Dear Angie: How can I select a good Realtor? I am in the process of getting my home ready to sell and need guidance on how to select an honest and reliable real estate agent and real estate company. What questions should I ask? — Frank K., Arlington, Texas
Answer: Selling a home, especially in this market, can be a big task for any homeowner. With so many small details, who you hire as your real estate agent can really affect how much it sells for and how quickly it sells.
You definitely want to look at experienced agents with proven histories of sales in your area. It's in challenging times such as these that experience can really shine through.
Ask for references and talk to former clients whose homes they've sold to get information on how the process went.
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Once you've narrowed down your choices, interview prospective agents as you would any candidate for a job as important as this one. Ask:
■ How long they've been in the business and whether they work full- or part-time.
■ How many homes they've sold this year and how many they sold last year.
■ The average number of days those homes were on the market.
■ The average difference between the initial asking price and the selling price.
■ Their experience with selling in your area.
■ Their professional designations.
■ If they have a Web site.
■ How they will market your home.
■ How frequently they will communicate with you during the process.
A good agent should create a marketing plan specifically for your home. The agent needs to do more than just list the home online. He or she needs to get creative to really make your home stand above the rest. The value of online photos and videos, for example, cannot be understated. He or she also should be able to make recommendations on how to stage the home in a way to sell it quickly and maximize its value. Get a copy of the agent's marketing plan, review it, make suggestions if appropriate, and hold your agent to it.
Finally, your agent should be in contact with you frequently and keep you updated on your home and other homes for sale in your area. As competitive as the housing market is, agents should be working hard and pulling out all the stops for their clients. If you decide yours isn't doing enough, find another agent who will.