Thursday, June 19, 2008

20 Questions To Ask Prospective Listing Agents

When facing the daunting task of selecting a listing agent to handle the sale of our condo, how many of us are influenced by the agent's personal appearance or charm?

Pop Quiz: Given the choice, would you select a typical-looking agent or, assuming she is licensed, Charisma Carpenter (at left)? According to her bio, the actress did once work in property management.

If you answered Charisma, do yourself a favor and read the following article and heed its advice.

Even if you resisted the temptation to pick Charisma, we still recommend the article, as it's one of the best we've read on how to select a listing agent. We are grateful to Christina Hunter (pictured below), an agent with RE/MAX Olson & Associates, in Ventura County, Calif., for this contribution:

For most people their home is their single largest investment, yet when they are ready to sell, most people take little care in finding the right person for the job. Selling your home can sometimes be a challenging and frustrating experience. But with the support and guidance of an experienced professional, it can be a smooth and enjoyable process.

When you decide to sell your home, you should interview several real-estate agents to determine who will do the best job for you in your situation. It is important to choose an agent who is not only knowledgeable about the market and experienced in handling the complexities of a transaction, but it is also important to choose an agent who listens to your needs, shows professionalism and whose personality is complimentary to yours. After all, selling your home should be a joint effort.

Remember, not all agents are the same. Each is an independent contractor with his or her own experience, education and ways of doing business. By asking some key questions, you will be able to determine who will be the right person for the important job of selling your home.

Below are 20 important questions you should ask when interviewing prospective agents.

1. Are you a full-time professional agent or just a part-time sales agent?

2. Are you a Realtor (member of the National Association of Realtors) and a member of all local associations with full Multiple Listing Service access?

3. How long have you been in the business and how many transactions do you close annually?

4. Do you hold any degrees or special real-estate designations?

5. Will you provide me with a list of your most recent customers with their feedback about your service and capabilities?

6. Will you maintain consistent communication with me and guide me through the home- selling process from start to finish, even after closing?

7. What is my competition and how does my home compare? Please provide me with a list of all active, pending, sold, cancelled and expired listings within the last six months.

8. What are the current local market conditions, including average list times, buying trends, local job market and other community-specific factors that would affect the saleability of my home?

9. How will you help me determine a fair selling price for my home that will bring me the best possible selling price in the shortest amount of time?

10. How much would it cost a buyer to purchase my home today and what type of financing is available for buyers in my price range?

11. I am aware that more than 80 percent of home buyers first see a home on the Internet. In addition to a standard marketing plan, do you have a specific Internet marketing plan that will bring my home maximum Internet exposure?

12. What systems do you have in place for attracting buyers and maintaining consistent follow up with other agents and potential buyers?

13. Will you conduct an evaluation of my home and guide me in preparing my home for showing in order to make the best first impression on buyers?

14. Will you help me stay objective during the process by providing me with relevant updates and facts to help me make the best possible decision for my financial future?

15. When an offer is made, will you evaluate the buyer's qualifications, explain my options to me, negotiate the best possible price, terms and conditions, and always look out for my best interests?

16. If I am planning on selling my home and buying another, can you guide me in how to successfully accomplish my goal? Are you experienced in negotiating and handling concurrent closings so my best interests are protected on both sides?

17. Will you review the costs of selling my home, as well as what my estimated net proceeds may be, before I sign the listing agreement?

18. If I must sell and I am not able to sell my home for enough to pay my lender(s) in full, are you experienced in helping people sell in these situations?

19. Have you ever had a grievance or complaint lodged against you with any association or any state real-estate department?

20. If we are unhappy or decide not to sell for whatever reason, can we cancel the listing at any time with no questions asked?

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