Read Between The Lines: Questions Every Home Seller Should Ask

Read Between The Lines: Questions Every Home Seller Should Ask

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By Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary, Team Leader, Property Manager, Award Winning Agent

Knowledge is everything. Selling a home requires attention to detail, open communication and trustworthy advisers. You should never be afraid to ask questions or to want answers, especially about your listing agreement. A key question to ask is if the REALTOR works full time. A part time real estate agent will provide part time service and is often harder for buyers to contact. A competent, trustworthy, full time real estate agent is your key to a successful sale.

Believe The Evidence
Searching for a REALTOR can be a difficult task. Talk to friends and trusted colleagues about past experiences and get referrals. Type the name of the real estate agency into a search engine on the Internet or research them at the Department of Occupations. The Department of Occupations retains records on real estate professionals and others licensed by the state. All of the information is considered public record and you can find out when the person obtained their license and if there have been any complaints or violations documented.

The Proof Is In The Pudding
Once you have made the decision to work with a REALTOR don't be afraid to ask for marketing and advertising details. Examine the real estate agent's plan of action. What type of marketing and advertising campaign will be executed and how will this help to sell your home? Ask to see samples of other advertising campaigns. Review the web site and read testimonials or ask for a client reference. Request monthly or weekly reports on the marketing campaign. The reports will document the actions taken to sell your home as quickly as possible and with the most amount of profit.

Get It In Writing
When you sign a listing agreement you should have the right to terminate the agreement if you are not satisfied with the services prior to the expiration date. Make sure you have this condition in writing. In addition, be clear about what you deem important when listing your home. The real estate listing agent should know what you are willing to repair and for how much, especially if you are selling “as is”. Have these guidelines in writing so the real estate agent's responsibilities are clear. If the real estate agent is not willing to put these details in writing consider finding another REALTOR.

Beware Of Hidden Fees
Always have the commission break down in writing. Note if the listing agent is making more than the buyer's agent. Generally, the buyer's agent and the listing agent should be receiving the same commission percentage. Ask if the listing agent charges a transaction fee; if you are expected to pay this fee find another agent since this fee is not necessary. Costs should be covered with titling, lawyer, inspection and other fees. Always ask about transaction fees up front before signing any agreements. Homebuyers are also at risk of additional transaction fees, so whether you are buying or selling, keep an eye out for extraneous charges. To learn more about closing costs read my article "Things Your Mother Never Told You: Closing Costs".

Ignore The Gimmicks
Flashy TV ads do not mean a real estate agency is looking out for the seller's best interests. It usually means they want to hook buyers and sellers with a gimmick rather than providing real customer service. According to the National Association of REALTORS eighty percent of all homes sold are listed in the MLS and display a sign in the yard with a nationally or internationally recognizable name. Placing your home in the MLS assures you that hundreds of real estate agents will have the opportunity to view your property. Real estate agencies with national reputations work harder to maintain an image. Also, don't be fooled by regional agencies with large ad campaigns. The real estate agency's priority may be to get attention instead of getting you the best price for your home. Once you have learned all you can about selling your home and found a REALTOR you can trust you are on your way to an ideal sale. Selling your home doesn't have to be a nightmare, it can be a dream instead! When you work with the right real estate listing agent not only will your process be smoother, it will be one you can take to the bank.