What Is a Listing Agent? Why a Home Sale Hinges on Agent’s Expertise
If you’re getting ready to sell your home, finding a listing agent should be at the top of your to-do list. But just what is a listing agent? You might have a vague mental image of someone who plants a “For Sale” sign on your front lawn and shows potential buyers around your place, but there’s plenty more to it.
Here’s a primer on what a listing agent does, how the agent makes or breaks your sale, and how to find the right agent for you.
How listing agents help you price your home
How much is your home worth? That’s a hard question to answer and that’s where a good listing agent can help.
And the stakes are high: Price your home too low, and you could lose out on a lot of money. Price it too high, however, and the picture isn’t pretty either. While it may be tempting to work with an agent who says he can fetch a fortune for your home, overpricing may mean your home languishes on the market for months or even years—making buyers wonder if something’s wrong with your home and lowball you anyway. Listing agents have many duties and responsibilities, but at the top of the list is to properly price your home.
To do this, a listing agent will analyze the sales prices of comparable homes, or “comps,” in your area to see where yours should fit in, and advise you accordingly.
How listing agents help you sell your home
After you determine an asking price, a listing agent should provide you with a comprehensive marketing plan detailing how she’ll get your property sold. This plan should include the following:
- Recommendations for home improvements or home staging, if necessary. Yes, these alterations will cost you time and money, but they will improve your chances of a faster sale and higher asking price.
- Taking photos or hiring a photographer who will be able to highlight your home’s best features.
- Adding your home to the multiple listing service, where home buyers and their agents can view your property and decide if they’d like to come visit for a closer look.
- Advertising and holding open houses.
- Coordinating showings with prospective buyers.
How listings agents negotiate with buyers
Once you get an offer on your home, it’s the listing agent’s job to present it to you and advise if any haggling needs to be done. For instance, if you get an offer way below asking price, your knee-jerk reaction may be to refuse in a huff. But a listing agent might be able to negotiate with the buyers and bring that price up to a decent level—or, if the buyers truly can’t budge much, find other ways to sweeten the deal like a faster closing date or waived contingencies. These compromises can actually save you tens of thousands of dollars.
How much listing agents get paid
Listing agents don’t receive a dime unless your home gets sold. If it does, the typical agent commission is 6% of the price of your home (which is typically split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent). This price may seem substantial, but consider this: For every hour an agent spends with you, he will spend an average of nine hours behind the scenes working on your behalf. In other words, listings agents work hard to earn that commission and get your home sold. (Realtor.com)
The best advice I can give is to get pre-qualified, which is an easy step to get you one foot closer to your dream home. During pre-qualification, the bank will review your credit and income, then draft a cost analysis specific to your price range.
A pre-qualification letter will then be provided, which gives your realtor leverage in contract negotiations. It also gives you, the buyer, more credibility, which is essential in today’s multiple-offer environment, as countless buyers lose out simply because they aren’t pre-qualified or are offering too low of a bid.
Because of the combination of high residential values, historically low rates and a diminishing housing inventory, it is seriously recommended you contact your lender for a financial checkup.
Scenarios in which houses on the market receive multiple offers and subsequently sell above asking price have become the standard.
Contact your bank and give yourself the competitive advantage needed in today’s fast-paced real estate market. (Memphis Business Journal)
Let’s say you overhauled your kitchen or added a deck. It stands to reason that whatever money you paid for these improvements will be recouped in full once you sell—after all, your home’s new owners are inheriting all your hard work.
1. ‘Can you tell me more about the house?’
2. ‘What shape is this place in? Have there been any recent improvements?’
3. ‘Has there been a lot of interest in the property?’
4. ‘Why are they selling and when are they looking to close?’
5. ‘How much do utilities usually run?’
6. ‘How much traffic can one expect in this area?’
7. ‘What is the neighborhood like?’
When making over a property for sale, the main aim of the owner is to spruce the place up to get the highest possible return. While they may start out only wanting to update a few small things, as relevant questions are raised, more jobs are often added to the renovation bucket list.
Before the owner knows it, the makeover idea has snowballed into an extensive (and expensive) renovation. Big ticket items end up taking priority, which means the entire budget has been blown and they still may not have a property people want to buy.
So how do you know where to start and when to stop? Do you spend your makeover budget all in one spot, or do you spend a little bit on everything?
If everything in the house is passable and nothing stands out as being an absolute “must do”, start by getting the outside right, followed by the kitchen, interior living spaces, exterior living spaces and lastly, the bathroom.
People are often told that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. I’m not sure I agree. For example, the front exterior of your house is a very important element. It’s the picture potential buyers will see when scrolling on the internet or driving past. If they don’t like what they see in that initial photo, they may not investigate further or come for a look on inspection day.
The next most important area is the kitchen, but this could be a cosmetic update rather than a full-blown renovation. Try to prioritise what absolutely needs to be done so your costs don’t spiral out of control.
You also need to work out who your target buyer is and what they’re looking for in a house. For example, if it’s a family home, they might prefer a well-appointed en suite over a modern main bathroom, or be more focused on main living areas rather than bedrooms. Often they’re okay with everything not being perfect, so long as functional spaces work for them.
If you’re not sure who your ideal buyer is, contact a few real estate agents. Ask them for an estimate on what your property will sell for and give them a shopping list of what you intend to fix up. Discuss with your agent what your buyer will want out of a renovation.
Lastly, approach your renovation from a buyer’s perspective. The makeover you do for your buyer is entirely different to the one you would do for yourself, so keep this in mind.
30 Year Fixed 4%
30 Year Fixed FHA 4.625%
15 Year Fixed 3.375%
7/1 ARM 3.75%
30 Year Fixed Jumbo 4%
Keep your house clean at all times. Wash the dishes after eating. Make your bed every morning. Hang bathroom towels neatly after using them. A messy home will likely receive lower offers.
The best day of the week to put your home on the market is Tuesday with no showings until the weekend open house. This will create buyer excitement and anticipation which will likely produce a busy open house. Busy open house will create the “auction effect” (excited buyers seeing that other buyers are excited and in turn try to outbid each other). When buyers try to outbid each other, the seller often gets a higher price than expected
If your home is empty, consider staging it. The fact is that some bare rooms can look empty and sad. The impact of staging your home can be substantial. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged ones. If you’re on a limited budget and can’t afford the whole house to be staged, make sure at least the living room and kitchen are professionally furnished