What to Look for in a Realtor When Selling Your Home?

There is more to selling a home than simply taking pictures, sticking a sign on the front lawn and putting it on a multiple listing service.

Lots of agents claim to be “Number 1” and some have the statistics to prove it, but as we all know figures can be misleading.

As a former writer for the Charlotte Sun’s ‘Eye on the Market” real estate column I shared with readers what makes a good agent and what it takes to sell a home in a changing market.  I also described the personality of the buyer in the market today, and the best strategies to consider when selling a home.

Some basic misnomers you should understand when selling your home!!

Print advertising and open houses rarely sell the home they are featuring.  Print media has been on a steady decline as today’s consumer is more tech savvy and searches on line from the unique hard to find item to a large size purchase such as a car, boat or home.  Print advertising satisfies the seller, but does little to generate the kind of interest needed to sell a home.  Most honest agents will tell you they only placed the property in the paper to satisfy the request of the seller, but that the money spent could have been better used elsewhere.

Open houses are another marketing format that rarely brings the buyer for the specific property being featured.  Most agents do open houses for a two-fold purpose, 1. To satisfy the seller’s interest and 2. To generate more contacts in which to sell them another property.  Most statistics show that selling a home off an open house is in the 1-2% range.  The clientele typically attending open houses in this area are primarily neighbors or our seasonal visitors affectionately referred to as “snow birds” looking for something to do on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but with no serious interest.  There are some agents who feel that an open house does nothing to qualify a potential buyer and that everyone and anyone can attend the open house, and for some, that can be a security issue as well.

So how do I sell my home the fastest and for the highest possible price?

A good Realtor should provide an abundance of information that clearly defines market trends, the comparative properties used to establish an attractive price point and suggestions for enhancing the appearance of your home.

While marketing strategies are of vital importance, how your Realtor is networked and involved in the community, their ability to show the value of your home in comparison to others in the area, the pricing of your home will be the most important factor than the number of internet sites your home will be posted.

Today’s trend is internet marketing, with over 80 % of the buyers in the market researching the internet first.  While having the ability to reach out to local area buyers and those from around the U.S.is essential, there is a growing trend to market internationally as private individuals and investors alike see the U.S. as a safe haven and more stable than many other countries around the world.  To appeal to this broad consumer base it is vitally important that the unique features of the home are “romanced” in such a way to appeal to this varied customer mix resulting in more interest to the featured property.

However, all the best marketing strategies, virtual tours and other forms of exposure will not accomplish a fast sale at the highest price if the property is not competitively priced.  Simply stated, “If you are not getting showings, the list price of the property is not in the ballpark and a significant price reduction is required, but if you are getting showings but no offers, then a more reasonable price reduction is recommended.”

While there are some agents who try to get listings by recommending higher than realistic market valuations for your home and then trying to slash the price to more realistic levels shortly thereafter, there is nothing more frustrating to a Realtor who after presenting current market information and trends, cannot get the seller to reduce the price of the property to a realistic market valuation.  Usually the result is both the seller and the Realtor get frustrated with the lack of showings on the home, and when the listing expires the next agent who lists the home winds up doing so at a price the previous Realtor was trying to achieve.

Put yourself in the buyer’s position when selling your home!

When you consider your own spending habits, you will realize that unless it is a one of a kind item, you are typically shopping for a bargain.  The same is true for buying a home.

As I reflect on one of my most popular articles I wrote in my “Eye on the Market” column, one of the most telling aspects about the buyer in today’s market is that more than ever they have been conditioned to get a bargain.  The days of marking up an item or a property to then mark it down are over.  Today’s buyer is more informed and has often been referred to as a “comparative” shopper.  Even with a fist full of cash, today’s buyer wants to know the list price is already very attractive and shows great value, and from there they will negotiate.

Long gone is the strategy of listing the house a bit higher and then letting the buyer come with an offer to be negotiated.  Simply stated, “If the property isn’t perceived as a good deal to begin with, the buyer won’t even make an offer as they feel there is just too much of a difference to be negotiated from where the property is listed, to what they are willing to pay.”  The buyer usually making an offer on a property listed above the market will counter with an offer than is excessively low.

So how do I sell my home fast and for the most money?

Selling your home and for the most amount of money requires a paradigm shift.  If you list your property slightly below the market, you will sell your home faster and for more money in the long run.  Your initial thought may be, “if I sold my home below the market, how did I get the most money for my home,” and this is where you have to shift your thinking.

Listing your home at the same price or higher than all the other homes in the market will not get the exposure you are looking for and typically results in your “chasing the market down.”  As the entire market reduces its price in order to attract more buyers, you wind up doing the same and before you know it, between the price you will eventually have to reduce your home to in order to get it sold, coupled with the overhead you have incurred during this extended period of time, results in a lower profit margin for you as the seller.

Listing a home is a partnership.  The Realtor has to fulfill his or her obligation in marketing your home and you have to be willing to make your home not only perceived as a great value, but is in a condition that exceeds the buyer’s expectations.

One last thought for a successful sale of your home.

Just like a lawyer or physician whose opinion you seek and follow, the exceptional Realtor looks to you for the same trust and loyalty they are giving you.  Getting your home sold quickly for the highest possible price is part of the job, giving you a clear understanding of the process from the listing of your home to its final closing, while providing you an unparalleled level of service along the way is a must.

Many agents take an abundance of listings and then are not easily accessible when the seller has questions or concerns to be addressed.  Their sales figures may be impressive but it is not always indicative of the level of service or the homes they personally brought the buyer to.

As a final thought, there are some agents who charge an administrative fee when listing a home, or a “penalty” for terminating a listing prior to its expiration.

While a conscientious agent invests a great deal of time and expense in the marketing of a home, and does not want to lose a listing, there are times extenuating circumstances can arise that force a seller to request the cancellation of their listing agreement.  Although there have been instances where a seller wanted to cancel the listing to avoid paying the commissions to the Realtor for someone who approached them privately interested in purchasing the home, as long as requests are due to either a lack of satisfactory performance or an unanticipated change in events where selling the home is no longer in the seller’s best interest, there should be no penalty fee incurred.  An agent charging these fees on top of their commissions, either is not working in the best interest of his or her seller, or is not confident in their ability to successfully service the needs of the client.

If you want to sell your home quickly and for more money look for the experienced agent, who is well networked in the community, is easily accessible, will continue to keep you informed on market trends, has an attention to detail and possesses a creative marketing plan to get you the desired exposure for your home.  Pricing your home aggressively is the key to selling your home quickly by staying ahead of the rest of the market resulting in more money in your pocket.