Selling a home is a major undertaking. Even in a seller's market like the one that Boston is currently experiencing, you really need to have your ducks in a row to ensure that you get top dollar for your home--and to ensure that the sale goes smoothly. One of the most important factors that will determine how hard or easy things will be is the seller's agent, or listing agent, that you work with. Boston City Properties can put you in touch with an experienced and talented seller's agent in your area. In the meantime, here are some tips for finding the right seller's agent:
- Check Their Current Listings - One of the first things that you should do after being referred to a listing agent is to visit their website to look at their current listings. First, does it look like the agent has plenty of work? That's a positive sign. Second, how are the listings themselves? Does it look like someone put some effort into them, or do they only have the basics? Remember, you will get the same treatment, so make sure to choose wisely.
- Ask for Credentials - Ask prospective seller's agents for proof of their expertise. At the very least, they should hold the necessary licenses for their state. Contact your state board to check on the status of an agent's license and to see if any complaints have been filed against them or if any disciplinary actions have been made against them. Ask if they hold any special endorsements too. CRS, or certified residential specialist, is a good one to look for.
- Get Referrals - Have the listing agent give you contact information for a handful of recent clients who they have assisted. If possible, get referrals for people who sold homes that are similar to yours in terms of size, age, location and other crucial variables. Ask former clients how long their homes sat on the market. What was the listing price? What was the sales price? Would the client hire the agent again? This information should be very telling, so pay attention.
- Choose a Good Communicator - Nothing is worse than being left in the dark regarding the sale of a home. For all that you know, your listing agent isn't doing anything at all. While interviewing past clients, ask about the agent's communication style. Are they easy to get a hold of? Do they reply to messages and emails promptly? Do they make a point of touching base regularly to ensure that clients are kept in the loop? This extra legwork will pay off later when you have an agent who is truly in your corner.
- Ask About Their Marketing Style - Selling a home is all about marketing it effectively. The best listing agents move heaven and earth to get exposure for clients' homes. Have prospective seller's agents fill you in about how they engage in marketing. Ideally, they should have professional signage, and they should rely on a mix of online and "old-fashioned" marketing techniques, including everything from social media to email to direct mail. Ask how many open houses they will hold--ideally, they should hold at least two. Make sure that your home will get MLS exposure, and ask what kinds of staging advice the agent can provide.
- Hire Someone with at Least Five Years of Experience - Yes, it would be nice to help the "new guy." However, a lot is at stake when selling a home. It pays to stick with listing agents who have at least five years of experience. That way, they should have decent connections around the local industry, which means that they can more easily connect you with buyers who would truly be interested in your home.
- Choose an Aggressive Negotiator - Even in a seller's market, it is crucial to hire a listing agent who will go to bat for you during negotiations. Buyers understandably try to get as much as they can, and a skilled agent will be able to deflect many of these requests to ensure that you get the best value for your home. While interviewing past clients, ask about how the agent performed during negotiations. Were they pleased, or did the agent drop the ball?
- Select Someone with Integrity - If you get the impression that a prospective seller's agent will engage in underhanded tactics to get the best price for a home, run away--don't walk. Such agents often land clients in hot water, and they tend to have bad reputations in the industry. Other agents tend to steer clear of seller's agents who are known to use back-handed techniques, so take extra care not to inadvertently work with someone who falls into that category.
- Ask About Awards - The best listing agents are recognized by their peers and industry. Chances are that if a prospective agent has received awards, they will be quite vocal about them. Still, always ask if they have any. It can be quite telling to learn what an agent has been recognized for during their career, and it is reassuring to know that you are working for someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
You don't have to search for a great seller's agent all by yourself. Boston City Properties has connections with experienced and talented listing agents in all cities and towns across Massachusetts as well as all neighborhoods in Boston. Regardless of where your home is located, we can help you find a listing agent who knows the area well and who can get you the best price for it. At any point, if you need additional help or information, our team is here to help. We look forward to assisting you, so contact Boston City Properties today.
Tips for Choosing a Seller’s Agent
If you need to sell a home in greater Boston or elsewhere in Massachusetts, you’re going to want to line up a dependable and proven seller’s agent to assist you. Whether you’re selling in a white-hot market, like what you’ll find in the Seaport, Back Bay and other Boston neighborhoods, or if you’re elsewhere in the Bay State, it pays to arm yourself with the right resources and help. Boston City Properties is here to provide all of that and more.
Most real estate agents specialize in selling homes, but dedicated buyer’s agents exist. When selling a home, make sure to line up someone whose primary or sole focus is listing homes for sale on the market. Of course, choosing someone for that reason alone isn’t wise. To find the right seller’s agent, a bit of work is needed. Read on to learn what to look for and other considerations to make when searching for a seller’s agent.
Even though seller’s markets reign supreme throughout much of the state these days, you can’t hope to sell yours quickly and for a good price without serious help. Unless you are truly well-versed regarding the local market, have extensive local connections and are a licensed real estate agent yourself, you’re going to need to team up with a skilled seller’s agent. Boston City Properties can refer you to one when you’re ready, but here are some additional tips to help you choose the right one:
- Be patient – Regardless of the particulars of your situation, remember that it takes time to find the right seller’s agent. It’s normal to feel rushed when dealing with real estate transactions, but don’t rush the process of selecting an agent to represent you. They will be your biggest advocate, and the quality of their work can make or break your home-selling experience.
- Get referrals – Getting referrals from friends and relatives is a great first step toward finding a suitable seller’s agent. Of course, this only works if you can get referrals to seller’s agents who cover the area where you are looking. Boston City Properties has connections with real estate agents across all Boston neighborhoods and MA cities and towns, and we can give you a referral whenever you are ready.
- Prepare a list of questions – Write up a list of at least 10 questions to pose to prospective seller’s agents. In addition to basic ones about their credentials and experience, ask them questions that specifically pertain to your situation. Ask each prospective agent the same questions so that you can compare and contrast the results more effectively.
- Interview multiple seller’s agents – Even if you find yourself leaning heavily toward one candidate, take time to interview several of them before making a decision. At the very least, you should interview three local seller’s agents; aiming for closer to six or seven is even better. You will be surprised by the ways in which their answers vary.
- Ask if they work with a team – There is nothing wrong, per se, with real estate agents who work on their own. However, there’s a lot to be said for agents who are part of a larger real estate team. They typically have access to a wider array of resources, and they tend to be better about responsiveness and availability. At the same time, a mediocre agent may hide behind the strength of a team, so you should still perform your due diligence.
- Look for experience – It’s nice to give the new guy a chance, but now is not the time for that. Local real estate markets are so competitive that it’s essential to have someone by your side who possesses many years of experience in the industry. Look for a seller’s agent who has been at it for at least four years; someone who has 10 or more years of experience is an even safer bet.
- Find out how quickly they sell houses – Before interviewing a single seller’s agent, find out the current average days on market for homes in the submarket where you are looking. Ask each candidate how long it takes, on average, for them to sell a home after getting the listing. If it’s not largely in line with the average for the local market—or better—you should probably move on to greener pastures.
- Choose an agent with local knowledge – Local knowledge is a crucial characteristic of any effective seller’s agent. Without it, they will struggle to point clients toward homes that suit their needs—including yours. Ideally, choose an agent who has lived in the local area for some time. While interviewing them, ask questions to gauge how familiar they truly are with the community to ensure that you have a capable representative by your side.
- Verify credentials – Ensure that you will be represented by a proven professional by checking the status of their real estate license and other credentials. Make sure that no disciplinary actions have been filed against the individual to avoid major problems. Find out if they hold certifications from the National Association of Realtors or other industry organizations, and ask about any awards or other recognition that they may have received.
- Ask about the contract – Seller’s agents typically sign contracts with sellers to guarantee their business. Be wary of any seller’s agent who tries to get you to commit to a lengthy contract, and make sure that you can get out of it without facing any penalties if necessary. Either way, the contract alone is reason enough to take your time and find the right agent.
- Find out about their sales record – If you’re trying to sell your home, you should obviously choose a seller’s agent who excels at selling homes. Without looking into it, you could end up with someone who has sold maybe a handful of properties over the last year, which isn’t reassuring. If at all possible, choose an agent who has sold at least 30 to 40 homes over the last 12 months; if you’re dealing with a small market, a lower figure should be okay.
- Ask each agent how they will sell your home – During interviews, put each seller’s agent on the spot by asking them the strategy that they will employ to sell your house. Without knowing specifics about your situation, they will only be able to give you a rough idea. Still, they shouldn’t balk at the question but should be able to answer quickly and capably. At the same time, be wary of any agent who makes big, sweeping promises about what they can do.
- Get information about commission and pay – Sellers often gloss over the part about how their agent will be compensated for their time. Given that a chunk of the proceeds from the sale of your home will go to them, it pays to know how much you’ll be parting with. As you shop around, you will find that commission rates vary quite a lot—and that some agents are more flexible than others.
- Check each agent’s list-to-sale ratio – In addition to helping you to sell your home quickly, the right seller’s agent will do what it takes to get you the most value for your property. A great way to understand an agent’s prowess in this department is by considering their list-to-sale ratio, which reflects the average difference between the list price and sale price of homes that the agent has listed in the past. Stick with agents with list-to-sale ratios of 100 percent or higher for best results.
- Learn about their marketing tools – In the digital age, it’s crucial to work with a seller’s agent who is on top of the latest developments in online marketing. Your agent shouldn’t just rely on the computer to make sales, though. Ideally, they should employ a mix of traditional and digital solutions. The right seller’s agent will rely on many methods to sell your home, including exposure to the MLS; virtual tours; lots of large photos; flexible showings; staging help and advice and a minimum of two open houses.
- Ask about their community connections – Successful real estate agents are adept at networking and forging strong connections throughout the local community. With this in mind, stick with agents who have demonstrable connections to the local community. These may include memberships in local industry organizations; participation in local charity events; volunteering for community outreach programs and even being on the city council.
- Ask for a suggested list price for your home – Another great way to gauge a seller’s agent’s overall abilities is by asking them to give you a suggested list price for your home before hiring them. The caveat here, of course, is that they won’t have very detailed information. Still, in a pinch, they should be able to come up with a ballpark figure. The right agent will give you a range instead of a specific figure; this shows that they know that they need more information and aren’t just going through the motions to attract your business.
- Find out when they will be available – The process of buying a house tends to consume people’s lives. While your house is on the market, you will be in constant touch with your seller’s agent. At least, you should be in constant touch—but that depends on how available they are. Before hiring one, ask about their schedule. Some are only available during business hours while others offer much broader availability.
- Assess their knowledge of the local real estate market – Go online to get a feel for local market conditions before interviewing seller’s agents. That way, you can easily find out whether they stay on top of the local real estate market or just say that they do. Someone with knowledge of the local market will know how long homes are sitting on the market before selling and the average sale price for homes that suit your criteria.
- Make sure that they’ve sold homes like yours before – Just because a seller’s agent sells dozens of homes per year doesn’t mean that they will be able to sell yours. Choose an agent who can prove that they have sold homes that are a lot like yours in the recent past. They may be similar in terms of age, design, size, location or other attributes. The right agent will have a lot of experience in selling homes that fall within the price range of the one that you’re trying to sell; avoid agents who tend to sell homes that cost way more or way less.
- Select an agent with integrity – In the cutthroat world of real estate, some agents rely on backhanded tactics to get by. Avoid teaming up with someone like that because their reputation will unfortunately precede them, and other agents may steer clear of the listing for that reason alone. Search online reviews to determine whether the agent has a reputation for fairness and honesty.
- Work with a strong negotiator – Unless you are very lucky, you are likely to have to endure negotiations before selling your home. Stick with a seller’s agent who has a strong reputation for going to bat for their clients. This agent will be described by others as being an aggressive negotiator, and that is a good thing when it comes to real estate transactions.
- Get references from recent clients – Before moving forward with any seller’s agent, ask them for at least three to six references from clients whom they have helped in the last six to 12 months. Ideally, these should be clients whose homes were fairly similar to the one that you are trying to sell. Contact each reference and ask how they liked working with the agent. Would they hire the agent again?
- Choose an agent who tells it like it is – When trying to sell your house, the last thing that you need is to be surrounded by a bunch of yes men. The right agent will be just as willing to share bad news with you as good news. For example, if your home misses the mark in certain ways, a good agent will tell you so and provide tips on improving things. They won’t pretend like a glaring issue isn’t a problem because doing so could limit their ability to market your home properly.
- Ask about the resources that they can provide – Your seller’s agent will help you to prepare your home so that it fetches the best price possible. They should also be able to refer you to resources that can help to make that happen. For example, an effective real estate agent has connections with repair people, home improvement contractors, attorneys and others who can make your home-selling experience as easy as possible.
- Keep chemistry in mind – Your relationship with your seller’s agent will be brief, with any luck, but that doesn’t mean that chemistry isn’t important. Whether for a few days or a few months, you will be working closely and regularly with this individual. Pay attention to the first impression that you get and to the kind of chemistry that you have with each other. If they rub you the wrong way for any reason, go with your gut and cross them off the list.
- Look for someone who is a proactive communicator – When someone wants to make an offer on your house, your agent should be available and ready to roll. Ask prospective agents how proactive they are about staying in touch with clients and keeping them in the loop. The last thing that you need is to be left in the dark; the process is stressful enough, and the right agent should do what they can to make it as easy as can be.
- Ask what makes them special – Finally, a truly talented and experienced seller’s agent will be confident enough to be able to tell you what makes them stand out from the competition, so always ask about that. Look for detailed answers rather than platitudes; for example, an ideal answer might be that they specialize in homes within your specific price range or that they were born and raised right in the local area.
Let Boston City Properties Refer You to a Seller’s Agent Today
If you are ready to sell your Massachusetts home, Boston City Properties is ready to help. Sign up now to search our listings, which allows you to gain a greater understanding of what homes in your market are selling for currently. When you’re ready, contact us for a referral to a seller’s agent in your desired community. Before you know it, you’ll be fielding offers and moving toward selling your home.