Most people put more research into buying a TV or Refrigerator than they do looking for a Realtor. Hello! Your home is pretty expensive. Perhaps, long ago, housing was a very simple industry, but those days are long gone. When you sell a home, you have a few goals. To sell it for as much as is practical, to sell it at an appropriate time frame, and most importantly, to make sure that you are informed about various choices that you'll need to make along the way. There are always choices! Choices about how high to list, what day to list, what month to list, when to do open houses, when to do price changes, how to choose between multiple offers, and what to do during the home inspection. The right real estate agent will give you confidence - and satisfaction - about those choices, and make what is a difficult process that much easier. OK! So now we know why, but how do we choose?

Research On-Line

If you haven't noticed, real-estate marketing has moved to the internet. At this point, that should surprise no one. Your agent should be tech savvy, (more on that below), and one way to find out is to

Don't gamble with your Home Sale.  Interview

Agents and Make sure they Stack up.

research local agents on-line. Most agents do not have very good on-line presences, but some have made it a priority. A good place to start would be Trulia or Zillow, where most agents are rated by stars and have reviews - just like Amazon! Agents that care about their on-line profiles are more likely to be tech savvy, and understand what it takes to market a home today.

Ask Friends

Friends are also a good source of advice. Many times, your friends might say, "Well don't use, Mrs. X", and that would be good information to have. Knowing who was happy after there transaction is a good indicator of how you will feel after it is all done.

Schedule Interviews

Hopefully, you were able to find a few local agents that you can now call and interview. Most agents want to see your home and meet you, to find out your needs and how easy or hard your home will be to sell. Once you've scheduled them, try to keep all the appointments. I recommend you call at least 3, but 5 is good too.


Establish Your Agents Credentials

There are some basic questions to answer here. How many houses do you sell a year? Are you full-time? How many years have you been selling houses? Obviously, you want to avoid agents that do not sell very many houses. Selling a 50 houses a year is not necessarily best either - see below about getting lost in the shuffle - but at the very least you want someone who is not learning on the job. Believe me, seasoned agents will sound and feel very different when you're asking the above questions. Also, was your agent on-time? Did they dress appropriately? Are they pushy? Look for clues as to how important they see you.

Ask What You Need - And What They Offer

Although it can be hard to ask for feedback on your home, and what needs to be done, I advise you to do just that. If three agents mention the same things, those things are likely to be important. Many sellers are surprised when I start giving feedback on the home - many assume things to be important that are not, and vice versa. This is a great time to educate yourself about what buyers are looking for when they will be visiting your home.  If your home needs paint, does the agent know a painter?  A plumber? A stager?  A property manger? Many sellers have specific needs, your agent should be equipped to assist with them.

Look at One of Their listings On-line

This step is hugely important. Ask about a current listing, and then go look it up on-line. Are the pictures really crisp and clear? Is there a virtual tour? A floor plan? Are their misspellings in the description?

Floor plans are a sign of an agent willing to go the

extra mile when marketing your home.

This is the listing that will drive people to your home, and an agent who doesn't have time to put together a good listing probably won't spend much time on yours. A poor listing can cost you thousands of dollars! So make sure you check.

Make Sure you Don't Get Lost in The Shuffle

The bigger agents in any area - if they sell a lot of houses - will really hammer this point home.  There is little doubt they can sell your home, but still you want it be a good process. A single person can rarely sell more than 20 homes a year - they generally need administrative staff, processes, checklists and the like. If you have a bigger agent, make sure these things are in place, otherwise, you could get lost in the shuffle. Also, bigger agents often take more time off - do they have coverage when they are on vacation? Do they have a trip planned right when you want to list? And lastly, if you're going to be the smallest listing in the agents pile, you are more likely to get substandard service. Agents spend more time with owners of expensive homes - and they are compensated to do so - but there are plenty of good agents who aren't so busy that can make sure you get the attention you deserve.

Are they Tech Savvy?

I've mentioned before, and it is worth repeating. Tech Savvy agents are a must in today's sales world. How can you tell? The best agents will have an active Facebook page, a functioning website, and really a blog or newsletter. These things are crucial in today's connected world, to make sure your home makes the biggest impact. Oddly enough, may of the big franchises are WAY behind the curve when it comes to internet advertising, so don't assume that the big branded name is helping their agents become tech players.

Personality Fit is Crucial

Not every transaction is easy, and when the tough decisions come, you need someone in your corner that you feel good sharing with. Even when things are good, the decision can be hard. If you don't like the person you are dealing with, it is hard to make the transaction work. Also, if you don't like them, other agents - and other buyers - might also get the same *ick* feeling, and that's not good for your sales process. This is a service business, but sadly, many agents are not good at the customer service part. Don't get stuck with someone you can't stand, just because you think they are good at selling homes! There are plenty of agents out there.

Ask What Happens When the Going Gets Tough

Many agents can tell you that your home will sell right away, you'll have multiple offers. All good news. But guess what? Most houses Don't sell right away. So then what happens? What's the back up plan? Ask your agents in interviews what they do when things don't sell. How they answer will tell you a lot about how comfortable they are marketing your home.

Check Prices

There are prices you need to check in your interviews. The price they charge (there is no standard rate, so ask!), and the price they want to put on your house. For most homeowners, this is the most pressing question, but as you can see, it is far from the only one. It is common for most real estate

Multiple price opinions will help

you understand where your home

fits in the marketplace.



agents to take notes, go back to the office and work on a price opinion. Some houses are easy enough to do when you are walking around, but most benefit from careful study. Many agents prefer to come back and show you comparable homes, what they sold for, to help you understand where they are coming from. It is certainly something you want to do if you are getting vastly different prices. Also, beware of agents who are "buying the listing". "Buying" a listing is when an agent suggests the highest price to get the home under contract, and then when it doesn't sell, hammer on you do to price changes. What might that look like? Well if you had four agents in, and they suggest prices of 490, 500, 500, 505, and 530, it is very likely that the 530 is well above market, and your home won't sell. Further, it is likely that the other agents will either defend their prices or list it at 530 - for a time - but with the expectation that if it doesn't sell, you'll bring the price down to where you feel it should be marketed.



Things Not to do


A word about Friends and Relatives

You may have a friend or relative who sell homes. Many people - instead of interviewing agents - work with the friend or relative on the assumption that their home is an easy sale, and they can help their friend. It is OK to work with an agent you know socially, but you should STILL interview them and others. You may find that the relative is a great agent - but doesn't know your area. Or you may find that the friend just does real estate on the side, and has very little experience. But you won't know unless you ask, and you should most definitely ask! You don't want to ruin a relationship because you didn't ask, and if your house doesn't sell, and you are feeling frustrate and confused, that relationship will be tested for sure.  Also, many friends and relatives may not be able to tell you the hard truth about your home, as they don't want to offend you. That's shows they are nice people, but it won't help you when the time comes.


Don't Believe Statements that Are Highly Questionable

If someone says, "I can get you 25,000 more than anyone else", I would consider that highly questionable. Heck if someone could do that, wouldn't everyone use that person? I'd use them! (Who can't use another 25K?). Some agents come with a lot of bravado and bluster. Our job, however, is to market the home, and get people in to see it. Selling the home is really a function of price, presentation, and the market in general. Navigating that nexus is what good agents do - but there aren't a lot of fast and easy answer for most houses. I often say, poor marketing will cost you money, but great marketing isn't likely to get you premium. It is however, going to help make sure you get the maximum you can in your local market, and that's what we're trying to do.


Make Assumptions about Firms

Real Estate Firms are the collective sum of the agents who work there, but agents are really their own business. Once you sign a contract with an agent, they are your only point of contact. Your transaction will go as well - or as poorly - as the agent who represents you. Don't expect the "firm" to bail them out, that's not how it works, and it won't happen. You can't even assume that the agents at larger firms are all well trained! While the larger franchises have plenty of training resources, few agents avail themselves of training, and real estate is sort of a hands-on training business anyway. You can't teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar, after all.

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About Matt Heisler

Matt Heisler is a real-estate professional and owner of this website. He has been selling homes in MA for buyers and sellers for over 20 years. He is an expert in foreclosure purchases, short-sale purchases, short-sale sales, buy and hold investing, fix and flip investing, and of course traditional residential home sales. He is happy to take questions as they pertain to real estate on Title V, Radon, Termites, Sump Pumps, Roofs, Foundations, Wells, Septic Systems, Cash-Flow, Staging, and a host of other housing issues. As a Vanderbilt University alumnus, he is proud to serve his local community.

*All information is posted in good faith and is assumed to be reliable, but may rely on third party information sources.