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How to choose a real estate agent for selling your house

What’s inside:

A realtor and investor exchange

There’s a lot that goes on in the home selling process, from staging and marketing your home, dealing with prospective buyers, handling paperwork, and going through the various steps of closing.

Unless you have extensive knowledge of your local real estate market, putting a home on the market can be challenging. There’s a lot of information to sift through and important decisions to make, which is why it can often feel intimidating, especially for first-time home sellers. And it’s understandable – after all, you just want to make sure you do everything right.

Fortunately, you can rely on an expert who can make your real estate transaction seamless and stress-free. Real estate agents are professionals who have the experience, skills, and resources needed to help clients as they navigate the home selling process. Additionally, they can even help you get an excellent return on investment. 

Are you planning to put your property on the market? You’ve come to the right place! On this page, we’ll delve deeper into how to choose the right real estate agent for selling your home. We’ll take a closer look at the benefits you get when you work alongside an agent, the disadvantages of selling a property on your own, what characteristics to look for when choosing an agent, and more.

Importance of hiring a real estate agent

An agent and client shaking hands

In general, selling a home is a long and tedious process involving many stages and procedural formalities. Knowing how to choose a real estate agent for selling your house requires an understanding of their role, what they bring to the table, and how they can ultimately help you successfully sell your home. 

Benefits of working with a real estate agent

When you’re selling your home, working alongside a real estate agent will give you peace of mind and the confidence to make smart, well-informed decisions throughout the selling process. 

Here are several benefits you can get when you hire a real estate agent to sell your home:

Educated and unbiased pricing assistance

As the home seller, your main goal is to get the best price for your home as quickly as possible, so you can move into your next residence.

The price you set for your home plays a crucial role when you’re trying to achieve this goal. Since you’re the homeowner, you may already have an idea about your home’s worth. However, being objective might be somewhat challenging when you’re trying to come up with an estimate.

When determining a fair asking price for a home, a real estate agent uses facts by analyzing your home and collecting information on recent sales of comparable properties. They are professionals who have zero emotional attachments to your home, allowing them to assist you in setting a fair and competitive price point informed by various factors in your local real estate market.  

Selling and marketing expertise

Whether you’re a first-time home seller or someone who has sold a home in the past, a real estate agent will be able to provide more insight into the finer details that goes on during the home selling process. 

While it’s possible to sell your home without assistance, keep in mind that a real estate transaction is likely one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make during your lifetime. Enlisting a professional who can help you navigate the ins and outs of the transaction is always a smart move.

During your open house or viewing, your agent will also determine which feedback from prospective buyers is worth considering to help boost your home’s chances of selling. 

Filtering out unqualified buyers

Real estate agents know how to tell serious, qualified buyers apart from curious onlookers. Making sure your home looks presentable takes a lot of time and effort, so you want to make sure your showings are limited only to potential buyers who are likely to make an offer.

When you work with a real estate agent, you have someone trained to determine the qualification and motivations of prospective buyers. They are professionals who know exactly how to guide a qualified and motivated buyer towards the point of purchase —a skill most people do not have.

Price negotiations

Real estate agents are experienced in negotiating home purchases. They know how to spot telltale signs of a wary or disingenuous buyer.

If you’re attempting to sell your home on your own, there’s a stronger likelihood of making poor, irrational decisions, as you might be emotional about the process, which could lead to making emotionally charged responses when dealing with buyers. An agent, on the other hand, will handle situations professionally and objectively.

Agents also have extensive knowledge of the local market and know exactly what’s driving demand in your area, which places them in an advantageous position during negotiations. 

Network of resources

Working with a real estate agent also gives you access to their various connections in the industry. As a home seller, your agent will be able to provide a list of recommended stagers, contractors, landscapers, plumbers, repair companies, and other professionals that can prepare your home for the market. 

Your agent will also share your listing with other real estate agents who might have interested clients, which increases your chances of getting an offer. 

Protection from legal risks

A home sale involves plenty of legal paperwork, including the seller’s disclosure, which is one of the most important items in the transaction. Sellers who do not disclose properly can be held liable for breach of contract, fraud, or negligence. 

Real estate agents are familiar with disclosure laws, which protect you from any potential legal risks. While they can make mistakes, agents are covered by professional errors and omissions insurance, helping you avoid situations where the buyer sues you for damages.  

Real estate agents help you sell your home faster

A real estate agent knows exactly what makes a home sell. They’ll point out any changes that can be done to your home to help it attract more buyers and fetch top-dollar offers. They’ll also shine the spotlight on any negative aspects in your home you might be oblivious to – either because you see them on a daily basis, or simply don’t consider them flaws.

Disadvantages of going FSBO

An agent calculating

Although choosing to go the “for sale by owner” route or FSBO means you won’t need to pay any commission fees, there are a lot of significant drawbacks for you to consider when selling your house without an agent. 

In most cases, problems arise due to two main factors shared by almost all FSBO sellers: lack of experience and local market knowledge.

Here are some major disadvantages many sellers encounter when deciding to go FSBO:

You need to invest a lot of time in the process

Putting a home on the market is already a time-consuming process – even more so if you’re working without an agent.

If you’re really set on selling a home without hiring a real estate agent, you need to make sure your schedule will be able to accommodate all of the many different tasks involved in a home sale, such as preparing your home, addressing inquiries, scheduling showings, and so on. You’ll need to consider the possibility that your home may even end up selling for less than if you hired an agent in the first place.

If you don’t think all of it is worth the huge amount of time you’ll spend doing all the heavy lifting on your own, then you may need to think twice about going FSBO.

You’ll need to handle negotiations on your own

If you’re not exactly an experienced or skilled negotiator, then you’ll be better off hiring a professional agent who will negotiate on your behalf.

Many FSBO sellers make the mistake of thinking that the only important factor that determines the success or failure of a negotiation is the selling price. There are situations, however, that even the most motivated sellers feel some emotional attachment to their home which impedes their ability to finalize the deal. Some sellers also do not have the experience to recognize a quality offer, even if it’s right in front of them. In which case, working with a professional will help close the transaction faster. 

Selling without in-depth knowledge of the local market is challenging

Even if you’ve lived in the area for decades, you probably still don’t have the same local market expertise possessed by a real estate agent who has years of experience handling transactions in your area. 

Full-time real estate agents handle dozens of transactions every year, and those associated with reputable brokerages might participate in hundreds of sales annually. They are able to recognize trends that are not apparent to non-professionals and know how to process that information into effective strategies that will benefit the seller. 

You might be limiting your buyer pool

It’s understandable that some buyer’s agents get a little wary when they’re dealing with FSBO. It’s because they’re responsible for ensuring a smooth process for their client. A seller who isn’t experienced with the various steps involved will likely cause delays in the process, or worse – result in the outright cancellation of the transaction.

While it’s true that you won’t be 100% protected even if you hire an agent, the likelihood of causing deal-breaking problems or having miscommunications with a buyer’s agent will be reduced significantly if you have official representation. 

Helpful tips on how to choose a real estate agent for selling your home

Business people discussing

Finding the right real estate agent to help you sell your home isn’t always easy, but as long as you take time to research thoroughly and know what type of qualities to look for, you’ll be able to find a reliable professional who will help you achieve your goals.

There are different ways to find a real estate agent. You could get in touch with the same agent who helped you purchase your current home, ask for referrals from family or friends, or search for agents online. 

But how can you determine whether or not a particular agent will be able to deliver the results you’re looking for? Here are some helpful tips:

The role of a listing agent

Before you create a list of potential candidates, it’s important to have a clear sense of how a real estate agent will be able to assist you during a sale.

There’s a lot on the line when you’re selling a home, so you need to know exactly what your goals are to find an agent who will help you attain them. Primary functions of a listing agent include:

  • Help you set a fair and competitive price for your home
  • Market and promote your home
  • Negotiate with buyers
  • Handle the home inspection and closing

Start your search early

Try to find a listing agent at least six to eight weeks before listing your home on the market. This will give you some leeway, which can be extremely helpful during the early stages, especially if the agent you hire recommends upgrades or repairs before your home hits the market. 

Key questions to ask during the interview

When you’re interviewing a potential candidate, these questions will help you assess whether an agent is a good match and if they’re capable of getting you the results you need.

  • How long have you been a real estate agent? – Like most jobs, work experience isn’t always an indication of skill. However, expertise in real estate is gained on the job. Working with an agent who has spent years in the business will give you an advantage since they’re more familiar with your local market.

  • How many homes have you sold in the past year? –  It’s important to find someone who has successfully completed several transactions in your neighborhood, especially if there are hundreds of listings within your area every year.  

  • What is the typical price range of properties you sell? – Although most real estate agents have handled homes with various price points, it’s important to find an agent who has previous experience selling homes within your range.

  • How long do your listings usually stay on the market, and what’s your average sold-to-list price? – This question will provide insight into an agent’s marketing and negotiating skills. These statistics are readily available on your local multiple listing service, so any agent should be able to provide an answer to this question. 

  • What marketing strategies will you use? – These days, selling a home requires more than just sticking a “for sale” sign in the front yard and waiting for calls. You want an agent who’ll be able to provide a comprehensive marketing strategy for your home. This strategy should include steps like staging, professional videos and photography, and organizing an open house.

  • How do you plan to market my listing online? – This is a good follow-up question to the previous one. Any savvy real estate agent has a robust plan designed to market your listing online. A significant percentage of buyers start their home search online, so it’s important to choose an agent who has a strong online presence. Visit their website, check out their virtual tours, and find them on social media to see how they promote themselves and their listings online.

  • Do you partner with other industry professionals to help sell homes? – Experienced and reliable real estate agents don’t do all of the hard work by themselves. They have a network of resources and have worked with other professionals involved in the business, such as mortgage brokers, professional stagers, home inspectors, landscapers, and real estate lawyers, among others. While an agent can recommend a particular professional or company, never feel pressured to use any of their recommendations. It’s illegal for a real estate agent to force their client to use their lender or any service provider. 

  • How do you plan to stay in touch with me? – The right answer to this question depends on your preference. For example, if you prefer talking on the phone, an agent who uses email as their primary mode of communication might not be a good fit. 

Although there’s really no tried-and-tested method on how to choose a real estate agent for selling, following the tips mentioned above will improve your chances of finding an agent who will make your home sale efficient and stress-free. 

Work with our team of expert Realtors® at Potterton Rule today!

Our team of experienced and skilled Realtors® at Potterton Rule are ready to go above and beyond to sell your home at the best price.

For over 80 years, we have been helping countless property buyers and sellers looking to fulfill their real estate and insurance needs in Southwest Wisconsin.

If you’re ready to put your property on the market, give us a call today at 608.935.2396, or send an email to info(at)pottertonrule(dotted)com