8 Mistakes Sellers Make When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Selling a home is a simple enough process. Yet, novice and sometimes even veteran sellers; lose out on money owing to rash emotional decisions or impulsive oversights. To avoid such errors, it’s prudent to hire a real estate agent with enough field knowledge to be able to market and sell your house seamlessly.

“I’ll hire the agent with the lowest commission.”

Being thrifty can help you save money, but only some of the times. When you want someone to go that extra mile to sell your house, you must be willing to pay a little extra as well. Paying less may lead to a simple sign board being posted outside your door, by way of marketing. Your home may get a placement in the property classified portals; but that’s about all you’ll ever get.

Agents and real estate companies invest their own money for advertising and marketing of your home. The process can be quite expensive. So if the agent only has a small commission to look forward to, the incentive to truly ‘sell’ your home is much lesser as well.

Incentive is a very big part of sales. A ‘full services’ agent who’s paid a high commission, will be more likely to neglect other things in order to handle any challenges that accompany the sale of your house. A smaller commission is unlikely to buy that much effort.

Incentive is equally important to the buyer’s agent. Given that there are always two agents involved in a single sale; the commission is divided between the two according to the listing agent’s instructions. The two agents here refer to your listing agent and the buyer’s agent. And so you must consider whether the commission to be paid to the buyer’s agent will be reduced alongside the lowered commission of your own listing agent. In such a situation it may become difficult to find agents to show your home. Naturally, they’ll choose to show houses that offer customary commission to the buyer’s agent.

Lastly, your real estate agent should have proven negotiating skills. After all, will you be able to place unwavering trust in an agent who can’t even negotiate his/her own commission?

“I’ll hire the agent who agrees with my sale price.”

There are many agents who’ll agree with your views, just to appear accommodating. This ‘buying a listing’ technique may not help your sale, but will probably be very fruitful for the agent trying to land your account. The ‘short term sale tactic’ may help you get a listing initially. However, it’s unlikely to be of much help when it comes to selling your house at the highest possible price.

An agent typically takes more interest in a home that’s listed under the ‘new’ category. And if the price is reasonable enough, they’d be happy to show it to their buyers. If you quote a high price, you miss out on the chance to make an early sale. By the time you realize the error and lower your price, your listing will probably become ‘old’ and fail to garner much interest. Alternatively, buyers may take the price drop to signal a distress sale and offer accordingly. All this could lower your asking price considerably, and in the end, you may just have to settle for an amount that’s much below what you would have received had the house been listed appropriately.

Furthermore, homes that are similar to your own would also look more appealing when the price tags are compared.

“I’ll hire my friend/family member to sell my house.”

Friendship isn’t always enough to establish an agent’s credentials. So don’t just hire someone within your friends or family circle because you’re familiar with that person. To select a good agent, keep to the high standards you adhere by when choosing a doctor, lawyer, accountant or other professional. A true friend will understand that it is a business decision and may even offer his/her credentials to compete for the listing. Finally, ask yourself whether you would really risk damaging your bond over a rift about
a challenge or problem with the house sale?

“Your presentation sound great, I’ll hire you right now.”

Check out multiple presentations and weigh the pros and cons of each before making your decision. Getting caught up in the moment or deciding on an impulse, may not stand you in good stead later. Most contracts require you to list your property with a specific agent for a fixed period of time. So if you’re unhappy with the services, it may not be possible to switch to someone else immediately.

“I can choose the best agent without any references.”

As insightful as you may be, rely on the agent’s past track record to make your final decision. Getting references is the only way to decide whether an agent is as good as he/she says. Ask for references of recent sales and also references of recent customers. Get in touch with the clients to find out about how they rate their experience with this agent.

While important; the number of years an agent has spent in the field, has a very small part to play when it comes to efficiency. Experienced agents are more likely to be jaded and may not work as hard to secure a sale. Newer agents however, often make up for their inexperience with an appropriate amount of exuberance and drive.

“Realtors pass the same test and therefore, they know the same things.”

The real estate world is forever changing and so, a real estate agent must continue to change and grow with these shifts in order to keep up. Dedicated professionals will take up new challenges by continuing their education and always, trying to go beyond what’s given. They may also acquire ‘professional designations’ as proof of having taken specialised courses.

“I’ll pick an agent in my neighborhood.”

An agent, who lives in your neighborhood doesn’t necessarily know more about the local markets than the one who doesn’t. Relevant information about schools, businesses, models and recent sales can all be ferreted out through extensive research. Therefore, don’t let convenience become your number one criteria for choosing a real estate professional.

“I’ll choose the agent who outsold everyone else last year.”

It’s a starting point, but it certainly isn’t the whole picture. Consider whether you would prefer to go with an agent who’s sold 25 homes out of 40, or an agent who’s sold 12 of the 12 homes he had listed. So if you’re interviewing the top seller from last year, remember to ask pertinent questions such as ‘how many of their listings didn’t sell?’; ‘how many had their prices reduced’; ‘ for how long were the homes on sale’; and ‘how smoothly was the deal handled’. Another very important question is the accessibility of the agent during hiccups or challenges pertaining to the sale.

In other words, quantity although is important but should always be less of a priority than quality.

So, for a smooth sale, choose an agent who’ll be most effective at marketing your home, negotiating the price favourably, and communicating with sellers with appropriate clarity.

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