By Tammie White
According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2017 Home Buyers and Sellers Profile, 74% of home sellers listed their house with the first agent they met. Spending the time to interview more than one agent is
critical, yet many sellers don't take the time to
do it. The key to hiring the best real estate agent to sell your Franklin TN home is knowing the right questions to ask.
It's not unusual for sellers to hire an agent they met at an open house, from a sign they saw in the neighborhood or a postcard they received in the mail. Very few of these sellers even bother to interview that agent for the job.
Understanding how to hire the best agent to sell your Franklin TN home is critical to your success!
Sellers often think that all real estate agents do the same things to sell houses. That couldn't be further from the truth.
How to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Agent
Asking great real estate questions goes a long way. Believe me, the following questions will make a less knowledgeable agent very uncomfortable. As a home seller, you will be paying this agent a lot of money. Why not be sure you're hiring an agent who consistently performs at a high level? There's a reason why some agents are successful year after year.
In most cases, it won't cost you any more to hire an exceptional agent versus a mediocre agent. The following questions will help you determine if you're hiring a pro or not. Just because an agent has been in the business for many years, does not necessarily make them an exceptional agent.
Interviewing real estate agents should not be taken lightly. Hiring the best agent will increase your opportunity to sell your Franklin home quickly for top dollar.
When you ask these questions, don't feel funny about taking notes. Record the agent's responses to these questions and then compare them to each other before choosing a real estate agent. Selling your home is likely the largest financial decision you will ever make, choosing the best agent is serious business.
Experience and Production
- How long have you been selling real estate?
Experience is crucial in our current real estate market. We are seeing new agents flooding the market.Many of these agents have never sold a home and don't have a clue how to sell homes. Sellers wrongly assume that all they need to do is put in in the multiple listing service and it will sell. That just isn't true. Experienced agents know how to attract the right buyers to your home. Once those buyers submit an offer, agents with experienced negotiation techniques can get a better price. Don't choose an agent with less experience because he may cut his commission. You may learn later that it cost you more than you saved.
- How many homes did you sell last year as a listing agent? As a buyer's agent?
This is an important question, but probably not for the reason you think. You obviously want an agent who has experience listing properties but an agent who works with more buyers than sellers is probably more relevant to the sale of your home. Agents who work with buyers more than sellers have proven they know how to attract buyers. You want an agent who attracts buyers. In all likelihood, these agents are using a personal website or blog that helps them rank highly in the search engines. That's exactly the type of agent you want to work with. We'll discuss this more below in the marketing section.
Either way, you want an agent who is selling properties. Who would you rather work with? An agent who sells 1 home a year? Or an agent who sells 20 homes a year? Don't be fooled by an agent who says they'll be able to give you more personalized service because they have more time. There's a reason why they only sold 1 house last year!
- As a listing agent, what was the average days on the market from the time you listed a home until you had an accepted contract?
This question is very important because it speaks directly to an agent's ability to correctly price their listings. You want this number to be lower than the average for your area. If homes in your neighborhood are selling in 25 days or less, you want an agent who can accomplish the same for you.
- As a listing agent, what is your sales price to list price ratio?
You want to hire an agent who gets close to 100% of list price. For example, last year we averaged 102% of list price. That's right. All our listings sold for more than asking price. In Franklin, you want an agent who is performing at a minimum of 98% or better of list price. This number may fluctuate for homes in excess of a million dollars and large acreage parcels. Know the numbers for your area and then compare the agent's sales price to list price ratio to those of your area.
- How many of your listings have expired in the last year? How many were withdrawn?
Expired listings are those homes that didn't sell prior to the listing contract expiring. If an agent has more homes that expired than they sold, then they probably don't know how to properly price or market a home. Withdrawn listings are those that sellers decided to take off the market because they didn't feel the agent was doing a good job. Once again, if an agent has an excessive number of expired and withdrawn listings, there may be reason for concern.
- Can you provide me with three recent sellers as references?
In all likelihood, agents are going to provide you with a hand-picked list of references. Rather than ask for references, ask for the names and addresses of the last three listings they sold. If they don't provide you with the seller's phone numbers, you can usually learn this information on your own and contact those sellers to learn about their experience with the agent.
Marketing and Advertising
- I have been told online marketing is critical to selling my home, how will you market my house online?
We would argue that this is probably the most important question you will ask a prospective agent.
A recent NAR survey found 92% of buyers begin their home search online. You want to hire a REALTOR® who has a good understanding of online marketing and the use of social media to sell a home. Just because you may not use social media, doesn't mean it's not important. You want your home to be found everywhere; that includes Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
- Do you have your own personal website? If so, does it rank highly in the search engines?
The best real estate agents have invested in their own website, not just a page on their broker's site. These websites should not only look good but rank highly in the search engines when you Google your neighborhood, city or state.
Agents who have highly-ranked websites attract more buyers. Buyers search for homes by using terms like Franklin TN homes for sale or Franklin TN real estate. This is especially important if you have a unique property to market. Buyers don't Google addresses. They don't know the addresses of properties to Google. You want someone who will use search terms relevant to selling your home. Examples include Franklin homes with guest houses or Franklin horse properties with barns or Franklin TN homes zoned for Franklin High School. These are the search terms buyers actually use, not a property address.
You want your house to have maximum exposure. An agent who understands Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knows how to rank on the first page of Google for search terms buyers most often use.
- Do you have a real estate blog to market your seller's listings? If so, does it rank highly on Google? Do you use your blog to attract buyers to your listings?
Like an agent's website, a blog is a great way to promote your property to buyers, especially buyers outside your local market. Some agents may use a multitude of blogging venues including ActiveRain.com, RealtyTimes.com, Google+, FindIt.com and BiggerPockets.com. The more venues they use the easier it's going to be for a buyer to find your property.
- Do you use social media in your marketing including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube?
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are becoming necessary tools for REALTORS®. Agents with a business page on Facebook have a great opportunity to promote listings and useful real estate tips that might attract buyers to your home. YouTube and Google+ are owned by Google and Google loves their own products. An agent who uses YouTube and Google+ to promote their listings usually rank on page one of Google very quickly.
- Do you use professional photography?
Ninety-two percent of buyers begin their home search online. Having professional photographs is a must in any market, including a seller's market. Don't let an agent tell you professional photography isn't required. The homes with the best online presence will get the most showings and higher offers. You want your house to stand out from the competition.
- Do you use video, virtual tours or drone photography to market your properties?
Videos and drone photography have become all the rage. Relocation buyers especially like to view videos and drone photography. Drone photography has become a must for sellers with large parcels of acreage. Buyers get a good view of your property prior to even visiting your home.
Preparing Your Home for Market and Staging
- Do you provide staging assistance to help me market my home?
Even the nicest homes can use a little bit of staging assistance. Real estate agents know what buyers like. It may have been a very long time since you last sold a house. Buyers are much more particular now. You don't want your tastes and styles to hinder a sale. A good agent will help you put your best foot forward to getting your home sold.
- Do you have a list of preferred contractors who can help me with any work that may need to be done prior to listing?
Every agent should have a comprehensive list of vendors they regularly use to help their sellers get their home ready to list. For example, we have a painter who does an excellent job with very reasonable prices. Many of our sellers have used his services.
Communication Through the Home Sale Process
- When a buyer calls about my house, will you be THE ONLY AGENT they speak with?
Sellers should recognize that the listing agent is rarely the agent who will actually bring a buyer to your home. If they've marketed your house well, buyers will alert their agents to your house. However, when a buyer drives by your house and calls, it only makes sense that the real estate agent you hired actually talk with the buyers. In Tennessee, this is difficult to achieve when you are listed with a large brokerage firm. Tennessee law requires that the brokerage phone number on a real estate sign be larger than the agent's phone number. As a result, a buyer may call the brokerage number and be directed to another agent in the agent's office. It's always best for a buyer to speak directly to the listing agent, when possible.
- How often will I hear from you once my property is listed? Do you have a feedback system?
This is probably the biggest complaint we hear about real estate agents. They list your property and you don't hear from them again. Be sure you know how often your agent will be in contact with you after listing. Will it be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly? Do they have a method to alert you to buyer's feedback. In our area, less than 50% of buyer's agents actually provide feedback. The best feedback you can get is an offer on your house.
Home Inspections and Appraisals
- Once my house is under contract, will you be present for home inspections and appraisals?
The very best agents will make sure you're represented during the entire process including the home inspections and appraisals. Some listing agents may opt to be present for a home inspection, some may not. A written report is usually provided to the sellers upon request but having your agent there may move things along quicker. However, it's an absolute must for the listing agent to meet the appraiser. They should provide the appraiser with comparable properties used to determine your listing price and the eventual sales price of your home. Oftentimes these comparable sales can be crucial to your property appraising.
Fees, Net Sheet and Contract Termination
- How much do you charge to list my property? How much of that commission is paid to the buyer's agent?
This question should be asked prior to signing a listing agreement. Commission fees are based upon a percentage of your sales price. In our area, usually between 6% to 8%. Commissions are negotiable, you may see some agents charge less and some charge more.
The buyer's agent is usually given half of that commission. So if the agreed upon commission is 6%, 3% goes to the listing brokerage and 3% goes to the selling brokerage. The selling agent or buyer's agent should always get at least the same compensation as the listing agent.
- Will my commission be less if an unrepresented buyer purchases my house?
An unrepresented buyer is someone who contacts your listing agent directly who doesn't have a buyer's agent representing them in the transaction. If you have negotiated a listing commission of 6% and a buyer who is unrepresented purchases your house, the listing agent is entitled to the full 6%. You want to know if they will discount this rate if the buyer doesn't have an agent.
- Will you prepare a Net Sheet so I can determine my profit?
Sellers are often confused about the fees they will be charged at closing. This can be eliminated by having the listing agent prepare a net sheet with all the fees you will be charged. The agent should prepare one for the listing appointment and then again once you've received an offer. Don't feel silly about asking questions about fees that appear on a net sheet. This is all necessary to educate you about the selling process. There may be fees you hadn't anticipated. You should know what these costs may be prior to listing.
- Will I be able to cancel my listing agreement prior to the expiration date?
All listing agreements must have an expiration date. Most agents will request a 6-month listing. Once again, this is negotiable. If most properties are selling in your area in less than 60 days, ask for a 90-day listing period. Acreage properties and homes in excess of a million dollars usually take longer to sell and may require a longer listing period.
At the very least, you want to know if you can cancel the listing agreement prior to expiration. Keep in mind, the best agents spend more time and money on marketing your property, especially if they are blogging about your home. In all fairness, they should be given at least 60 days to market your home. However, they should have some results from their efforts within the first 30 days. An agent who is confident they'll get the job done, won't usually question adding a clause for early termination of the listing agreement.
Questions You Didn't See Above
You may be surprised to see that we left off questions about pricing. There's a very good reason why we eliminated this question.
Sellers should not choose an agent based upon LIST PRICE ALONE. The listing price presented to you should be based upon the comparable home sales in your area. If an agent presents you with a price much higher than homes recently sold, it may be because they are trying to "buy the listing".
This term is used when an agent wants to list your house and they know your determining factor is price. They allow you to list at your price and then will ask for price reductions until they get your house down to a price they believe it will actually sell. The only problem is that your property will be on the market a lot longer and has a greater chance of selling for much less. Don't become a victim to this tactic. Make sure the pricing recommendation has evidence to support the listing price.
It takes time and effort to hire the best real estate agent to sell your Franklin TN home. Don't just hire the first agent who walks through your door. You may be disappointed with the result.
Using the questions above will give you a handle on the best agent for the job. Interviewing more than one agent is something every seller should do. This is the largest financial transaction you will ever make, don't leave the agent you hire to chance.
Hiring the best real estate agent to sell your Franklin TN home is critical!
Call Franklin Homes Realty LLC today at (615) 495-0752!
About Tammie White, Franklin TN REALTOR®
Tammie White is a REALTOR® and Principal Broker/Owner of Franklin Homes Realty LLC in Franklin TN. Tammie works with relocation buyers looking to purchase a home in Franklin and the surrounding Williamson County area. She understands the way buyers search for homes making her an invaluable asset to Franklin home sellers. Tammie's website, www.FranklinHomesRealty.com, has become the premier search tool for buyers moving to Franklin Tennessee. She has been writing a real estate blog since 2009 and has been quoted in various publications including the LA Times, Realtor.com, Skype.com, The Tennessean and Williamson Source. Trust your home sale to the company who has sold 100% of its listings since 2012. Call Franklin Homes Realty LLC today!