By: Maryanne Elsaesser - Broker Associate Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
My 82-year-old mother has made the decision to sell her home in South Jersey. Given that I’ve been a realtor for more than a decade, it’s no problem for me to handle the sale, right? Wrong. Her home was far beyond the geographic area where I work, so I knew I wasn’t the right one to handle the deal.
So what did I do? I did what I advise everyone to do when they are looking for an agent to sell their home or find a new one.
To Find an Agent, Start Off With These Steps
- Type in the town you are searching for on third-party sites with local listings such as Zillow, Realtor.com, or Trulia, and compile a list of brokerages that have listings in that area (such as Coldwell Banker, Weichert, Berkshire Hathaway, Beach Realty, etc.).
- Select three that have the most listings in that town (this is called ‘market share’) then, call the managing broker of each office. Share the things you feel are important to you and explain what you expect and need from an agent. Do you have young kids and can’t do showings past 7 p.m.? Do you expect phone communication rather than email? For me, I knew my mother needed to be in the house while we were marketing, and the agent needed to understand that and work within that framework. I also needed the agent to be at every show. (Some agents will tell you that it’s not a good idea for the listing agent to be there, mostly because they don’t want to be there).
- Ask the brokers to give you 3 names of agents. With 3 different firms, this will give you 9 good options.
- Google each agent and take notes on their web presence. Do they come up easily in a simple search? This will indicate whether they are promoting their business through search engine optimization. Did they use a professional photographer for a headshot? Do they list their cell phone?
- Next, go to Zillow. On the tab called “Agent Finder,” search for each name. You will be able to see approximately how many transactions they do (I look for a minimum of 15.) More importantly, look at customer reviews, and read them all. Look for reviews that praise the agent for doing things that are important to you. When a client details heartfelt gratitude, it typically means the agent goes above and beyond.
- Using the information you’ve gathered so far, eliminate 6 agents, leaving three to interview in person. Set up interviews to meet each one.
Once you’ve met with the agent, here are some tips to keep in mind.
A Good Agent Should
- Ask you about your goals and needs instead of bragging about themselves.
- Highlight what they can do for you, instead of criticizing other agents or companies.
- Collaborate, rather than expect you to conform to their goals or agenda.
- Be able to alter their typical model to meet your needs. (In my mother’s case, an agent needed to be at every showing because of her medical issues.).
- Demonstrate a personality that shows they can work well with others and defuse conflicts. This becomes important in negotiating inspection issues and dealing with the personalities of buyers, and their attorneys.
- Show their knowledge about schools, local ordinances, and township specifics.
- Identify who they think your buyer will be and have a plan to target that type of individual.
- Use professionals when needed, such as a photographer or stager.
- Present a detailed marketing plan, including open houses, web syndication, print ads, and algorithm-targeted ads with a set schedule.
- Update you weekly (at the least) on progress and hold monthly strategy sessions to look at longer-range planning.