By Jesse McCarl
When you interview a listing agent, you are essentially an employer. You are looking for the right candidate to entrust with a very valuable job. Many agents make it their goal to secure the job before leaving their listing interview. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that (if anything, it’s a good way to keep the ball rolling), but it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for before you meet with your first candidate.
Here are the most important questions to ask in a listing interview, and what kind of answers you should be listening for:
What kind of homes are you used to selling?
Your agent should be compatible with your home in every way. The agent should be used to selling homes in your area, in your price range, and close to your expected timeline.
How many homes did you sell last year?
There needs to be at least one good résumé question early on in your interview. For a question like this, the actual number of homes sold is irrelevant; it’s more about how the information is presented. A low number isn’t necessarily a problem if the houses sold fast at a good price. Many agents aim to sell at least one or two houses per month, but it depends on what kind of company they represent.
How does your selling price usually compare to your listing price?
You want as little discrepancy here as possible. It sounds appealing for the agent to sell homes for way more than the asking price, but that could mean they always low-ball the asking price and you’re still losing money. If they normally list for way more than what is offered, they are likely not marketing the home correctly or lack an understanding of the local market.
What needs to be done to this home before it will be ready to sell?
Any agent worth his keep started the listing interview by taking a tour through the home, presumably while introducing himself and his company. When he answers this question, it’s okay if the answer sounds a bit brutal. It’s better to have an agent that will be realistic with you than try to always make you feel like everything is perfect. Just bear in mind they may not fully answer your question because they don’t want to reveal all their tricks before they officially land the gig.
What’s your marketing plan for my home?
Again, the answer to this question may be broad until they officially take the job, but this question should still give you an understanding of an agent’s strategy. How many websites is she listing the property on? What broker previews or open houses does she have planned? Would there be any creative initiative in marketing?
What broker do you typically work with?
For your benefit, it’s usually better if the agent has a standard broker that s/he has developed a lasting working relationship with. However, the decision is ultimately yours. If the agent refuses to work with a different broker, s/he should be able to refer you to a better fitting agent.
What moving company do you recommend? Contractor? Etc?
Ask about any resources you may need during the selling or moving process. A good agent should have all these connections in his/her back pocket for whenever you need them.
Discuss home pricing.
Few Realtors will lay out a price in a listing interview. Many won’t even lay out a price after being hired. But they should be knowledgeable when they walk through how YOU can price your own house. They should know how many comparable houses have sold in the area recently, what they’re selling for, and how long they sit on the market.
These essential listing interview questions are designed to cover all the bases you’ll need to familiarize yourself with a Realtor’s methods, experience, and knowledge. If you know what to ask a listing agent, you should be able to make a decision about your Realtor with confidence.
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