A real estate agent that works on the sellers behalf. The listing agent has a contractual and fiduciary duty to the seller and will try to secure the highest price for their home during negotiations. These agents are responsible for marketing the home to the greatest number of people in an effort to secure offers which will ultimately result in a sale.
Listing agents work under the supervision of real estate brokers. Listing agents will generally make a listing presentation to the prospective client in which they will discuss their experience, their company and its philosophy, and how they will market the home. Once the seller has decided which listing agent to work with the sales process begins. The listing agent will have the seller enter into a listing agreement with the real estate broker with whom the listing agent is affiliated. The listing agreement will set forth the terms and conditions of the listing.
Once the listing agreement is entered into, the listing agent should:
- Discuss the needed repairs and maintenance to the home
- Discuss with homeowners how to effectively stage the home or recommend home staging companies
- Place a sign in the yard (if allowed)
- Place a lockbox on the door
- Do a comparative market analysis of similar properties to help determine price
- Give sellers an informed opinion about pricing the home and help them determine a list price
- Take or arrange to have photos of the home taken
- Enter the listing into the multiple listing services
- Design, develop, and distribute marketing materials (brochures, flyers, websites)
- Conduct open houses
- Present feedback to sellers on any showing activity at the home
- Present offers to sellers
- Negotiate with buyers agent on sellers behalf once a preferred offer is identified
- Maintain communication with buyers agent about contract contingency periods
- Attend the closing as the brokers representative and advocate for the seller
While not every listing agent will follow each step listed above on each listing, most traditional (full service) listing agents’ efforts go far beyond those listed.
Finding the Best Listing Agent
When a homeowner begins their search for a listing agent:
- They should ask friends and family for referrals of people they have worked with in the past on their own home sales
- They should ask for referrals from homeowners in their subdivisions who have had recent home sales
- They should do a web search to see who the agents are and what each agent’s website has to offer
- The homeowner then should arrange to interview several (more than 2) agents in order to ascertain the best agent for the job
Interviewing Agents to List Your Home
When interviewing agents to list your home there are several questions they should be able to answer, and several things you should consider such as:
1) How much experience does the agent have?
Experienced agents bring one important thing to the table that new agents don’t, EXPERIENCE! More often than not an experienced agent (one who has been actively licensed for at least three (3) years full time) will have encountered problems that arise in most real estate transactions that will cause much angst for homeowners. This problem though will just be part of the normal routine for an experienced agent. New agents however, should not automatically be dismissed from the opportunity to win your listing because new agents often will have experienced agents and their broker with whom they are free to consult with should they have a question about how to deal with an aspect of your listing. New agents may also have more time to devote to your listing because they do not have as many clients.
2) Does the agent work only with sellers?
Some agents who work as part of a team will only list homes, (work with sellers), while someone on their team works with only buyers, and another member of their team works to coordinate the closing, etc. It is important to know if your agent is going to be doing all these jobs or if they have the support of a team behind them.
3) How often will the agent communicate with you and by what means?
This should be left completely up to you the homeowner. Every good agent will ask you what the preferred means of communication is for you and the agent should be willing to abide by that request. Whether it is text, email, or phone calls the agent should be willing to communicate often with you especially when they receive feedback about your home from other agents and their clients. Your responsibility as the homeowner is to also communicate with your agent via your preferred method.
4) How does the agent market their listings?
Do they only place a sign in the yard? Do they use email blasts, individual listing websites, brochures, flyers, open houses, and print media? A good agent will come to the listing interview prepared to answer this question before you ask it. Successful agents will place your listing in the local multiple listing services and on national websites in order to gain maximum exposure for your home. Agents may also come to the interview with a sample flyer they have prepared for your listing.
5) What type of social media presence does the agent have?
Technologically savvy agents have become the rule rather than the exception in today’s real estate environment. A good agent will have a personal website, a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and will also have your homes listing on their company website.
6) How will the agent determine the best list price for your home? What will their preliminary plan be if your home doesn’t get any offers within a certain timeframe?
Successful agents will do a comparative market analysis of the homes actively listed for sale, the homes that have sold recently in your area, and the homes that are pending sale currently (if this information is available) to determine the best list price to place on your home. When determining the list price the agent will examine homes that most closely resemble yours in size, construction, condition and amenities. While the homebuyer can ask any price they wish for their home it is wise to review the comparative market analysis with the agent to determine why they have recommended a particular list price. At the agent interview the homeowner should discuss with the agent if they have ever had a home that was not being shown or one that was not receiving any offers and if so how did they solve the problem? A qualified listing agent will have encountered these problems before and will have solutions to share should they encounter this with your listing. If your home isn’t being shown or if it isn’t receiving any offers the agent should be prepared to discuss with you the options of lowering the list price or offering other incentives to perspective buyers.
7) What are your fees?
Agents should be comfortable discussing their fees with you and should be able to provide you with satisfactory examples of what makes their service, as opposed to their competitors, valuable to you. In traditional real estate transactions the seller pays the real estate broker’s commissions and the brokers pay a percentage of these commissions to their respective real estate agents as per their affiliation agreements.
- It must be noted that real estate fees are negotiable and consumers are encouraged to negotiate for a lower rate if they are not satisfied with the percentage for service that they are quoted by an agent. In many cases the agent is allowed by their broker to discount their own percentage of the fee as long as the broker is able to receive a certain flat fee from the transaction. Generally the fee the seller is paying to the listing real estate broker will be split (co-opted) with the selling broker (the broker whose agent secures a buyer for the listing). Transaction or flat fee services are generally based according to the services you ask the companies to perform for you or assist you with such as filling out contract stipulations etc. You should also negotiate fees with transaction based companies if you feel the ones presented to you are unreasonable. Brokers are not allowed to collude with one another to set commission rates or fix prices. This practice would break antitrust laws, which is a punishable offense
- Good successful listing agents should be good communicators who are friendly, honest and trustworthy. They also need to be good negotiators who are available by text, email or phone. Additionally, they should be someone you believe is capable of doing the best job for you in the shortest amount of time while achieving the maximum amount of money for your home. In general, when choosing a listing agent it is important to find someone who you are comfortable with, and who you believe has your best interests at heart.
When starting a home search one question seems to stand out in peoples’ minds more often than any other, why should I pay someone to show me houses?
- I’ll just find some I like on the internet and drive by and look at them.
- If there is an agent around they can help me, or I can call and get information about the house from the sign in the yard.
- The internet ads have all the information I need about the house I’m interested in.
- I don’t have the extra money to give some real estate agent who isn’t going to do anything to help me anyway!
Sound familiar? You probably have had these thoughts go through your mind at least a couple of times. This seems to be the prevailing thought among a lot of homebuyers in this country. If you know nothing about the market, this could be a costly MISTAKE!!! Good Relators Know there Market.
Whether you are deciding to take that all important leap into first time homeownership or you just need to modify your current living situation, one of the most important things you should do is evaluate, and Know how much time you have to put into your home search.