly. Lastly, after the attributes of focus and negotiation, the attribute of finishing strong makes for a good agent. You want that agent to never disappear during the transaction and to be present for you throughout the transaction. You want that agent to be on your side after the home has sold or been purchased. You want that agent to be YOUR agent for life and that means the agent finishes strong. You have received excellent care and advice and you have accomplished your goal of selling or buying that perfect property; now, you want your agent to be available for advice after the sale or until you need to sell or buy again. Professionals are more concerned about the client relationship and the opportunity to serve their clients friends in the future. So look for someone who is focused on your outcome, who has strong negotiation skills, and, finally, a person who desires to finish strong and continue the relationship with you.