4 Questions to Ask Your Listing Agent

You've decided you want to sell your house. Congratulations! Now, what's the next step?  You may know a real estate agent or even be related to one. You may have gotten a random postcard from an agent touting the last home they sold in your neighborhood for more than list price in just 1 day.  But will you be that lucky?

Zillow and Trulia have agent reviews, but are they trustworthy? The property you want to sell has your entire life savings locked up in the equity; you can't afford to make a mistake.  The people leaving reviews are meant to be consumers who have had a deal with the agent. However, without knowing who left the review, or the circumstances under which they left it, it can be difficult to get a true sense of the agent's abilities from these reviews.  The best way to find a reputable agent to ask someone you know, who would have similar expectations.

You can also become an interviewing expert with our list of top questions to ask a potential listing agent.

1. If I sign a listing contract to sell my house with you, what will you do get my house sold? The answer will vary based on the agent and their techniques.  Some good answers to this question can be found in our list 8 Things a Good Agent Does to Sell Your Home.

2. How did you determine the estimated market value of my property? Market value is what you can reasonably expect your home to sell for, given current market conditions. Make sure your agent gives you an evidence-based report that contains comparable sales and listings. Comparable sales include properties similar to yours, which have sold in the past year or are currently under contract for sale, taking into account market trends. Ask your agent if it is a good market to sell or a good market to buy; in a good market to sell, a home priced properly should sell quickly, whereas in a good market to buy, homes may need to be priced a little lower to sell quickly. For more information, see our page on CMA/Appraisals.

3. How did you determine the list price of my property? The list price of your house may not be the same as the sale price. Agents have different strategies; some like to price a property right where they think the property will sell, while others overprice a house expecting to accept negotiated offers or price a house low and go into a bidding war on the property (similar to auction bidding).  Each agent will have a different technique. Make sure you understand their philosophy as it pertains to your property. Their method may vary based on a property‚Äôs condition and the current market trends.

4. How long of a listing contract is required? All parts of a listing contract are negotiable, including the contract length. An agent may want a longer contract if they will need a longer time to market the home at a certain list price.  Discuss length of marketing time in relation to expected sale price. Generally speaking, the higher the sale price compared to the estimated value, the longer the marketing time. Simply put, if you want to sell it quickly, price it right.