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Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-05-2006, 06:03 PM   #1
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Interviewing Realtors

What should I look for when interviewing realtors? Experience? Free time? Willingness to work hard by having open houses every weekend of the first month? Both agents want to have the house on the market ASAP.

I have interviewed two agents so far. Here are their pros and cons:

Agent 1:

Pro:

Offers plenty of advice on house prep/staging.
Willing to spend a lot of time on my account because she's new.
Promises to bake cookies for open house events.
She lives just a few blocks away.

Con:

Limited experience.
I find her cute. It interferes with my big brain's ability to think.


Agent 2:

Pro:

Years of experience.
Professional and aggressive.

Con:

Offered absolutely no advice on staging/prep.
Prep work on comps though comprehensive was less complete because she did not come with a suggested sale price sheet.
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-05-2006, 06:28 PM   #2
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

Quote:
Originally Posted by BunsOfVeal
Agent 1:

Pro:

Promises to bake cookies for open house events.

Con:

I find her cute. It interferes with my big brain's ability to think.
BOV, I'm going to help you look at this from a totally different perspective.

Your goal is to sell your house, not to improve how you think. And it doesn't take Grumpy or any other rocket scientist on the board to figure out you're hoping she'll "bake your cookies" somewhere in the sales cycle.

No question. Take door #1...


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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-05-2006, 07:54 PM   #3
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

Wow, thanks for that vote of confidence, ReWahoo! She made sure that her boyfriend called her twice during her visit, so I think she's already baking her cookies for someone else.

I'm not kidding, but from the photo on her sales postcard, I thought she would be a heavy-set middle-age woman, exactly the type of woman I like to work with when it comes to selling houses because I get a woman's perspective on what women look for when buying houses without any of the big head not thinking and little head working overtime dilemma, but I guess the photo on that postcard was just a lousy photo. By the way, I worked with a 55-year-old lady on my last sale, and it worked out great. However, it's not as if I can call up a real estate agency and ask for 55-year-old woman without getting sued for age discrimination.
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 07:58 AM   #4
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

Quote:
Originally Posted by BunsOfVeal
However, it's not as if I can call up a real estate agency and ask for 55-year-old woman without getting sued for age discrimination.
Sure you can. You're the customer. Call them up and say that you want someone you can relate to more easily. They will figure it out and send someone age-appropriate.
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 08:02 AM   #5
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

Be careful about any agent who has a large number of listings. *The worst realtor we ever had was someone whose name and picture were everywhere. *She had lots of experience and we saw that she did a lot of business, plus she lived in our neighborhood so we figured she would be good. *But once she got our listing, she had NO time for us whatsoever, and really made some bad decisions for us because she was more interested in her volume than our individual home sale.

The best way is to get honest referrals from other people who have bought or sold houses recently. *And get the shortest listing you can in case you end up with a dud agent. *

JMHO
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 08:10 AM   #6
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

In reading this thread, it occurs to me that there are a million websites on the questions that we should ask our doctors or car salesmen or a financial advisor.

Where's the "seller's advocacy website" on how to interview a realtor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BunsOfVeal
Offers plenty of advice on house prep/staging.
Apparently "staging" is a newer certification among realtors. One of our local realtors is bragging about marketing their staff's skill as graduates from staging school.

Apparently staging has nothing to do with scaffolding or theater, but rather with fixing up the home for its best presentation (like HGTV's "Designed to Sell" or "Curb Appeal"). It's not just about sprinkling around potpourri or picking up the clutter, either-- we're talking several thousand $$ in closet organizers, paint, décor, and presentation. Some stagers will even put rental furniture in your house if you've already moved out.

I'd be a bit worried about hiring a realtor who's a staging expert. When you carry a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and staging fees might turn out to be a very lucrative sideline in the realty business-- whether your home needs it or not.
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 08:52 AM   #7
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

How 'bout interviewing a few of your prospective realtors clients? See what sort of picture they paint. Also, know your responsibilities as to disclosures etc. The ultimate responsibility (at least in CA) falls on the seller. We bought a property in which the "Mrs. Butterbreast" realtor actively concealed damage in her "staging" of the property. Two years and a bunch of money later.....
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 09:19 AM   #8
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

I had pretty good luck selling through a tiny local independent. The big chains may have more people looking at their listings, but the agents have to do twice as much work in order to give Re-Max or Century 21 their cut, in addition to whoever's heading the office and co-brokers. I paid the independent 4% but he may well have taken 3%. I was in a relative hurry to sell or I would have thought it through more. He got the whole kaboodle, not the 1% (or less?) that might trickle-down to an agent in a big shop. I'd lived in the area for years and watched the local agents play musical chairs, making the rounds of all the big chains, while this guy just sat quietly on the sidelines with his 2 or 3 listings. He had me a buyer within a week, and the deal was closed w/in the month; he handled everything for me while I was already overseas.

I think experience is the biggest factor, combined with how long they have been working in the area. (Forget "cookies"! *: ) Real estate is almost a temp job for some, or a fall-back from some other failed career. They think they can hit it big, realize it's harder than it looks, and get weeded out within a year or two. Also, you could ask what percentage of their listings sell at the asking price or above. This also measures their "get serious" factor.. A lot of people go with a realtor who gives them an overly-optimistic appraisal 1.) just to get the listing and 2.) cuz ya never know, ya might hit the lottery! .. only to have the property sit for a few months and then voilà! the house appears with a different realtor for $50k less. Depends on what your personal time constraints are and how long you might be willing to wait, keeping your house in "showable" condition on a moment's notice the whole time.

"Staging" does have its benefits. We cleared out the weed-plagued side "yard" (one of those strips about 3' wide next to the neighbor's chain-link fence.) and put in a meandering stone path. Even without doing anything so far as "plantings" were concerned, I'm convinced that it helped. I think the HGTV route would be cost-effective for Beverly-Hills-type properties (and Beverly-Hills-type buyers).

It all depends on your area. Go around to other people's open houses and see what you like/don't like about the way the houses are presented and the way the agents behave. Good Luck!
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 09:35 AM   #9
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

Watch out for realtors who "buy" your listing by inflating your expectations as to what you can get for your home.

Oh, and if your market is not as hot as it once was, get a realtor who is good at negotiating.
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 10:18 AM   #10
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

I don't think you've talked to enough realtors yet!!

If the "professional but aggressive" experienced one didn't do a complete sales presentation - was missing information PLUS didn't advice on how to fix-up/stage/present home - well forget it! That's not good enough.

I don't recommend going with an inexperienced one either. You need good advice on negotiating with a buyer, presenting the house, setting a price, what really counts in terms of repairs, what a buyer may ask of you, etc. That requires experience.

Our realtors (we interviewed 3) said forget the "open house" it doesn't bring in the business.

You want someone who will help and does a great job MARKETING the house - has website, will do virtual tours, gets the MLS listing posted asap. Basically one that gets the word out to other realtors ASAP. That's one reason why working with a large realtor company can be a good idea.

We selected our realtors from those who had CLOSED on a house in our neighborhood within the past couple of months, plus who had a good web presence. We examined their listings as well as their personal credentials on the web.

All the realtors we interviewed were well qualified and experienced. We selected the one with whom we had the be rapport plus seemed to see more eye-to-eye in terms of what we were willing to do with our house and how to set the price.

FWIW - we accepted a good offer within 10 days of listing.

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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 10:32 AM   #11
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

Oh yeah - we had our goals pretty clear. We had already done what we could to get the house looking great and we weren't interested in making major remodeling investments. We wanted it to sell FAST so setting the price was critical. We'd seen some houses sitting for while because they had priced $5K to $10K too high. Realtors seems to steer away from these homes immediately.

Before selecting the agent we already had a good idea of where our price should be based on the houses that had sold in the area. We looked up the local realtors on the web and reviewed their listings and noted the similar homes (same square footage, similar neighborhood, same # stories, etc.).

Every realtor we talked to we had the discussion of how to price the house given our goals. We were able to measure their presentation against our expectations.

Some agents will low-ball you because they are a high-volume realtor and they don't care about getting you a fair price, just moving the property. Some agents will overprice your house because they want to get your listing.

So this means you already have to kind of figure out what the price should be and whether you are willing to take a chance and sit on the market longer if your initial price is too high, or you are willing to get some work done to raise the value of your home (and thus delay your entry into the market).

We got the price we hoped for. And as I mentioned above - it was on the market for only 10 days.

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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 11:11 AM   #12
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

I buy realtors based on price and availability, just like everything else.

You can get all the advice and direction from a number of books or web sites.

All of them will put a listing into the MLS.

Statistically, open houses and all that arent worth much.

After that, how quick will they respond to buyers agents, getting out the paperwork, and giving you advice on closing. Again, the advice on closing can be had for free from a multitude of sources.

You really cant tell what sort of person you're dealing with until you do the deal. Instead of just interviewing the agents, talk to friends and relatives who have had a good experience with someone. I had a buyers agent assigned by a relocation department once. Thought she was dippy and goofy but a nice lady with a good motor that was willing to show me a lot of property without losing patience...a good thing as my girlfriend at the time wanted to look at 100 houses...and we did. When we got an offer and got into negotiations, the dippy goofy nice lady strapped a fin on her back and took off the sunglasses, revealing dark beady little eyes. I dont think that sellers agent ever knew what hit them/
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 07:27 PM   #13
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

Get a realtor who will not require you to list with them for a long period of time. That will keep them motivated.
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-06-2006, 07:44 PM   #14
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

And make sure they dont lowball the price of your house. If you're not in a big rush to sell, add 10% to whatever they come up with for a price and tell them you're doing that, and that you'll have a 'reduction in price!' in about a month.
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-24-2006, 02:45 PM   #15
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

Hey, everyone, thanks for all the advice! Yes, I decided to go with an older, married lady who has sold or bought 5 townhouses in my development. I'm her only listing currently, and her stated price for the house is somewhere in the middle of what the others were projecting. She also said that open houses are good for only a couple of things: To make other agents/brokers aware of the listing and to satisfy my neighbors' curiosity, so she will be holding three for the first 6 weeks of the listing. She also signed a terminate-anytime clause as long as I list with another agent instead of selling the house myself. Fair enough.
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Re: Interviewing Realtors
Old 03-25-2006, 05:29 PM   #16
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Re: Interviewing Realtors

Quote:
Originally Posted by BunsOfVeal
Hey, everyone, thanks for all the advice! Yes, I decided to go with an older, married lady who has sold or bought 5 townhouses in my development. I'm her only listing currently, and her stated price for the house is somewhere in the middle of what the others were projecting. She also said that open houses are good for only a couple of things: To make other agents/brokers aware of the listing and to satisfy my neighbors' curiosity, so she will be holding three for the first 6 weeks of the listing. She also signed a terminate-anytime clause as long as I list with another agent instead of selling the house myself. Fair enough.

The gal I listed with has sold 18 homes in the neighborhood, Cute as a button, and a full time worker to boot. Knows everything about our town, has many contacts with relo companies, and did not have us low ball the price. So I had it on the market for 3 days and decided to not retire early and took the house off the market, Temporarily.

Well I will be going down south in june and finding a place to live and then calling my cute realtor and getting this baby sold!!!

IT IS TIME TO GET MY @SS OUT OF NEW JERSEY!!
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