9 Things Real Estate Agents Should Do for Home Sellers
Mar 25, 2019 March 25, 2019
Given the fact that a real estate agent is responsible for handling what is usually your most significant asset, it’s important to know what you should be able to expect when hiring a realtor to sell your home. The real estate market is a tricky world filled with all kinds of players. Agents come in all varieties, from the cream of the crop who will go the extra mile to make sure that each client receives maximum service and makes the most money possible, to those that will do as little as they can get away and cut corners by not hiring the right team of professionals or doing good market research. Then, there are those that are simply new to the field and lack essential skills that only experience can develop.
In my article Why Hiring a Top Producer Realtor Makes a Huge Difference, I discuss all the reasons it pays to hire the right real estate agent to sell your home, and in my post 13 Top Questions to Ask a Realtor Before You Hire Them, I provide a list of questions to help you screen potential agents to sell your home. Below I discuss what you should be able to expect your realtor to do do for you when you hire them to sell your home. Make sure, when you interview potential candidates, that you discuss the following services and how the realtor will fulfill each one.
Obligations of Real Estate Agents to Home Sellers
When you hire an agent to sell your home, you enter into the agreement with the understanding that the agent is undertaking a professional obligation to do everything in his or her power to optimize the whole process related to the sale of your home. The agent acts as the seller’s advocate, or the professional who guides your steps, and from whom you can expect mentorship, loyalty, and assistance. Naturally, you’ll want to work with an agent whom you can trust fully to do everything they can to help you make the most money possible on the sale, but also one who knows how to manage the process so that everything goes smoothly through every step of the journey.
1. Set the Right Asking Price
By far the most important factor in determining the success of your sale is pricing your home correctly, and this is where the realtor’s level of skill and experience come into play. Pricing a home properly is one of the most important skills in a realtor’s arsenal, and the best agents in the industry build their reputation by pricing homes accurately and making successful sales within close range of the original asking price. A truly seasoned expert will look at many factors in order to determine and recommend the ideal asking price for the property. Ask any realtor that you interview about homes they’ve sold recently, and ask about how close the selling price was to the original listing price on those homes. This will give you a good idea as to the agent’s track record and expertise in this area.
2. Provide Top Quality Marketing
Another crucial service that your real estate agent should provide is appropriate marketing that will draw potential buyers to your property. Look for an agent who is knowledgeable about how to get the word out about your listing, and attract potential buyers by using every available marketing opportunity, beyond just the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
Visit the agent’s website to see the quality of the listings that they publish there. Are the photographs top quality? Do the listings clearly describe properties in the most favorable light? Is the website professional-looking and easy to navigate?
Remember that this will be where potential buyers will first see and learn about your home, so the visual quality of the site is of utmost importance. If the pictures posted are not up to par, you stand to drive away a significant amount of traffic from your listing. The best agents will go the extra mile and hire professionals to take fabulous pictures and design truly attractive and functional web pages to make the buyer’s experience a positive one, which ultimately makes sellers happy as well!
3. Provide Access to a Professional Network
Great real estate agents surround themselves with a network of other terrific professionals who provide all of the necessary services required to execute a successful property sale. Ask your realtor what connections they can offer to services and professionals, such as professional property stagers, handymen or contractors to get key repairs done to maximize your net sale price. A good realtor may even be able to recommend a good moving or housekeeping service. And ultimately you will likely want the help of an attorney to prepare your sellers docs as you head towards closing. A top-tier real estate agent should provide a list of their preferred partners or vendors for any seller who requests it.
4. Keep Communication Lines Open
One of the biggest complaints among home sellers when describing their experiences in working with real estate agents is not being able to get a hold of the agent once they’ve listed the home for sale. For obvious reasons, a seller has the right to be kept abreast of what is happening in relation to the sale of their property at any given time during the process.
While many agents maintain the unpopular habit of checking in with a client only when they receive an offer, sellers typically prefer far more communication than that. A good real estate agent should take the time to keep the client updated on the process of the sale at every stage of the process, from providing feedback after each showing, to noting any relevant activity in the market that may concern or affect the sale.
5. Qualify the Buyer
Screening out unqualified buyers is also a crucial part of the agent’s responsibility. While anyone can show interest in purchasing a house, obviously not everyone can be approved for a home loan. A good real estate agent will make sure that any potential buyers who come to the negotiation table are already pre-approved.
It is important to distinguish here that buyers must be pre-approved and not just pre-qualified, as there is actually a significant difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification. The process of pre-qualification does not take into account the buyer’s credit report, income verification, or employment, which are key factors in determining whether or not they may be approved for a home mortgage.
A pre-qualification is never enough to go on when considering a buyer seriously. It is important to avoid any wasted time by only negotiating with potential buyers who have already presented all the required data, such as a credit report, earnings, and employment verification, and have earned pre-approval for a loan so that they will easily qualify for the mortgage they’ll need to purchase your home.
6. Negotiate the Most Favorable Terms for the Seller
A good real estate seller’s agent will always have the client’s best interest at heart and will negotiate the best possible terms of sale for the client. For sellers, this means beware of agents who appear to be desperate to make a sale, or those that want to rush through the process without considering the most favorable terms for you, the seller.
Everything in a real estate contract is usually negotiable, and the best agents will advocate for their clients by negotiating the best possible terms for the sale so that the seller comes out making as much as possible and under the most favorable conditions. For example, a good agent will take the trouble of making a counteroffer for a price that leaves more money in their client’s pocket, and bringing these negotiation skills to the table is the reason you’re hiring them in the first place.
Similarly, if you require any adjustments to the contract, these should be handled appropriately by the seasoned professional who is advocating for you. A good agent will take into consideration the value of each and every detail in the contract and how it benefits or fails to benefit the client. A top performing agent will always make every effort to get contracts negotiated to the maximum benefit of the client, as this is how a good real estate agent builds a solid reputation.
7. Represent The Seller by Attending the Home Inspection
While many realtors may attempt to skip out on this important service, this is one of those points that makes or breaks a good real estate agent. The best of the best will always show up for the inspection, and this is crucial, as the agent will be able to hear the feedback provided by the inspector first-hand, and make appropriate recommendations to the seller accordingly.
It will help you as a seller tremendously if your agent keeps track of all that is said and recommended at the inspection, particularly in case a potential buyer asks for any concessions or repairs based on the inspection. An experienced agent will know whether a potential buyer’s requests are reasonable or whether they are excessive. In fact, another aspect of the realtor’s job is actually to protect you, the client/seller, from having to yield to unreasonable requests made by potential buyers.
While some agents may argue that showing up at the inspection may expose them to liability, it should be noted that the only thing that may create liability for a realtor at a home inspection is anything that may be said by the agent when speaking out of turn, not the agent’s actual presence there. A realtor attending a home inspection should be there merely to observe quietly and take note of what is said by the inspector, and not to interject any comments.
8. Attend The Home Appraisal and Answer Any Questions that Come Up
Another service that a good real estate agent will provide is to attend the home appraisal. This is beneficial because it means that they will understand more closely all the facts regarding the home, as well as being available to answer questions for the appraiser. For example, the realtor should be on hand to answer any questions regarding updates and renovations that can have an impact upon the value of your property in order to help the appraiser take this information into account when preparing the appraisal.
9. Take Care of Closing Details
There are dozens of details that go into closing the sale of a home. As the closing date approaches, your agent should be taking care of any loose ends, paperwork, last-minute approvals, certificates, and minor points that may still need handling, so that there are no delays at the time of closing.
While selling your home may be among one of life’s most stressful experiences, it helps tremendously to have a top quality real estate agent with expertise, skill, and experience, to help you handle all the details. A lot of stress may be avoided by picking the right real estate agent, as this can make the difference between living through a nightmare and making a happy and successful sale!
This information for those seeking to sell a home is provided by Sepehr Niakan, a top performing real estate agent working in the South Florida real estate market, including Midtown, Edgewater, Design District, Downtown Miami, Brickell, Coconut Grove, Upper East Side, Miami Beach, Miami Shores, and other areas in the greater Miami area.