What is the difference between a good agent and an agent that just wants to get the listing? I learned early on your word is your bond and your reputation precedes you. I think the four most important words I learned working in real estate is “do the right thing” and not for yourself but for your client as well as for your colleagues.
So wh…at in the world am I talking about? Many agents having a strong need and desire to get listings will at times tell potential sellers what they know they want to hear. Meaning in some cases they may over-inflate the value of the target listing in-spite of comparable sales to the contrary. They may neglect to point out issues or even represent that they have a cash buyer for your home.
So what happens in a case like that? Case in point: A potential seller interviews three Realtors. Each one is working with the same comps from the same MLS. All three should come to a close estimate.
Who would you choose? In most cases the seller will choose the Realtor who promises the most. Why not? Right? That is exactly what some unscrupulous Realtors bank on. In one word…greed.
Well here is where I think it is important to weigh all opinions and perhaps use the following points as a guide line:
1. MLS comparable sales for the previous year are the same for every agent. After discounting homes with inferior/superior attributes everyone should come to a reasonable average list price for the target home. Large swings in listing prices higher or lower suggest something is amiss. A price well over an average price suggests the agent may be looking to lure in a potential seller with fantasies of a large pay day.
A much lower target listing price suggests that the agent may be looking to take advantage of the seller by placing a lower listing price hoping to insure a quick sale and a quick commission.
Both tactics are bad and both agents are lacking in integrity and violating the first rule of agency – the client comes first!
2. A good agent is going to go through your home and look at it as a potential buyer would look at it. We are professionals and know what the buying public is looking for. The listing agent will get feedback from buyers’ agents about the home. It is better to prepare sellers for the possible remarks and criticisms they will get as feedback before they get an unpleasant surprise. Everyone thinks their home is the Taj Mahal. Some are close, some not so close. A good agent will make suggestions; point out areas where buyers will have an issue which will be used to negotiate a lower price. The object is to be honest, help the seller get ready to stage the house and then to accentuate the positive aspects of the home as it is presented to the buying public.
3. Trust is essential. Choose an agent you trust. Don’t discount new agents because they have the eye of the tiger and fire in the belly. They most likely will work the hardest to market your home and keep you updated as to what potential buyers are saying and how they are marketing your home. They need to prove themselves to you and to their supervising broker. Big names may mean you will be number 302 on their client list. Agents with a smaller client base will naturally give you more attention.
4. You are your best resource. Look at popular real estate web sites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. Look for recently closed properties very similar to yours. Discount short sales and distress sales, add em up and average it out. If you and the realtor come up with around the same value go with that Realtor. Yes you can list it higher than the comps but beware for the principal of substitution mentioned in my last post.
Happy house hunting.