If you're getting ready to sell your home, finding a kick-ass listing agent should be at the top of your to-do list. But what is a listing agent? You might have a vague idea of someone who simply puts a "For Sale" sign on your front lawn and shows a few potential buyers around your home, but there's sooooooo much more to it. No two transactions are ever the same either.
Here's a short breakdown about what a great listing agent should do for, how an agent can make or break your sale, and how to find the perfect agent for you.
How a listing agent can help you decide on what to price your home?
How much is your home worth? That's always the toughest question to answer. You can get an estimated value by entering your address on Zillow, but Zillow has never been to your home so how the heck do they know? This is where a good listing agent can help you. A good agent will spend hours researching other comparable properties or “comps” with similar square footage, property and amenities to help you price your home just right and advise you accordingly.
Price your home too low, and you could lose out on a lot of money. Price it too high and the picture isn't pretty either. While it may be tempting to work with an agent who “guarantees” they can sell your home for a small fortune, overpricing may mean your home will sit on the market for months or even years, which in turn only makes buyers wonder if something's wrong with your home and then they will certainly send in lowball offers.
A Listing agent has a huge amount of responsibility. Remember, it’s also their reputation on the line, but at the top of the list is to properly price your home.
How a listing agent will help you sell your home…
After you determine an agreed upon asking price, your agent should provide you with a comprehensive marketing plan detailing how they’ll get your property sold. This plan should include the following:
· Recommendations for home improvements or home staging, if necessary.
· Get detailed information from you about your home in order to market properly (room measurements, neighborhood specifics, etc.)
· Hire a professional real estate photographer who will highlight your home's best features.
· Add your home to the multiple listing service (MLS) where buyers agents can view your property and decide if they should share with their clients. Some agents belong to several MLS’ in certain areas which advertise your home to a broader audience. For instance, in NJ there are 8 different options depending on location.
· Many MLS services and brokerages then have the option to auto-populate your listing to hundreds of other real estate sites such as Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. for even more reach.
· Advertise, market and hold open houses every weekend if needed.
· Host a Broker open house where your listing agent will invite other agents in the area to preview your home and get instant feedback for you.
· Coordinate showings with prospective buyers.
· Market your home through local mailings, social media, etc.
· Hang the for sale sign in your yard we mentioned earlier:)
· Refer you to other professionals you may need along the way, such as an attorney, mortgage broker, contractors, etc.
· Be able to explain the many different scenarios you may encounter, sales contingencies, attorney review, etc,
· Review and explain inspection reports and requests
· Communicate with you every step of the way
· Provide feedback from showings
(This list could be 10 pages long, but I think I hit the most important parts for now!)
How does your listing agent negotiate on your behalf?
Your agent works for you. They should want the best for you. Once you get an offer on your home, it's the listing agent's job to present it to you and advise. For instance, if you get an offer way below asking price, your initial reaction may be to refuse and get pissed off. But a listing agent might be able to negotiate with the buyers or buyers agent and bring that price up to a descent offer….or if the buyers truly can't budge much, find other ways to sweeten the deal like a faster closing date or waived contingencies. These compromises can actually save you tens of thousands of dollars in some cases. But at the end of the day, you can always hold out for a higher offer too. it's ultimately always your decision, your agent is your guide and confidant.
How do you choose a listing agent?
It has to be a good fit. It’s a team effort. If you're looking for a listing agent, you can usually find one a friend has used and loved, or ones to avoid too. Years of experience doesn’t always mean they are better than someone with fewer years under their belt.
Read their client reviews. If a client hated them, trust me, they aren’t taking the time to write them a review. Interview a few potential agents. You will get a gut a feeling about an agent just like you would with any other profession. Make sure it’s their full time job, they communicate well, answer their phone when you call or get back to you within a reasonable amount of time. Your agent should make you feel like you’re their priority no matter how many deals they are working on and be there for you to answer questions, guide you and inform you. You can always ask to speak with past clients too.
How much do listing agents get paid?
The reality is, your listing agent doesn’t receive a dime unless your home gets sold. Most agents pay for your marketing and advertising out of their own pockets. You don’t get a bill for those expenses at the end of the deal either. But- the seller always pays the agents commission when your home does sell. The typical agent commission is 6% of the price in which your home sells for which is then typically split between the listing agent and the buyer's agent. This price may seem substantial, but consider this, for every hour an agent spends with you in person, they will also be spending an enormous amount of time behind the scenes to ensure you have a smooth transaction. But seller beware, there are many “discount” agents as we like to call them, who are willing to cut their commission to a very low % just to “get” your listing. As with any profession, you get what you pay for!
PersonalPlug: If you're thinking of selling your home, Your Dream Home NJ would love to be interviewed for an opportunity to provide you with our personalized listing plan. xo