At the simplest level, a real estate agent represents buyers and sellers in the purchase and sale of “real property” (e.g., a house). When you were looking to buy, the agent you worked with probably spent most of his or her time showing you houses, which is probably why so many people think that’s what agents primarily do. When you’re selling, though, showing your home is actually a very small part of an agent’s job. Assuming you’re working with a full-service agent and that they’re doing a good job, they’ll also be doing much more than that for you.
WORKING WITH A REAL ESTATE AGENT
Professional real estate agents can be a tremendous source of information as you begin the process of selling your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of For Sale By Owner (FSBO) transactions has decreased steadily since 2001. While there may be many reasons behind this trend, the most compelling reasons to use a real estate agent are:
1. Pricing is more accurate which increases the likelihood of a successful sale
2. Experienced negotiators are able to close more deals
3. Listing your home in the local MLS vastly increases its exposure
4. A faster sale saves 2-3 months of extra house payments
5. Real estate title and escrow closing fees are less expensive than using an attorney
Buyers are looking for the best home that their budget will allow them to buy, so a home that’s not properly prepared for sale can easily get crossed off the list. A buyer’s first impression of your home happens when they are walking toward your front door. If it’s warm weather, improve your landscaping, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden and plant flowers. If it’s cold weather, scoop the walks and buy a new welcome mat. The key to preparing the interior of your home is to declutter and depersonalize. If necessary, repaint with neutral colors. It’s also vital that you eliminate bad odors. Objectionable smells are an instant turn off.
No two homes or situations are exactly alike, so an experienced agent needs to use a variety of tactics to market your home. First, I will use a professional photographer to take high quality photos of your home since that vast majority of buyers will look at your home online before seeing it in person. Signs will be posted in your yard as well as directionals in your neighborhood near major intersections. I will direct mail your neighborhood with information about your home. Often, your neighbors know a friend or family member that is looking for a home nearby. Your home will be listed on the MLS, our brokerage website, Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia and many other online sites. In most cases, weekend open houses will be held (unless you prefer not to have your house open).
Truth be told, an agent’s most important target market is not necessarily home buyers, but rather other agents. At any given time, most real estate agents are working with several buyers that are actively looking for a home. My job is to create an attractive MLS listing for your home that will be noticed by other agents. In addition to that, I will email a “Just Listed” blast to all registered real estate agents when your home hits the market, touting the features and photos of your home. I will announce your home’s availability at our weekly agent meetings and feature it on my social media pages, and CBSHOME website.
Once we receive an offer on your home, my role evolves into part messenger and part manager. There will a period where there is a flurry of communication between the buyer and us (as the sellers). In most cases, the buyer will want to negotiate the price, contributions to their closing costs, repairs to the home, closing date, and inspections to be conducted. My job is to handle counter offers and contingency issues, following the paper trail from initial offer to final closing. It’s a big job that I take very seriously.
Once the negotiation period is over, there is usually a 30-45 day escrow closing period. During this time, the buyer is busy getting financing arrangements in order with their lender, having the home appraised, and packing up their belongings to prepare for the move. As sellers, we are busy as well. Most likely, there will be a home inspection that will yield repairs that need to be made to the home. I maintain a long list of reputable contractors. All of these contingencies will need to be cleared with an addendum to the purchase agreement that will be signed by all parties involved. It sounds like a lot, but I will be actively leading the effort to guide this transaction successfully to the closing table.