Selling a Home:
Finding a Listing Agent Right for You

You've decided to work with a real estate agent in selling your home.  Now, how do you find several good agents to choose from?  And what do you consider as you decide which one is right for you?

Getting a "Short List"

Most areas have no shortage of good, professional real estate agents who can ably assist you.  Therefore, doing a little homework using the following sources will most likely result in a workable short list:

  • Referrals.  Ask people you know and trust whom they worked with that did an excellent job for them.  Focus on agents that helped them sell their homes.  And if family or friends refer someone they worked with in a purchase situation, find out if that agent works exclusively or primarily with buyers. 
  • Advertisements.  Check out which agents frequently advertise and whether they are use multiple advertising channels.  When you look through local printed publications, see which ads you find most appealing and which ones motivate you to call.   Also pay attention to the marketing presence of the agent as well as the promotion of homes.
  • Web Search.   Perform an Internet search on homes for sale in your area to see which agents/firms rise to the top of the results listing. Visit their web site and look at it from the perspective of a potential buyer.  Is it easy to search for homes?  Do they have an automated search tool that notifies buyers when a home matching their criteria becomes available?  How attractive are the photos, and are there multiple photos or a virtual tour?

Conducting Agent Interviews

Once you have developed a list of "finalists," contact each one.  Schedule an appointment to conduct an interview.  Most agents offer a no-obligation listing presentation where they tell you about their services and why you should list with them.  You should also use that time to ask questions that will help you determine if they are in fact the person you want to work with.   Areas to cover include:

  • Professional qualifications and experience. Find out how long they have been in the real estate profession and whether they work full-time in the business.  Ask about professional memberships and certifications or designations.
  • Marketing strategy.  You want to know what tactics will be used to specifically market your home.  Ask about open houses, online and print promotions, and what referral networks they use to gain maximum exposure for your home.
  • Track record.  What is the agent's track record in terms of number of homes sold and average time to sell?  Ask what percentage of listings that sell for asking price or close to it.  What is their level of repeat business, and what do past clients have to say about them?
  • Commission and agreement.  What is their commission rate? What type of listing agreement are you expected to sign, and what are the provisions for exceptions to the commission, duration of the listing period, and responsibilities of the firm and its agents? 
  • Unique Selling Proposition.  What is it that makes the agent stand out among the many other agents that offer comparable services?  What can they do for you that others don't?

While interviewing, get a sense of the agent's personality and work style.  Remember that an agent may be the most capable, experienced, and successful one on your short list, but if you don't feel comfortable with that person, he/she may not be the best choice for you.

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.