“How to Find a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Single Family Home” is part one of our six part “How to Sell a Single Family Home” series.
When everything with your sale feels like it’s about to fall apart, your real estate agent is the person who’s going to pull it all back together. The National Association of Realtors lists that only 8% of sales were For Sale By Owner in 2015. For good reason: not only can your agent save a failing sale, you’ll make more money with an agent by your side.
For Melissa P. and her family, their real estate agent Jeff Galindo solved a huge issue with closing and he walked everyone through the very difficult process with care and expertise.
Melissa told us, “Jeff was amazing. He was always very calm and reassuring. There were a couple of times when I had emotional meltdowns when he was over checking in on us, where he just sat there and held my hand and gave me a hug. He’d calm me down and he’d reassure me that everything would work out and he was working on things.
He knows the realty business so well inside and out. He approached every little hiccup we had with a smile and the right answers and solutions to every question or problem that we had. I felt really, really fortunate to have him helping us with the sale of the house.”
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a real estate agent is that it’s the agent’s job to get you out of the ruts you’ll inevitably run into during the selling process–not get you stuck in them. We’ll walk you through how to find a real estate agent who can help you sell your single family home faster and for more money than an average real estate agent would.
Start Your Agent Search by the Numbers
When you look for a real estate agent, it’s imperative that you only interview agents who rank in the top 5% of high performers in your area. These agents have the most experience with all kinds of real estate transactions and they’re arguably the best in their field.
You can use HomeLight to get an unbiased look at agent statistics and find the agents nearby who outsell all of their peers for single family homes like yours.
The platform will walk you through a simple questionnaire to get to know your needs as a seller. Then you’ll match with two of the best agents in the area who are perfect for you. Since you’re selling a single family house, you’ll only meet agents with a proven track record of success selling single family homes.
After you match with the agents, they’ll reach out to schedule a meeting.
Here’s What You Should Ask Them When They Call
Your initial interview with a real estate agent is the best way to figure out if it’s going to be a match. You need to get as much information as you can from the onset. These are sample questions to take with you to the first meeting with your agent so that you’re prepared to find the best agent for you. We think they’re the most important questions to ask if you’re trying to find an agent who can sell your single family home fast and for the most money.
1. How Well Do You Know My Area And The Local Market?
An agent who doesn’t know your local market won’t know the essential things you need in a home. A top agent? They’ll know the area like they laid every brick in the neighborhood.
For example, Chris Bessette, a top 1% real estate agent for selling single family homes in Orlando, Florida, is currently selling his own house. We asked him if he would have considered having a different agent sell his own house.
Here’s what he said:
“If I was selling a property out of state, I totally would have hired another agent…just because I don’t know the area. So I would rely on the agent to educate me on schools, and restaurants, and traffic patterns, and all of that stuff that comes with it. For the house I’m living in? No, I’ve got it, that’s what I do.”
As Chris points out, your agent needs to be aware of your location’s nuances. These include top schools and traffic, how busy a street gets, noise pollution, great food, nearby amenities like grocery stores, and shopping. The better your agent knows your location, the more he can talk up the positives to potential buyers and explain away the negatives.
2. What Should I Make My Priorities? What Do You Need From Me?
The answer to this question is going to vary from agent to agent, and could even vary from client to client. Your agent might make preparing your home for sale a priority, fixing broken parts, or making your house available for showings at any time (or all of the above!). Just make sure you feel comfortable with these priorities and that they seem reasonable enough that you can fit them into your already busy schedule.
3. What Do You Recommend I Do to Prepare My Single Family House for Sale?
Red flags here include any sort of major renovation project. Most large scale home renovation projects end up losing you money in the end, even if they add value to your home.
What is reasonable is fixing anything that might come up in the home inspection, repainting the interior, getting hardwood floors polished or carpets cleaned, and scrubbing the home from top to bottom. Small, low cost renovation fixes (swapping out kitchen counters, updating lighting fixtures, painting kitchen cabinets) are also reasonable.
4. Will I Work With Only You or a Team?
There are advantages to working with a singular agent and with a real estate team.
A team is beneficial because each member has different strengths they can bring to the table. One person may be an expert negotiator, another could be great at staging. On the other hand, the benefit to working with one agent is that they’ll get to know you better as a client. They’ll learn your needs and wants from the sale process without you having to explain over again every time.
With benefits on either side, you need to figure out what kind of situation works best for you!
5. How Will You Market My House?
With so many new internet technologies available and the social media empire growing, you need to make sure that your real estate agent does everything possible to market your single family home. Your agent should come prepared with a marketing strategy and evidence to support that it works.
In order to make your house stand out among all of the other homes in the area, you need to tap into what makes your single family home unique. You and your real estate agent should play up the lifestyle a buyer could live only within the walls of your house. Make sure your agent plans to call out the benefits of living in a single family home (backyard, more space, charming neighborhood, etc.) versus any other type of property.
At the very least, your real estate agents should create amazing visual material. That means they should have a professional take photos and make a virtual walkthrough plus video and aerial footage of the property and neighborhood. They should also list the home on the MLS, do broker tours and advertise the house to other top agents in the area, and create a social media and email campaign.
Come Into the Meeting Knowing Your Agent’s Sales Stats
Each agent’s profile on HomeLight gives you performance statistics like how many homes the agent has sold and how they rank against the other agents in their market. Familiarize yourself with the agent’s numbers before you even sit down with them for the interview.
How to Find a Real Estate Agent: Test for Personality and Fit
You’re going to have a lot of conversations with your real estate agent and spend a lot of time in meetings. It’s imperative that at your first meeting you have a good rapport with the agent and feel a positive vibe.
There’s no need to hand each agent a Meyers Briggs level personality test to see if you’ll mesh well. The best way to figure out if you and your prospective real estate agent are a match is if you see them as Melissa said about Jeff, “personable and a great person to talk to.”
A Note About Commissions…
While it’s tempting to ask a real estate agent to lower his commission, don’t! Real estate agent commissions are what pay to market your property and make buyers fall in love with it. In the end, you’ll make more money in profits than you spend on fees anyway.
How the Listing Agreement Works
Once you decide on a top real estate agent, she will ask you to sign a listing agreement. These agreements are standard in the industry and protect both you and the real estate agent throughout the entire process of selling your single family home.
The listing agreement includes clauses like: exclusive right to sell, commission rate and obligations, length of listing agreement, a protective clause so that you don’t find and sell to a buyer without your agent to avoid paying the commission, and the official list price for your home.
Look over your listing agreement carefully!
Want more advice on selling your single family home? Read Part 2: Pricing a Home for Sale: Why It’s Important and How to Hit the Sweet Spot.