If you're looking to sell your house, you'll want to hire an amazing listing agent to help—and there are certain questions to ask a real estate agent to pinpoint the right professional for you. And it's smart to be picky! A great Realtor® can help sell your house fast, and for more money. Pick wrong, and your listing might languish, then the lowballing bargain hunters come circling—it's not pretty.
Not sure where to get started? You can search for agents in your area with online tools, where you can also read real estate agent reviews from previous clients. From there, you'll want to call or meet with a few you like and probe further.
Here are some questions to ask a real estate agent when selling your house.
1. What are your credentials?
At the least, your agent should have a state license and belong to the local real estate trade association, because this means your agent will have access to the multiple listing service, or MLS, and can list your home far and wide. But you might want to look further and find someone who's a member of the National Association of Realtors®, which requires additional training and adherence to a code of ethics.
2. How many home sales did you close last year?
While an agent's past performance doesn’t guarantee a quick sale, a track record of success can at least give you the assurance that this professional knows what she's doing. Also inquire about the price range for the homes the agent has sold, because you ideally want someone who knows what features will be valued by buyers in your income bracket.
3. Do you specialize in this neighborhood?
Having a local expert can be a huge advantage because she'll know about any upcoming developments, plus plans for stores or other amenities that might affect the value of your home.
"You want to know that your agent understands the market for your neighborhood right now," says Ashlie Roberson, a New York City–based agent at Triplemint. She also advises sellers to inquire about the agent’s favorite places in the area.
"Your agent needs to be able to not only sell your house, but your neighborhood."
4. How do you arrive at the listing price?
Few things are as important to a seller as the money conversation, and your agent’s ability to land on a listing price that is appropriate for the market. A house that is priced too high will languish, eventually turning off potential buyers; but a home priced too low might leave money on the table. Make sure your agent is knowledgeable about the market and what other similar houses have recently sold for to help you arrive at the right price.
5. Whom will I be working with?
You want to find out if you will be working with one specific real estate agent or a member of the agent’s team. There are pros and cons for each.
"Having a team of agents makes accommodating showings easier, but specific requests made by the seller can get lost among a big team," says JoAnn Schwimmer, associate broker and certified relocation professional with DJK Residential in New York City.
6. How much will selling my house cost?
Know upfront about the costs you’ll be paying such as broker’s commission, closing fees, and anything else so you can plan accordingly—and compare from one agent to the next.
7. What is your sales plan?
An agent should have a written plan that identifies where and how she will market your house, from listing services to open houses to social media.
"Don’t let them just rely on mailers," says Roberson. She advises using an agent who has the capability to provide professional photography, a custom website, and even video, if appropriate.
"Marketing is the key to a successful sale," she says.
8. What should I do to get my house ready?
See what their advice is for necessary repairs or upgrades or what hacks they might suggest for budget-friendly but impactful improvements. Find out if they suggest staging services or just a good cleaning and declutter.
Also find out if an agent is willing to be accommodating to your schedule and what days and times she prefers to show houses.
9. How will we communicate?
If you’re a texter and your agent prefers lengthy phone calls, that could be a problem. Likewise, you might prefer the personal touch of a call over an email. Knowing the method and frequency of communication can be important.
10. How long will the process take?
While no agent can guarantee how fast the sale itself will go, they should be able to give a ballpark range on how long it will take to sell your house. The national average is 65 days, but it depends greatly on where you live.