Selling a house is often stressful and challenging. Luckily, a real estate seller’s agent can help provide services that advise and guide the seller from listing a property and throughout the process of selling a home.
What is a listing agent?
A listing agent carries out various duties such as marketing, agent management, and staging advice. While the seller is paying the agent a commission to sell the home, the agent is also bound by the laws of the state to do their best to sell their client’s property.
A listing agent (also referred to as a seller’s agent), is a broker or real estate agent that represents the seller in a property transaction. It is necessary for the listing agent to have an active real estate license in the state of the property they are selling.
How are listing agents different from real estate agents?
Listing agents are simply agents on one particular side of the transaction, the seller’s side. So in other words, listing or seller’s agents support the seller. Buyer’s agents support the buyer. Both types of agents are real estate agents and are often necessary to complete a real estate transaction.
What listing agents do
- Price your home – Your seller’s agent should help you determine at what price to list your home. To recommend a price your seller’s agent should look at comparable homes, market trends, and your specific home’s location and improvements.
- Prepare your home – A high-quality seller’s agent will make you aware of what the property needs to make sure it gets the best price. Your agent should also give you tips on staging your house so it looks its best when buyers are touring the property.
- Devise a plan – It is essential to know how your listing agent is going to make your property stand out and increase the number of showings on your home. They should have a plan for determining buyer prospects and how to market to them effectively. They should also be aware of the seller’s personal finances in the event repairs or upgrades are recommended.
- Arrange professional photography – Almost 90 percent of buyers searching for properties online make a decision based on pictures. It is essential for seller’s agents to arrange for professional photography so they can properly market your home.
- Communicate regularly – Your real estate agent should prepare a report for the sellers each week to make them aware of everything they are doing to market and sell the property.
- Negotiate – The listing agent should be a fierce negotiator. Part of his or her job is to help ensure they get you the best offer possible. Remember, price is only one part of the offer. The offer they will negotiate on your behalf will get you the best terms on things including closing date, repairs/concessions, commissions, and of course price.
- Manage contract process – A seller’s agent will need to be incredibly detailed so they stay on top of all details and deadlines to keep the sale progressing and ultimately get you to the closing table.
How are listing agents compensated?
Listing agents don’t receive any payment unless the seller’s home gets sold. If the house does get sold, the typical agent commissions paid out at closing is around 6% of the price of the seller’s home – and these commissions are typically split 50/50 between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent.
How to choose the right listing agent
Here are some questions to consider:
- How many homes have they sold? Has the agent sold many homes in the same area the seller is located? If not, then why not? Experience is a key aspect of selecting the right listing agent.
- How long did those homes take to sell? How long did it take on average for the listing agent to sell the homes in the seller’s area? Although days-on-market (DOM) will of course be impacted by the overall real estate housing market, as an agent becomes more experienced and capable, their ability to sell homes more quickly should increase.
- How much did the homes sell for? In what price range did the agent sell most of their homes? If it’s a wide variety or also roughly the value of the seller’s home, then that’s great. If not, then this could pose an issue for the seller.
- Does the listing agent have advice about the home’s condition and what could be improved? There are potentially many things a seller can do (or not do) to improve the sales price of their home, and if a listing agent is good at what they’re doing, they’ll work with the seller on options available.
- What is their marketing plan? Capable listing agents typically have a standard approach to real estate marketing, whether it’s for social media, open houses, photography, etc. And then of course, they’ll have particular tweaks for each location depending on what it needs.
- Can they recommend contractors, photographers, moving companies, etc.? Every house is different and has different needs for marketing, showing and so on. So does the listing agent have multiple recommendation arrows in their home-selling quiver?
- Is being a listing agent their full-time job? An agent that works part-time is not typically a problem, if the agent has experience and is still fully committed, but the seller will want to gauge the agent’s availability for communication during their off-hours.
- How often will the agent touch base with the seller? It’s important that the listing agent is available and reaching out to the seller with updates. It’s also important to understand what communication methods are preferred by the seller: text, phone, email, etc.
- Are they planning any vacations? Everybody likes and deserves time off from work, but what will be the agent’s back-up plan, if they’re not available while the seller is trying to get their house sold?
And the most important question of all
Do you really need one?
The internet has definitely changed the way people shop for homes. In fact, half of the homes purchased in 2016 were found online by buyers. But still 90 percent of sellers used a listing agent to market that house online and elsewhere.
A seller can certainly also go the “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) route too when they have a property for sale, but they might consider enlisting the help of a professional. Unfortunately, in some cases it might even be a necessity, as some buyer’s agents will not even show houses that aren’t represented by listing agents.
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