You want to sell your home, but you’re not very experienced with this sort of thing. So, you hire a real estate agent. That’s fine, but you had better know what you’re getting yourself into. The real estate market is confusing, and agents don’t always explain what’s going on and why. Some of the better ones do, and you want to hold on to them like they are your lifeboat on a sinking ship – because, in many cases, they are. Still, even when you find a good one, you should know what questions to ask and know how to set your expectations. Here are some tips for working with your real estate agent:
Understand How Your Agent Gets Paid
Very few agents get paid on salary. It’s just the nature of the business. With that said, your agent isn’t evil just because he works on commission. Yes, they must close a deal to get paid, and yes this does motivate some agents to make less than ethical decisions, but you can nullify this if you know it upfront.
Ask your agent what he expects to make on the deal if he sells you a home (or if he successfully sells your home). This sets the tone of your relationship with the agent. It’s unlikely that the agent will refuse to tell you. Moreover, once it’s out in the open, you can have a frank discussion about it.
You obviously want to pay the lowest possible fee while still making sure the agent is incentivized to go a good job for you. Ask him point blank: “how much can you save me on this deal?” Some agents won’t budge. Some can’t due to agency restrictions.
Get an Agency Agreement
If you’re buying a home, expect to sign a buyer’s agreement. It’s required. It creates a relationship between you and your real estate agent. It also explains the agent’s duties and responsibilities to you as a client.
If you’re selling your home, you should also sign an agreement, called a seller’s broker agreement. If you buy or sell a home, and you don’t have an agreement, don’t ask that the agent show you homes. You might find yourself in quite a quandary – “procuring cause.”
Basically, whoever caused you to buy or sell your home is the agent that gets the commission – a legally enforceable dispute. That procuring cause may end up costing you (as a seller) a lot of money if there’s ever a dispute. Even if you’re the buyer, it’s going to stall the closing process if another agent disputes who actually made the sale.
Set The Ground Rules
Set the ground rules before you even agree to work with an agent. Find out if you can switch agents if you become dissatisfied. Some agents won’t allow you to do this – ditch them. Find an agent who is willing to work for your business and make sure you’re satisfied.
Some agents will go so far as to pick you up at your home when showing you houses for sale. Some don’t. Make sure you know the scoop before you agree to work with him. You don’t want to sit there waiting for your agent on your doorstep while she’s on her way to the first home.
Let your agent know how you want to communicate – via email, phone, or mail or a combination of the three. Finally, set realistic goals as to when you would like to close the deal and move into your new home.
About the Author: Tom Schooley is a property investor that has developed a keen eye for choosing agents. His articles mainly appear on property investment blogs and websites.
Bottom line is, if you are thinking about selling a house, or buying one, you should be engaging a real estate agent. If you need help finding a real estate agent, websites like sundaybell.com can certainly help by allowing you to interview real estate agents, provide you tips on the types of questions you should be asking and more. See for yourself how a few minutes up-front can save you both time and money in the long run…oh, and by the way, it’s a free service so why not give it a try.