Q: Do I really need an agent?
A: Most home sellers hire a real estate agent to list and sell their homes. Most of those who do not are known as For Sale By Owners, or FSBOs and they market and sell their homes by themselves. According to market research, only 11 percent of sellers end up successfully selling their home without a real estate agent.

Statistically, many FSBOs eventually hiring an agent because the agent will handle all the details of a successful home sale – including the contract, forms, and disclosure statements – and exposure to the widest range of prospective buyers through the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), their Network of other REALTORS®, contractors, vendors and service providers, as well as their sphere of influence and past clients. An agent will also have experience with pricing a home to sell and negotiating on your behalf.

Q: How do I choose an agent?
A: When selecting an agent, the best source may be your family and friends. Many may have sold a property in the past and can refer you to an agent they found to be capable. Selling a home is a complex transaction, so experience should be a consideration. Interview with multiple agents, and compare apples to apples by asking them the same questions:
  • "Do you work full time?" Generally, you're better off with a full-time agent who keeps up with the local market, financing considerations and laws. Part-time agents, on the other hand, can provide full-time attention to one client at a time.
  • "How long have you been in the real estate business?" Real estate is a field where people come and go often. Selling real estate isn't an easy thing to do, and many Realtors get discouraged and quit. It's important to choose someone with a determination to succeed as they will be the ones to work for what you want.
  • "How many homes have you listed during the past year?" Consider if you want an agent that has listed many houses or one that is newer to the listing market. Both have their value, and it is up to you to decide if seasoned experience or a fresh perspective is more important.
  • "Do you create custom marketing plans for every home?" If the answer is no, you should reconsider this agent. Properties are not cookie cutter and require unique marketing concepts to sell most quickly. A great agent should have a dynamic, adaptable marketing plan to get your home in front of as many people as possible!
  • "Have you ever had any complaints from your clients?" It's a tough but necessary question. Double-check the answer with our local Realtor Association and the state licensing office.
  • "Can you give me names and phone numbers of past clients for references?" Hear from their past clients personally or see if they have reviews on their website or social media.
  • "How often will I hear from you? How frequently do you normally communicate with clients and how (phone, e-mail, fax)?" If you don't like the answers, you should discuss this at length until you're satisfied. You don't want to be frustrated by an agent that contacts you too much or too little, and they should adapt to how you prefer to hear from them.
  • "Can you explain the marketplace and the market conditions?" A great agent should be able to give you a rundown of your current local market with information about who is buying and what price range is moving.
  • "What makes you different from your competitors?" This should tell you what sets them apart to sell your home the fastest and for the most money.
  • "Why should I choose you?" Only you know what a great answer is here. Remember that experience and expertise go hand-in-hand.

Q: What should I do to prepare my home for sale?
A: Start by finding out its worth. Contact a real estate agent for a comparative market analysis (CMA), an informal estimate of value based on the recent selling price of similar neighborhood properties, or get a certified appraiser to provide an appraisal.
Next, get busy working on your home’s appearance. You want to make sure it is in the best condition possible for showing to prospective buyers so that you can get top dollar. This means fixing anything that is broken or leaking, painting rooms with old paint or colors that may not be appealing to a buyer, and sprucing up any trouble spots that could deter a buyer, such as squeaky doors, a leaky roof, dirty carpet and walls, and broken windows. The trick is not to overspend on pre-sale repairs and fix-ups, especially if there are few homes on the market but many buyers competing for them. On the other hand, making such repairs may be the only way to sell your home in a down market.

Q: Should I sell my home first or wait until I have bought another home?
A: This is a tough decision, but the answer will depend on your personal situation, as well as the condition of the local housing market. If you put your home on the market first, you may have to scramble to find another one before settlement, which could cause you to buy a home that does not meet all your requirements. If you cannot find another home, you may need to move twice, temporarily staying with relatives or in a hotel. On the other hand, if you make an offer to buy first, you may be tempted to sell your existing home quickly, even at a lower price.

The advantage of buying first is you can shop carefully for the right home and feel comfortable with your decision before putting your existing home on the market. On the flip side, the advantage of selling your existing home first is that it maximizes your negotiating position because you are under no pressure to sell quickly. It also eliminates the need to carry two mortgages at once. Speak to your agent for advice. Discuss the pros and of each and whether certain contingencies written into the contract can ease some of the pressures.

Q: How do you determine how much a home is worth?
A: The short answer: a home is ultimately worth what is paid for it. Everything else is really an estimate of value. Take, for example, a hot seller’s market when demand for housing is high but the inventory of available homes for sale is low. During this time, homes can sell above and beyond the asking price as buyers bid up the price. The fair market value, or worth, is established when “a meeting of the minds” between you and the buyer takes place.

Q: How can I get a quick sale, particularly in a slow market?
A: One of the most important things to consider is the price. If you set a realistic and marketable price for your home at the very beginning, it will generate more buyer interest and probably have more offers. Cash is often an incentive, both for the buyer as well as the agent. You could offer the buyer a $1,000 to $2,000 decorating rebate upon closing the deal. Offer to pay closing costs. It is also not uncommon to offer the selling agent a $500 bonus. However, some brokers – who supervise agents and run real estate offices – may prohibit such incentives, as do some Realtor boards. Other common incentives: paying for the property inspection and warranty policy and getting your home preliminarily approved for FHA and VA loans, thereby making it more attractive to a larger number of buyers. Contact a lender who writes FHA-insured and VA-guaranteed loans.

Q: What are the costs involved?
A: Fees vary depending on the type of property as well as what is negotiated in the sale. Your Realtor® can provide an estimated closing statement to give you an estimate of what is to be paid as part of the sale. Some costs include lender fees, escrow fees, home inspection, and the appraisal.

Q: What factors can influence the price of my home?
A: You want your home to sell for the highest price possible, but also in a timely fashion. Here are some factors that influence the price of your home:
  • Current real estate market conditions
  • The expertise and market knowledge of your real estate representative
  • Hard facts such lot size, square footage and condition of your home
  • Desirability factors, including location, special amenities, and property attributes
  • Selling and listing price of comparable homes in the area
  • A sophisticated real estate marketing plan
  • Your level of motivation
  • Conditions that do not affect the price of your home
  • The profit you wish to make from the sale
  • The amount of money spent on improvements
  • The original price you paid for your home

Q: What is the best approach to pricing my home?
A: The best approach is to price a home just within the market value range. This allows room for negotiation, without sacrificing exposure. Make no mistake; we want you to get the best possible price for your property. However, when a home is priced too high for the market this may:
  • Attract lookers, not legitimate buyers
  • Imply you aren't motivated to sell
  • Reduce the number of showings
  • Help competitive listings look better
  • Cause financing issues for the buyer if the property doesn't appraise at the higher price
  • Ultimately force you to drop the price below market value in order to sell
Q: What is the difference between list price and sales price?
A: The list price is your advertised price, or asking price, for a home. It is a rough estimate of what you want to complete a home sale. A good way to determine if the list price is a fair one is to look at the sales prices of similar homes that have recently sold in the area. The sales price is the actual amount the home sells for.

Q: What is my role in the selling process?
A: No one has a more important role in the home selling process than you. Here are some ways your participation can contribute to a successful sale:
  • Maintain the property
  • Ensure the property is easily accessible for showings
  • Communicate - let your agent know how to contact you
  • Remove or lock up valuables
  • Secure pets
  • Limit conversations with buyers/agents about price

Have a question that you don't see here? Contact us for the answer!