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Is It Time to Break Up with Your House?

It was love at first sight, but circumstances have changed and you’ve outgrown the house that was a perfect fit just a few years ago. Maybe you need space for additional family members. Maybe you crave more land and fewer neighbors. Perhaps the maintenance on a 2-story, 2,400-square-foot home is too much. It could be time to move closer to family. Maybe you landed a new job and need to relocate, or are working remotely and need a dedicated home office. Whatever the reason, if now is the right time for you to sell, Realtor.com offers some suggestions for finding the right real estate agent for you, because just like houses, agents are not one-size-fits-all.

Gather referrals - There are a lot of real estate agents out there. So how do you choose? Ask your friends and acquaintances for referrals, but don’t pick an agent purely because of rave reviews. The old mantra of location, location, location applies to real estate agents as much as homes. You want an agent who is very familiar with your area, says Wendy Flynn, a real estate agent in College Station, TX. The reason is simple: If they’ve spent time in the area, they’ll know how to market your house there.

Test their communication skills - Once you have some potential candidates, email them or call their office, then sit back and wait. This is your first test of a key component: How responsive will your agent be? Ideally, she should get back to you that same day.

Questions to ask a real estate agent - Your initial conversation with a prospective listing agent should be like any job interview: Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions right off the bat. A good agent should know his stats, and any dancing around these numbers could mean he’s hiding something. You should ask the following:

  • How long have you been in business? Aim for agents with at least two years of experience, enough time to learn the ropes and finesse their marketing and selling plans. 

  • How many houses did you sell last year? Look for agents with double-digit sales. 

  • What percentage of your listings do you sell? Ideally you want an agent who has sold an average of 60% to 80%.

  • What is the average list price to actual sales price ratio for your listings? This can fluctuate by market, but you should still look for high numbers. “I would set a low bar of 95% to be acceptable for even the worst market conditions,” advises Chandler, a realtor in Fort Worth, TX.  

Everyone knows that to sell a house quickly, you need to reach as many eyeballs as you can. And the way to suss out an agent’s ability to do that is to ask these questions:

  • How will you market my home? An agent should use at least a good brokerage website to showcase your listing and national listing portals such as Realtor.com®.

  • How will you use social media? They should use at least Facebook and Twitter to market listings.

  • What offline materials do you use? While most marketing is done online now, your agent should still make use of tried-and-true methods.

Finally, don’t assume the most inexpensive agent is the one for you. When you’re talking terms, Crouch recommends asking agents if they’ll work on a discount. If they jump at the chance early on in the conversation, that might be a red flag. “Think about this: If the agent can’t even negotiate to protect their own money, how likely do you think it will be for them to go to bat to protect your money?” Crouch asks. “It’ll be a test of confidence in their own services at least.”

Visit the Century 21 Farm & Forest website and see if one of our 26 agents is the right one for you.

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