Real estate agents will tell you, and rightly so, that selling a home is the biggest dollar transaction in which most people will ever engage. And yet few home sellers take the time to find the best real estate agent to sell their home. Studies show that a majority of home sellers list their home with the first agent with which they speak, which is usually a referral. Those are the two biggest mistakes you can make when choosing a listing agent: limit yourself to only referrals and then do not even bother to interview them to see if they are a good fit for you. Never forget, you are entering into a business partnership in which you will spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Your choice of agent is critical.
I think the reason most sellers do not interview agents is because they do not know how to do it. So, here are four secrets to interviewing agents (that you will never hear from them).
1. Do not conduct the interview at your home. Find a neutral location near your home (I suggest Starbucks). Once a real estate agent gets inside your home it can be difficult to “reject” them. They have no reason to leave and you may have difficulty asking them to leave. At a neutral location, nobody has to ask anybody to leave.
2. Do not have the agent bring a CMA to the interview. Most real estate agents like to bring a CMA (competitive market analysis) to their listing appointment. These help the seller determine a suitable listing price for the home. But having an agent bring one to the interview is a bad idea for several reasons. First of all, it will make you feel a sense of obligation toward them since they have already done some work for you. Second, the agent can bring a CMA with an inflated home price, which could distort your selection decision. And finally, since you have not chosen the agent yet, there is no need for them to work for free.
3. Have a list of ready made questions. You should have a few standard questions to ask every agent you interview. The answers from any one agent are useful, but what is really useful is asking the same questions to multiple agents. Comparing their answers is where the real education takes place. You simply cannot make an informed real estate agent choice by interviewing just one agent.
4. Understand your objective. The objective of interviewing agents is simple: you want to find one whose answers make you feel comfortable. If you interview at least three agents, I assure you that you will one whose answers make you feel more comfortable than the others. Their answers will make sense with you. And their demeanor will resonate with you. And you will have no doubt about which one to choose.
When you are done, thank the agent for their time and give them a commitment when you will let them know of your decision. And you should get back to each agent, whether you chose them or not. And if you really want to be helpful to the agents you did not choose, make it worth their time by telling them, in a kind way, why you did not choose them, so they can improve in that area.
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