10 tips for choosing a real estate agent.

As a Richmond homeowner, it’s vital to hire a strong real estate agent to sell your property. You’ll fare best with sound marketing exposure and a strong negotiator.
The most reliable way to hire a real estate professional is to investigate more than one specialist. Here are 10 tips to help guide you.

Tip 01

Locate at least three (preferably five) real estate professionals.

  • Look around your neighborhood. Is the same for-sale sign in every other yard? Call this agent and arrange for an interview.
  • Use the Internet.  It’s easy to search for a local agent using our Find An Agent feature.
  • Ask a neighbor or friend. Who sold them their current home? Who would they list with if they wanted to sell? What have they heard about local agents?

Tip 02

Interview the real estate professionals you identified. Having a conversation with the person is a good way to find out if your personalities and goals match. Also, there are things you’ll want to ask.

  • Are you a REALTOR®?” You’ll probably have the best luck finding the right home if you work with a REALTOR®, not simply a real estate agent. REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS®. They are generally full-time agents who have committed financially, educationally and professionally to being an expert in the real estate industry.
  • “How often can I expect to hear from you?” Many agents contact sellers on a regular basis to update them on how many showings their property has had and what potential buyers said after viewing your home.
  • “Have you sold properties like mine?” You want to be sure the agent you hire is familiar with the price range and property type you need him or her to market and sell. Ask for an example or two of similar properties they’ve handled recently.
  • “How quickly can I expect return phone calls?” You don’t want to be ignored. If the agent doesn’t have a callback policy (“You’ll hear back from me within two hours/30 minutes/before the day ends”), you may not get the service you expect.
  • “How will you market my property?” If the agent doesn’t have a strong marketing plan, move on. Ask for examples of how the agent marketed a similar property in the past.
  • “Are you a full-time agent?” “Hobby agents” won’t be as capable of meeting your expectations because their attention is divided by other responsibilities. Limit your search to full-time agents.
  • “Will you give me your honest feedback?” Avoid “yes-men.” If your house isn’t selling because the wallpaper is the wrong color, you need to know. When you find a strong agent, you’ll get more out of each meeting.

Tip 03

Compare interview notes. Think about each agent, and decide which one is right for you. You should choose someone aggressive, but who doesn’t make you feel anxious or pressured.

Tip 04

Experience pays. Experienced real estate professionals often earn designations that separate them from the pack. These designations are earned through precise training to help the agent become a specialist in certain areas. Pay attention to agents who have designations listed after their names on business cards. Specifically ask the agent what each one means.

Tip 05

Find an agent who is savvy about technology. Through the online tools available to agents these days, you can expect nearly immediate e-mails about new property listings and quick replies to your queries.

Tip 06

Ask for references. This shouldn’t be a big deal; it’s a last-step investigation that could confirm or reject your current impression of the agent.

Tip 07

Before signing a contract, know that the term “Disclosed Dual Agent” often means that the real estate agency does not represent your interests 100-percent.

Tip 08

Ask the agent who is your top choice to do an informal walk-through of your home. Find out if he or she thinks your property will need new paint, carpet or repairs, or whether it should sell as-is. Ask how he or she believes this will influence the strength of your negotiations with buyers. Ultimately, a home inspector will do a complete evaluation of your home’s strengths and weaknesses, but knowing how an agent wants to present your home will help you decide whether or not you want to work with that person.

Tip 09

Select a strong negotiator. Unless you have oodles of money, you’ll want a strong negotiator on your side. Ask your agent whether he or she has ever been in a tough negotiating situation and ask how he or she negotiated a price with which the client was happy.

Tip 10

Talk money. Usually the seller in a transaction foots the bill for a real estate professional’s commission, so ask point-blank what your financial obligations are throughout the process.