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Listing Agent as a strategy in a Buyers’ Market Print E-mail
Monday, 18 September 2006

As a growing number of housing markets shift into low gear, sellers are beginning to find their backs against the wall.  Home prices are falling, sales are stalling and buyers are calling for concessions.   Good help really isn't hard to find, provided you take care to hire a real estate agent best suited for you, the market and the home you want to sell.

GMAC Real Estate supplied a list of tips for successful real estate agent selection and we asked agents from other companies and other real estate professionals to chime in with suggestions you may not always get.

Interview several or more full-time, licensed, local and national trade-group affiliated real estate agents. Full-time status means more time to spend on your listing. Licensing and trade group affiliation gives you layers of legal, ethical and standards-of-practice protection, as well as a commitment to the job. None of the designations guarantees success, but make for a solid foundation in professionalism.

While full-time status is generally accepted as a better deal than part-time status, especially when the market calls for that extra effort, there is some disagreement over the level of experience or accomplishment your agent should have.

While agents with less experience, clients and accomplishments can argue convincingly they've got more time for you and your listing, top producers will point to their accomplishments as a tangible you can bank on.

Interview each agent just as you would be interviewed for a job and ask for documented proof of their achievements. Ask to speak with past clients, happy and unhappy. If they won't give you at least one unhappy client, one client who canceled a listing or one client who, for some reason, moved on, find an agent who will. There is no perfect agent.

Consider an agent familiar with your neighborhood and its market conditions past and present, but don't overlook agents with broader market experience.
"I think it's important to get someone local and who knows the area and is close enough to easily service the listing, but I think narrowing it to the neighborhood may be going too far in that direction," Handy said.

Interview agents who offer comparative market analysis (CMA) -- a financial breakdown of recently sold and currently listed properties similar to yours in location, floorplan, square footage and other details. That assures you you'll get a competitive price tag placed on your home rather than a pie-in-the-sky price or a low-baller looking to lure multiple offers.

To determine how well an agent's CMA system works ask the agent to share their list price vs. sales price percentage against the market average. To help determine how effective their marketing program is ask for their listings' average days on the market compared to the market average.

Learn and compare how your home will be marketed online and off. Most home buyers today use the Internet in any real estate transaction.
Some suggest "Googling" prospective hires for some insight on their marketing efforts.

Don't forget the "click factor." You need a real estate agent whose personality clicks with yours in a symbiotic relationship that allows constructive criticism, debate and cajoling. Your listing agent is the expert, but you are the boss handing out the paycheck. You want an employee with whom you enjoy working, but who can also put his or her ego aside to get the job done based on mutual respect and agreement.
That means give and take.

Be prepared to argue with your agent, but insist that the agent argue back. Fight over the price until you are both satisfied. Request the agent will let you out of the agreement with 30 days notice if things are not going well. Be prepared to pay for (special) advertising you ask for. Don't expect the agent to put your tract home in the Wall Street Journal unless you agree to pay the advertising bill.

Edwina Baniqued


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