How Real Estate Agents Should Best Represent Home Sellers
As a real estate agent, you have an obligation to your clients to do everything you can to smooth the process of selling their home. You are their advocate, the professional they are turning to for help. Most people want an agent they can not only trust but will do all they can to get the most money for their home in the least amount of time with the fewest headaches along the way.
Because some home sellers know so little about the sales process, it is easy enough to do the bare minimum and get by as an agent, but you will never build your business by doing the least possible. When you do your best – cover all the bases of a smart sales process – you will gain a reputation for great work, and enjoy the referrals that come along with that reputation.
Smart home sellers understand there is a big difference from so many of the “post and pray” real estate agents that do not much more than put a sign in the yard, place it in the MLS and pray. Sellers deserve a lot more than this.
Many in the real estate industry feel there is room for a good clean up – this Hopkinton real estate agent is one of them! It is far too easy to get a real estate license. The barriers to entering the industry are far too small when you consider a real estate agent is typically handling someone’s largest asset.
Home sellers reading this article should understand that like every other industry, there are those who are exceptional and others not so much. Most businesses have an 80/20 rule where 80 percent of the business is done by 20 percent of the people. The real estate industry is skewed much greater than that. In fact, you might be amazed to know that 93% of all real estate transactions are completed by 7% of the members. That is staggering!
What this means is one thing – there is a lot of room for disappointment by picking the wrong real estate agent to represent your interests. When selling a home, it is very easy to choose a wrong agent, after all, the odds are stacked against you. Understanding how to pick a real estate agent is something many sellers get all wrong.
How can you increase the chances you will make the right choice in picking a real estate agent? This is an easy question to answer. You need to understand what things real estate agents should be doing for home sellers! When all of these tasks are completed in the correct manner the likelihood, you will be a happy camper will increase exponentially.
Your job now is finding that agent. By understanding the most important tasks, a Realtor should be doing you will be better equipped to make a smart decision.
1. Price The Home Correctly.
Pricing a home properly is bar none the most important thing you can do as a Realtor. Exceptional Real Estate agents avoid giving in to the desire to say what will make sellers happy just to attract business. Top notch Real Estate agents will price each home using their training, understanding of the market and comparable sales.
Understanding how to price a home is one of an agent’s most valuable skills. Smart sellers should be looking for agents who sell homes for close to the original listing price. The best Real Estate agents have a reputation for pricing homes accurately and not telling a seller what they want to hear to get a listing. This is one of the lowest things a Real Estate agent can do and violates the code of ethics we are supposed to follow.
As a seller, you should be aware that pricing a home too high can cause major issues in the sale. Buyers may avoid it, and if they avoid the home long enough, it will develop a bad reputation. Eventually, you will be forced to drop the price to be competitive in the marketplace, but by that point, the bad rep will have stuck.
Even with a competitive price, buyers will be likely to low-ball you after a period of time. Ultimately you may sell the house for less than what you would have if you had priced it correctly, to begin with. The seller loses out, and the agent’s reputation suffers.
While some agents will intentionally misrepresent a home’s value to get business, others lack the skill to price a home correctly. The perfect example is the Realtor who takes shortcuts and uses things like price per square foot to determine value. Unless you want your home priced wrong, don’t ever listen to a price per square foot of being an accurate way of pricing a property. The only way this indicator is useful is if all the homes in your neighborhood are identical. Rarely is this ever the case.
2. Market The Heck Out of The Property.
Marketing is one area where your Real Estate agent should shine. Your agent should be taking great pictures of the property – hiring a professional photographer if necessary. The photography on your home is absolutely one of essential elements in selling homes today. I can tell you first hand how appalling it can be seeing some of the photos real estate agents post of their client’s homes. What is probably even worse is the sellers who never bother to look!
The internet will be where home buyers discover your home. If your homes pictures are lousy, you will lose out on a significant amount of traffic.
Your Real Estate agent should be well versed on how to get the word out using all available marketing channels, not just the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Ideally, your Realtor should have a website that draws traffic and showcases all their properties for sale. They should also be using social media, like Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and other platforms, to spread the word. All of these online options take some time for an agent to develop, but will ultimately strengthen their business and help their client’s homes get sold.
The Real Estate agents marketing material should be top-notch, from photographs to videos to the brochures used to market the home. Investing in a quality Real Estate agent who understands how crucial the marketing is will reap substantial benefits.
3. Communicate Properly.
A seller needs to know what is going on with the sale of their home. Too many Real Estate agents get a client and then only check back in when they get an offer. Real Estate agents should regularly update their customers on the feedback from showings and about anything else that may concern them. Even if there are no offers, keeping in touch lets a seller know that you are doing something – and worth paying for.
Often surveys are done, and the #1 complaint from consumers with towards real estate agents is a lack of proper communication. Real Estate agents who don’t communicate get bad reputations among their peers and their clients. There are some clues as a home seller you can observe before you hire an agent that will give you a pretty good indication of how things will be moving forward. Do they return your calls or emails promptly? In my mind, all phone calls or emails should be returned within an hour unless you are already with another client. There is no excuse for poor communication. Staying in touch is something all sellers have a right to expect from their Realtor.
4. Make Sure The Buyer is Qualified.
Anybody can say they are interested in buying a house. Not everyone can get pre-approval for a home loan, though. A good listing agent will make sure that buyers are pre-approved – not just pre-qualified. There is a big difference between mortgage pre-qualification and pre-approval. Pre-qualification does not include an analysis of the buyer’s credit report, verify income, or employment, which will be key factors in whether they can get a mortgage.
A pre-qualification in most instances is not worth the paper it is written on. You want buyers who have already submitted all information, including a credit report, and been given the go-ahead for a loan. As long as nothing changes with their financial situation or their credit, they should be able to get approval and buy your client’s home.
5. Negotiate The Best Terms.
The best agents will go out of their way to fight hard for the best terms and conditions for their clients. This, after all, is what they are paid to do. A great Real Estate agent will never think about their pocket book but what makes the most sense for their client. This is one of the reasons why you should never choose and an agent that “needs” to make a sale. When you hire an agent who isn’t worried about when their next sale takes place, you will get much better advice.
Real Estate agents who advocate for their clients are always striving for the best possible terms for the transaction. Everything in Real Estate contracts is negotiable, good agents when warranted don’t hesitate to counteroffer with a price that is more favorable to their client. They have the negotiation skills necessary to get the job done right.
If a client wants adjustments to contingency dates or closing times, these should be negotiated appropriately. A good agent will understand the real value of each element to the customer. Pushing to get clients everything they possibly can is what the best of the best do on a regular basis.
6. Attend The Home Inspection to Represent The Seller.
A seller client may or may not expect a Real Estate to attend the home inspection, but they should do it regardless. By being there for the inspection, the agent gets to hear all the feedback from the inspector first-hand. So when I am asked if a listing agent should attend the home inspection, the answer is a resounding yes!
Your agent can keep track of everything that is said and keep things in perspective should the buyer ask for concessions based on the inspection. Some requests may be reasonable. Others may not. When a sellers agent is there and can see everything in person, they can protect a seller from unreasonable requests.
Here is the perfect example: A home inspector says during the inspection that the roof has 3 to 5 years left before it needs to be replaced. The translation after a home inspection from the buyer to the seller is that a new roof is needed immediately. Sometimes what the home inspector says and what is written in his report are two different things.
When the listing agent is present, they can see and hear first hand what exactly the issues are. Some buyers will exaggerate everything in the hopes of getting a closing cost concession or the seller making repairs. Home inspections often become the second place of negotiations.
Don’t be misled by the real estate agent who tells you that they shouldn’t go because “it creates too much liability.” That is complete nonsense! The only thing that creates liability at a home inspection is what you say and do as an agent, NOT your attendance there. Agents create their liability by speaking out of turn. A Realtor should not be attending a home inspection to be a 2nd inspector but to observe and listen. That’s it! It is the real estate agent that thinks they are a know it all who end up getting sued and losing.
7. Attend The Home Appraisal.
A good real estate agent will attend the home appraisal, so they can answer the questions the appraiser has and make sure they understand the facts about the home. Appraisers may need feedback from someone who knows the house to do their job. Your Real Estate agent should be there to help clarify any confusion. In many instances, your Realtor will be the best qualified to answer an appraiser’s questions.
For example, the appraiser could be looking for all the recent updates, among other things, that have been made in the home. Major updates are certainly something that can influence the value of your home. This something the agent should be there to point out. Updates are the kind of thing that can have a significant bearing on the outcome of the appraisal.
8. Finalize Loose Ends For Closing.
Selling a house involves a lot of work. There are so many little details that must be taken care of, which is one of the big selling points for your services. As the closing draws near, you will need to take care of all the loose ends for your client. Taking care of the smoke & carbon monoxide detector certificate, final water/sewer readings and any other issues is part of the package you offer – or at least it should be. The less work, your client, has to do, the more appealing you are as an agent.
Selling a home can be very stressful, but when you have a top shelf agent in your corner who is taking care of the little details, the burden can be eased just a bit. Hopefully, you now understand the things to expect from your real estate agent when selling a home!
In summary, the traits you should be looking for in a real estate agent consist of these attributes:
- Honesty above all else. The Realtor should put YOUR needs before their own.
- Professionalism. From the dress to manners, the agent you hire is the extension of yourself to everyone they encounter in the home sale journey.
- Excellent communication skills – does the agent stay in touch with their clients?
- Strong negotiator – You want a tiger, not a pussy cat.
- Creative marketer – remember you are not looking for the agent that does the bare minimum. Is there a comprehensive marketing plan?
- Exceptional company and personal reputation – is the agent and the firm they work for looked up to as leaders?
- Experience and proven results – does the agent possess the knowledge and expertise to guide you in unforeseen circumstances? Do they sell in all types of markets? Are they successful in all kinds of markets and not just when homes are selling like hotcakes?
• By Bill Gassett, www.maxrealestateexposure.com