Thinking about selling your home? I highly recommend that you interview at least three real estate agents. Even if you have a “go-to” agent, for example, someone you have used in the past or an agent who comes recommended by someone you trust, it is still worth taking the time to meet with at least two additional agents. Selling a house is a big deal, and you should take the time to make sure you have selected the best agent for you.
When you contact an agent, expect them to initially come to take a look at the house. I would be wary of any agent who meets you for the first time and walks in with a market analysis and a proposed listing price. Every house is different, and until an agent gets inside and sees the layout, condition, upgrades, etc, they cannot really do a good job of determining a proper listing price for your home. Once the agent has toured your house, expect them to set up a second meeting, preferably with all homeowners/decision makers present.
To help you prepare for these meetings, I have put together a list of homework you should do prior to meeting with a listing agent…being prepared will help the agent provide you with a better market value assessment.
Tip #1: Make Sure Your Home is Clean and Picked Up
While it may seem that this is a no-brainer, it still bears mention. You want your home to look its absolute best. If you are going to be listing your home for sale, you should get used to keeping your home neat and picked up…you never know when a potential buyer will want to see it. While agents are better at seeing past dirt and clutter (they aren’t buying it and are more subjective than a potential buyer), they also know that a clean and picked up home is easier to sell, which will often result in a higher selling price. Take the time to make your home look its absolute best prior to your first agent visit.
Tip #2: Prepare a List of Upgrades and Major Repairs & Maintenance
Did you replace the roof last year? Did you upgrade your kitchen recently? While some things may be apparent (e.g. a kitchen upgrade), take some time prior to your agent visit to compile a list of work you have done on your home, and when you did it, to the best of your ability. Provide this list to the agent, which can assist them in properly valuing your home. Make the list as comprehensive as you can. While some expenditures may matter less than others, let the agent determine what is important. (As a side note, I recommend holding off on doing any significant upgrades or repairs before meeting with a listing agent…let them help you decide which expenditures, if any, make sense to do before listing.)
Tip #3: Understand Your Selling Time Frame
All agents are going to want to know whether you are looking to list immediately, sometime in the next few months, or maybe in the next year or two (it is never too early to meet with an agent!). The timing of when you want to get your home on the market can impact the listing price. It also gives the listing agent an idea of what your expectations of them are.
Tip #4: Beware of Disclosing Too Much Information
This actually might be one of the most important tips, and one that is rarely, if ever, discussed. Until you sign a listing agreement with an agent, they do not represent you. If you tell them you are divorcing and looking for a quick sale or that your neighbors are loud and obnoxious and you can’t get away from them fast enough…this could come back to haunt you later. Disclosing information to an agent, who you later do not hire, is information that they now own, and can share with a buyer that they may bring to your property later.
I have personal experience with this one…when interviewing agents the last time I sold my house, the potential listing agent presented me with a market analysis and price. I made the mistake of discussing that price with them, and giving them an idea of what I would be happy accepting…I did not hire that agent, and she later represented the couple who bought my house. She had information about what kind of price I would be happy with, and low and behold, that is where the buyer came in at (lower than asking price, of course). So beware…present the facts an agent needs in order to value your home, but don’t disclose everything until they are actually representing you in the form of a contract.
Tip #5: Have Some Idea What Your Home May Be Worth
This is not meant to put the burden of valuing your home on you. You are relying on the agent to be the expert, and despite the wealth of information now available about home prices, the agent will still have more accurate and complete information about listing and selling prices, in addition to experience in selling homes. That being said, take some time to look at realtor.com (the most accurate site out there) and see what is currently on the market in your area and at what price. Look for homes that have similar bedroom and bathroom counts, square footage and features. This will allow you to ask better questions when the agent comes back with his or her market analysis. It will also prepare you in case the agent comes back with a price that seems unusually high. While sometimes an agent is trying to get a listing by coming in with the highest list price, generally that is not the case. But by doing some homework in advance, if an agent’s proposed listing price is higher (or lower) than what you are expecting, you will be better prepared to ask questions and understand their rationale.
These are my tips for preparing yourself to meet with a potential listing agent. In an upcoming post, I will discuss what you should expect a listing agent to cover with you in their second meeting with you. [If you would like to be alerted when these posts, and others, are available, please fill out the box below with your email information.]
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