When you’re ready to sell your house, finding the right realtor can make a big difference in how successful and comfortable you are with the sales process. Interviewing several candidates is the first step to understanding what to expect both from a real estate agent and the current market.
The best place to find potential realtors is to ask neighbours, friends, family and colleagues for references. “Ask them if they’ve had a good experience with a realtor,” says Barb Sukkau, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association.
The names of real estate agents on ‘For Sale’ signs in your neighbourhood and local real estate offices are other sources of potential candidates. After all, one of the most important things to look for in a realtor is experience selling homes in your area, advises Diane Scott, a director of the Alberta Real Estate Association.
Interview two or three agents, asking how long each has been in the business. Keep in mind that both freshly-licensed realtors and seasoned professionals have something unique to offer – enthusiasm and up-to-date training versus practical experience, for instance.
Here’s a list of helpful do’s and don’ts:
- Ask about their marketing plan. “What sort of advertising will they do?” says Sukkau. “Do they hold open houses and if so how often? Everyone has a different model. Some consumers are totally engaged in social media and may want to hire a realtor who does heavy marketing with social media.”
- Inquire about a candidate’s knowledge about your kind of property and community. Marketing a hobby farm in a rural community is hugely different than a downtown condominium. “The knowledge base of that realtor will make a difference to your satisfaction,” says Scott.
- Be shy to ask about the number of listings they carry. “I think a busy realtor is probably a good realtor,” says Sukkau.
- Be seduced by the realtor suggesting the highest listing price for your house. “Unfortunately, that can be an angle for some realtors trying to get listings but that only leads to disappointment in the end,” says Sukkau. “It’s better to learn about the services they offer and choose the best fit.”
Scott agrees. “A good realtor will conduct a comparative market analysis for your particular area, giving you a good idea of what your listing price should be,” she says. If the homeowner and realtor don’t agree, it may not be a good fit.
Finally, ask if the realtor can provide references and take time to check. In the end, the realtor you select should be knowledgeable, approachable, trustworthy and willing to fulfill your needs as a seller.
5 questions to ask potential realtors
The following are among the questions the Canadian Real Estate Association recommends asking potential realtors:
- What is your average list-to-sales-price ratio? A listing realtor should hold a track record for negotiating sales prices very close to list prices.
- What separates you from your competition? Key phrases to listen for: assertive, available by phone or e-mail, analytical, able to maintain a good sense of humour under trying circumstances.
- May I review documents I’ll be asked to sign? A good realtor makes forms available to you before you’re required to sign them. Ask to see agency disclosure, listing agreement and seller disclosure.
- How much do you charge? Real estate fees or commission are negotiable and may vary from broker to broker. Ensure you negotiate your best deal with your realtor.
- What if I’m unhappy with the service? If you sign a listing agreement with the realtor and later discover you’re unhappy with the arrangement, can you cancel the agreement?