Choose the Right Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

Determining how to choose the right real estate agent to sell your home can feel like an overwhelming proposition. After all, there are approximately 35,000 licensed agents in the Toronto area alone. That’s about 1 agent for every 160 people! Over 90% of these agents registered at least one sale in the past year, although a large portion of all agents is only working part time. These staggering numbers may be difficult to wade through at first, but they also mean that the real estate agent market in Toronto is incredibly competitive. You have a strong chance of getting a high quality agent at an affordable price. Selling your home is likely one of your most important financial transactions, so it is absolutely imperative to secure the right agent for your property.

The best way to find the best real estate agent for your property is to thoroughly explore the market. Interview candidate agents as if you were hiring them for a job – which you are! We strongly suggest that you ask for references from previous clients – ideally people who live in the same neighborhood as you. They can give you information about the agent that you might not think to ask about. You need to be confident that your agent will secure the best possible deal for your home, so don’t hesitate to ask questions.

We recommend that you ask potential real estate agents about their experience and what makes them better than the competition. You should also ask about their strategy for marketing and selling your home; the best agents will have a solid plan that’s specifically tailored to your circumstances. You can get into specifics here if you want. Will the agent stage your home to get a higher selling price? Are they planning an open house? Will they hire a professional photographer or use their smartphone to take pictures for the listing? Generally, you’ll want an agent who specializes in your neighborhood and really knows that particular market well. When it comes to big real estate firms, one of the most important questions to ask is: will the agent be working with you directly, or will you get assigned to a member of his or her team?

As you’re interviewing your candidates, here are the main factors to keep in mind:

  1. Degree and quality of experience

One of the most important factors to consider is the agent’s professional status, including whether he or she works full time. There are several reasons to choose a full time agent over a part time one. Firstly, a full time agent will be much more invested in the work, and is much likelier to keep up with the latest developments in the market. With a full time agent, you’ll be getting someone who is much more focused on getting you a great deal, compared to someone who’s occupied with another job for the majority of their day. Secondly, a full time agent will have been involved in more deals than a part time agent, even if they’ve been working for the same length of time. As we will see, an agent with more experience will get you a better deal. Thirdly, a full time agent will likely have more time to spend on you and your home. You’ll be able to establish a much better business relationship and communicate your needs and preferences effectively.

Most people prefer an agent with more experience. An agent with more deals under his or her belt will be able to anticipate buyer behavior and hold a much stronger negotiating position. Most reputable agents have at least 10 deals over the course of a year. Agents in the top tier of a typical brokerage firm will have 40 deals or more in a year. However, don’t be too quick to dismiss newer agents. Their competency depends on the training and mentorship they have received, so you could end up with a top-notch, freshly licensed agent. A newer agent would also have more time to spend on you and your home than a more experienced agent with his or her hands full. In any case, you want to know what you’re signing up for well in advance.

  1. Value for money

Here’s a secret that most real estate agents won’t tell you: commissions are negotiable. Some agents charge a flat fee, while others charge a percentage of the price of the house. Make sure you find out exactly what you’re paying for. What is included in the commission? How will the agent market your home? Most agents will offer a free valuation of your home without requiring you to sign on, so be wary of agents who tell you otherwise. Your goal should be to understand what kind of value your candidate agents provide for their commission, and how they plan to make your listing stand out.

The best agents will set a realistic asking price for your home, and sell it very close to that initial price. Ask your candidates about their average-list-price-to-sales-price ratios. How does the initial price they list for a home typically compare to the final price at which they sell it? For a great listing agent, the two prices should be very close together, making their average-list-price-to-sales-price ratio close to 100%. If an agent promises you an exorbitant selling price, be alert: often when agents list a property at an inflated price, the property languishes on the market, forcing the seller to drastically lower the initial asking price. Ask your agent for his or her listing track record so you know what to expect.

  1. Savvy – leverages online and other promotion channels

Marketing is a huge part of your listing agent’s job. You need to know exactly how your agent plans to attract potential buyers. Ask where the property will be advertised. Does your candidate agent use online promotional channels, or rely on print listings? What about social media platforms? If the agent you’re interviewing is still working with vanilla feature sheets and ignoring the Internet, odds are they’re not really in touch with the market. For more details, you can ask whether a direct mailing campaign would be appropriate. We also suggest asking your agent for sample promotional materials, like flyers.

  1. Good fit for your needs and schedule

At the end of the day, you want an agent who’s the right fit for you. You want someone who shares your vision of your home and its potential – someone who can turn that potential into a reality. Interviewing agents is crucial for this reason alone. Without talking to him beforehand, you’ll never get a sense of how your agent operates.

Interviews are also important for establishing the logistical side of your home sale. You might be tempted to go with a well-known agent at a huge company, but it’s very likely that the big name will disappear after the listing presentation, leaving you to deal with someone else on the agent’s team. This might not be a deal-breaker, but you certainly want to have it sorted out before you sign on.

 

Selling your home is a really important decision, and finding the right listing agent is vital. The best approach is to figure out what you want out of an agent in terms of experience, value, strategy, and availability. This will make it much easier to select the right person after a few interviews. For more information on how to choose the right real estate agent to sell your home, check out these links:

There are too many real estate agents! How do I choose one? The Globe and Mail

How to Interview a Real Estate Agent, About Home

4 Things to Look for When Choosing a Realtor, Canadian Living

5 Things a Real Estate Agent Won’t Tell You, The Star

There are thousands of realtors in Toronto. Here’s how to pick one. The Grid