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Real Estate Advice: How to Hire a Real Estate Agent

One of the most important decisions a home seller has to make is to decide who will best represent their home on the market. Need some real estate advice? If you plan on using a real estate agent the question then becomes which one do you choose?

How to Choose the Right

We recently had Facebook Fan, Tara N. ask for some real estate advice on this very topic. She says, they didn’t know how to pick a real estate agent and they didn’t have any referrals to narrow down the search. Tara was looking for someone who would understand her unique property and for agent that would work quickly to find the best deal. Here is her entire Facebook message:

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Well, as I always say, I’m here to help my Facebook community and I certainly don’t want her to feel overwhelmed with this process. Without doing a lot of research it is pretty easy to see that some people make horrible choices when it comes to picking a real estate agent to work with. Whether you are buying or selling a home the Realtor you choose to work with can have a tremendous influence on the success of the transaction. In order to get a better understanding of how to hire a real estate agent we reached out to Bill Gassett a top real estate agent in Grafton MA. Bill has been selling homes for the past twenty nine years and has established a great reputation as an agent people can count on. I thought he would make an excellent choice to consult with on this important topic. I asked Bill how someone should pick a Realtor and this is what he told me.

“Tori first let me say thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak with your readers. I know you have a very successful business of helping people get their homes sold. Of course I take the same pride in my work. Your question is a very good one. Throughout my career I have seen numerous people make poor decisions when it comes to choosing a real estate agent. Frankly, I think part of the problem is many agents do not do enough to distinguish themselves from others. If everyone has the impression that all Realtors do the same thing to sell a home then there is not going to be a lot of effort put into making the right choice.

This is not to say that everyone does not take the time to do an extensive interview. There are some who actually do but they don’t always know the right questions to ask. They instead rely on things like the agents personality or do I like this person. While these things are important they are not the most important. When selling a home it is smart to think about it as a business transaction not a popularity contest. Choosing the best agent should consist of things like who is the best marketer, negotiator and communicator. Not who I could picture myself hanging out with.

The focus should be on the agents track record. What is their performance in good markets and bad? Are they the same or radically different? You want an agent who is a consistent producer. Some of the key questions you should ask when hiring a real estate agent are:

  • How many homes did you sell last year?
  • What was the average days on the market?
  • What was the original list price to sale price ratio?

All of these questions show what an agent is made of. You want an agent who is honest NOT someone who tells you what you want to hear. In the real estate industry there are tons of Realtors who will tell sellers what they want to hear just to get them to sign on the dotted line. Once under contract the agent will start working on getting price reductions. As hard as it is to believe there are some agents who don’t care at all what the home is listed at. These intention of these agents is not to sell the home but use it as a feeding station to get buyer leads they can sell elsewhere. This of course is not the kind of agent you want!

The key to making a successful choice is really taking the time to do your home work. Instead of getting references from the agent find out 3 homes they sold last year and ask them for the contact information. This way the agent is not hand picking people they know will give them rave reviews.”

Be sure to use this valuable real estate advice from Bill, as you begin the hunt for your next real estate agent. We want you to be able to put your best foot forward on the market. That requires having not only the best representation possible, but the ability to have a home buyers will actually want. Grab our home seller guide here or click on the image below and avoid having your listing linger on the market– we offer some clever solutions for you to implement.

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Have a real estate or home staging question, go ahead ask in the comments section below. I’m interested in hearing from you and to learn more about your home selling process.

Happy Selling,

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49 Comments

  1. Tori says:

    thank you Bill for your advice on this topic

  2. Kare Wilson says:

    Tori,

    I am a professional organizer in Los Angeles. I want to network with real estate agents as I believe we can help each other. Many people who are moving, especially downsizing, don’t know where to start. I can consult with them on moving, packing, organizing, etc. I am especially happy to work with senior citizens. The real estate agent in return has a service to recommend to their clients. I see it as a win-win.

    How do I go about connecting with the right LA real estate agents?

    Karen Wilson
    http://www.iluvorganizing.com

    • tori says:

      Karen you may want to try and team up with stagers in the area along with agents. Agents are easy to find because they have to advertise themselves to get business. Try getting a meeting at a few of their offices or join the real estate associations in your area and start networking like a mad woman. Downsizing and getting organized is definitely a big issue. If you want email me and I’ll try to help with a few of my connections. tori@toritoth.com

  3. Bill Gassett says:

    My pleasure Tori! Thanks for having me share how to hire a real estate agent you will love!

  4. Jeff Madison says:

    I appreciate your tip on focusing on a real estate agent’s track record in an interview. It would seem that finding out about their performance in both good and bad markets would be much more important than their personal charm. My wife and I are considering selling our house and when we interview a realtor we’ll be sure to go in depth about their sales records.

    • tori says:

      thank you Jeff yes, personal charm will only get you so far an agent needs to know what they’re actually doing. Good luck and I hope you come back soon to get your home prepared for sale. If you have any questions I’m here to help.

  5. That is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very precise information… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  6. Nash Rich says:

    I can understand of the client on here. No one wants time to be wasted and to have to rely on people who take their time. I’m a big believer in doing research and really spending the time find the right person. It’s more work, but it pays off when the agent is working hard for you.

    • tori says:

      yes, this is so true– you need to find someone who won’t waste your time and do what’s best for the sale.

  7. Sarah Smith says:

    My husband and I are selling our house and are hoping to find a realtor. Thanks for the advice about how you should focus on the agents track record in both good and bad times. Hopefully, we can get a someone that can sell our house quickly.

  8. Luke Smith says:

    I want to buy a new house someday and I want a real estate agent that knows their stuff. I like these questions to ask agents, like how many houses did they sell last year. That tells me how hard of a worker they are, and if I want to hire them.

  9. I really like all of your tips, thank you, Bill. I especially like that you pointed out for people to do their homework before buying. My husband and I have actually been looking for a house for the past few weeks, and we’ve found nothing. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to find a house soon because my parents are driving me crazy.

  10. I really like how you said to focus on the agent’s track record. Understanding the success that an agent has had in the past can help you understand what kind of job they’re going to do in the future. Especially if they’ve had success in difficult markets, it would make sense you can trust they’re going to help you out regardless of your circumstances. Overall, I felt like a lot of this was really great advice. Thanks for sharing!

    • tori says:

      It’s very important to know their success…and if they don’t know their own success then they should not qualify to represent you.

  11. I really like that idea of asking a real estate agent how many homes they sold last year. I can see how that could be a good indicator of how well the real estate agent can sell. I’ll have to remember to ask the questions that you suggested the next time that I work with a real estate agent. Thanks for the advice!

  12. My wife and I are looking to buy a home and the tips on hiring a real estate agent were very helpful. This is our first time purchase a house we didn’t know what things to look for. Track record is something that can tell us a lot about the agent. We will definitely make that an important part of our search.

  13. I am hoping to sell my home in the near future so I have been researching this subject a lot. My number one stress right now is finding a reputable real estate agent. Because as you said, the success in selling your home has a lot to do with the agent! This is going to be a big decision, so I’m glad I came across your article.

  14. My husband and I are just starting the process of selling our home. We really need to hire a real estate agent, and I like the questions you put down that we can ask potential agents. It’s a good idea to ask them how many houses they have sold, and how often they are out in the market. I think that would give you a good idea of who the best option is.

  15. Maggie Allen says:

    I really like your question for the real estate agent about how many homes they sold last year. That’s a really great way to see just how successful they are at their job. However, it might also be good to know how many homes they listed in total as well. That would show you the exact percentage of homes they successfully sold.

  16. Alise Harper says:

    I am looking at selling my first house. I like how you mentioned when looking for a real estate agent to ask about their track record. I think this is important because asking about the past houses will determine their experience and ability to sell houses. I will definitely look into the agents track record before choosing one. Thanks for the information!

  17. Allsopp says:

    Take all the things that make your home “your” personal sanctuary (e.g., family photos, religious décor and kitschy memorabilia), pack them up and put them in storage. Buyers want to visualize your house being their house – and it’s difficult for them to do that with all your personal items marking the territory as yours.

  18. Geoff Ramsey says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s surprising how many people don’t know what to look for in a good agent. And the questions you listed are exactly what a potential customer needs to be asking. Sales numbers and days on market are huge indicators, especially when compared to other realtors in the area.

    Again, thanks for sharing this article. I appreciate it.

  19. Jalu Sakti says:

    I think it’s a great idea to do an interview with your potential real estate agent! It’s true that a lot of people just go by their gut instinct, but it would be so helpful to see solid statistics for the agent and really be able to see their track record of successful sales. My wife and I are going to be looking for a house next year; we will definitely try this out when it comes time to find an agent.

  20. Jen Pack says:

    I have heard lots of friends suggest that my husband and I hire a real estate agent to help us sell our home, so I really appreciate this information on how to choose the best one. I like how you point out that it is important to focus primarily on their track record. I imagine that it would also help to pick someone who has a personality that you can get along well with.

    • tori says:

      yes, personality and communication is also important. Make sure that they’re doing all they can get your home sold quickly. If you need any help along the way, please let me know. Good luck on the sales process.

  21. Wonderful article. Thank you.

    Looking forward to more posts.

  22. I have alot of clients that have said the same thing also. I think it is helpful.

  23. Thanks for sharing advice about real estate agents.

  24. Patrick says:

    A lot of people just jump right in without actually thinking about this stuff.

  25. What a beautiful website… I absolutely love this. Have ben trying to get some of these elements on my site Sarah Williams Realty

    • tori says:

      well, Sarah if you need any help or want to use my staging advice, please feel free to do so, just make sure your credit it or link back to us. Let me know if you need some help. Thanks.

  26. Cindy Tesler says:

    I agree that not too many real estate agents do not do enough to distinguish themselves from others. You go on to mention that if everyone has the impression that all real estate agents do the same thing to sell a home then there is not going to be a lot of effort into finding one. I think it’s important to find a real estate agent that has sold a couple of homes in your area, and speak to those references to see how they liked working with that realtor.

  27. Baxter Abel says:

    I really like your tip to find out three homes a real estate agent sold within the last year and get the former clients contact information in order to see how to liked working with the real estate agent. My mom recently bought a new house and they loved the real estate agent they worked with; she found the real estate agent because of the successful deals the agent closed within the past year! Thanks for the tips, I’ll be sure to pass them along the next time someone close to me is looking for a real estate agent.

  28. Scott says:

    Very informative article. I had never even thought about the importance of asking how many homes the realtor sold last year. I can understand why knowing the track record and history of the realtor could help you in choosing someone to represent you. I think that asking your family and friends could be helpful in selecting someone that will be represent you and your home.

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