Tips & Advice

Two of the biggest mistakes home sellers make when choosing a listing agent are selecting an agent solely based on:

  1. Highest list price for your home
  2. Lowest commission

To a seller these are obviously the most important criteria. Because sellers want the highest possible price and to pay the least amount of commission. But those two criteria have very little to do with hiring a competent agent and, in many instances, are completely irrelevant.

The Highest Suggested List Price

Agents can't tell you how much your home will sell for. That's a fallacy. A listing agent can show you comparable sales, pending sales, and active sales. But YOU choose the sales price and a buyer will tell you if the price is right.

  • To get the listing, some agents distort the truth.

    Since agents can't guarantee your sales price, the listing agent who suggests the highest price is could be untruthful. Ask the agent to show you numbers supporting that suggested list price. They probably won't have them or the home sales will be located in a different neighborhood.

  • Look for a listing agent who gives you a range.

    There is always a price range. It might be apart $10,000 on the low-end versus the high, or the spread might be greater. Many factors determine the range, among which are location, the temperature of the market, and improvements.

  • Pricing is an art.

    The best time for an offer is within the first 30 days on market. If the home is priced right, you'll get an offer. If it's priced too high, you might not get any interest at all; buyers will shun your home and you'll eventually end up reducing the price, leaving buyers wondering what's wrong with your house.

Should You Choose an Agent Based on Commission?

Real estate agents are not equal; each is unique. Remember about 10% of the agents do roughly 90% of the business. Each has her own marketing techniques and advertising budget. By choosing an agent with a large advertising budget and company dollars to match it, you might gain greater exposure to the largest number of buyers, which is ideal.

Reaching greater numbers of buyers equals better chances of a good offer.

  • Why would an agent willingly work for less than competitors?

    There is always a reason why a real estate agent would discount commission. Sometimes it's the only way the agent feels it's possible to compete in a highly competitive business because the agent can't otherwise stand apart from the competition on service, knowledge or negotiation skills.

    If the sole benefit an agent brings to a table is a cheap fee, ask yourself why. Is the agent desperate for business or unqualified? Do you want to work with a desperate agent?

Sometimes real estate agents will negotiate a lower commission under special circumstances such as:

  • You're buying a home and selling a home at the same time, giving both transactions to one agent.
  • You're willing to do all the legwork, advertising, marketing, and pay for expenses related to the sale.
  • You promise to refer more business to the agent, which would result in multiple transactions.
  • You're selling more than one home.
  • You don't have enough equity to pay a full commission.
  • The agent accepts you as a pro bono case.
  • The agent will lose the listing unless she matches a competitor's fee.
  • The agent wants the signage (exposure to traffic) overcharging a full commission.

If you are interviewing agents who offer similar services and can't decide between them, ask to see a track record of each agent's original list price and final sale numbers. Odds are the lowest-fee agent will show more price reductions and longer DOM. The difference between an agent who charges 5% and 6% is 1%. Ask yourself how you come out ahead if your price ends up being reduced 2% because you chose a lower-fee agent who could not afford to actively market your home.


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