You have a million things on your to-do list when selling your home.
Among the seemingly never-ending list of items to tackle: having the first meeting with a realtor.
The importance of this initial appointment often gets overlooked…
But if you know what to expect — and how to prepare for it — it can help you work with an agent who will put you in the best position to quickly have a successful (and most profitable!) sale.
To help you nail this part of the process, I’ve broken down the five things that will happen when meeting with a realtor for the first time.
I’ll also cover how you can prepare for it up front.
And I’ll tell you the one thing most home sellers don’t do.
Let’s dive in.
What to expect during your initial listing consultation
Several key moments happen during your first encounter with a real estate agent.
Knowing these up front can help you prepare and set yourself up for success when designating the agent best suited to list your house.
Before we explore what happens at this intro meeting, as a rule of thumb, plan to set aside one to two hours for it.
Meet and greet
The first few minutes of your meeting will likely include some icebreakers.
This conversation also serves as a chance to recap things you already discussed when you initially contacted the agent.
The prospective listing agent you’re meeting with should recall your motivations as a seller, including your:
- Reason for selling
- Timeline to sell
- Unique selling situation
Additionally, your first meeting is an opportunity to build rapport.
You’ll be tackling the important steps of the selling process with your agent, so you want someone you can rely on.
Pro tip: Pay attention during the first few minutes to gauge your initial connection. You’re looking for an ally, friend, and advisor — all in one.
And while you should absolutely “click” with the agent, remember…
This partnership needs to extend beyond likeability.
After all, by enlisting a realtor to sell your house, you’re trusting them with your most valuable asset.
Give a full tour of your home
Plan to guide the agent through your house room-by-room.
Talk about any upgrades you’ve made (or are considering) and any potential issues with your property that you’re aware of.
This part of your first meeting is mission-critical for a few reasons…
- Ensures the agent can provide their best-recommended list price.
- Gives you a better sense of their expertise.
- Sheds light on updates or repairs you may want to consider before selling.
Let’s unpack this last reason a bit more.
Get the agent’s advice on home prep and repairs.
One benefit of your initial consultation is that you’ll get professional (free!) recommendations to boost your home’s value.
Getting expert advice on which upgrades and repairs to consider before selling is on the list of things you should expect from your listing agent.
This is especially true if you’re connecting with an experienced agent worth their salt.
Home prep examples:
- Deep cleaning
- Boosting curb appeal
- Home staging
Examples of minor home repairs/improvements:
- Interior/exterior paint touch-ups
- Flooring updates, like refinishing hardwood floors
- Repairing a leaky faucet
- Re-grouting tile
Examples of major home repairs/improvements:
- Kitchen and bathroom upgrades
- New flooring
- New roof/windows
- HVAC repairs
The realtor should advise on improvements or repairs that will bring the best return.
Or, if you’re selling “as is,” they should recommend ways to attract prospective buyers, without having to make any repairs or improvements.
Pro tip: Don’t just listen to the agent’s feedback — try to understand why they’re providing it. Pay attention to mentions of your property’s selling features, nuances that may appeal to (or turn off) potential buyers, and their logic behind any improvements or repairs.
Learn their marketing strategy
The agent should explain their strategy to market your house during your consultation.
This is important because not all real estate agents will implement the right marketing plan.
And an agent’s marketing plan will impact how many prospective buyers know that your house is on the market.
Here are a few things you’ll want to pay attention to about how they’ll make your listing stand out…
- Photography: Homes with professional photos sell 32% faster. Are they planning to hire a photographer (they should), or cut costs by taking pics themselves?
- Social media: Will they run digital ads on Facebook or Instagram? What about creating buzz by sharing your listing on their social media platforms?
- Search-optimized listing: How will the potential realtor ensure that your listing comes up in online searches and the description stands out against other properties?
But you also want to know which selling features they’ll utilize to maximize your home’s appeal to prospective buyers (every property has at least one).
Understanding the agent’s approach helps ensure you’re on the same page in terms of marketing your property and that they’re well-equipped to get the word out (and bring you the best offers).
Pro tip: Take heed to whether their plan outlines who the potential buyer for your home is. A marketing strategy focused on the ideal audience typically yields the best results.
Discuss the value of your home
Now comes the highlight of your first time together: talking about your home’s value and what price they recommend listing at.
During your meeting, the realtor should review a comparative market analysis (CMA), a comprehensive report that incorporates recent sales of similar properties in your area to compare your house against (“comps”).
The CMA takes into consideration real estate transaction data from comps, including:
- Square footage
- Lot size
- Property condition
- Number of beds and baths
- Nearby schools
The real estate agent you’re meeting with should also scrutinize other factors — buyer demand, current mortgage rates, seasonality, etc. — to determine your home’s value, and therefore the suggested list price.
Importantly, they should not only explain their pricing recommendation but also how they arrived at it.
Pro tip: Note whether the agent backs up their list price with data and how they explain it. If a realtor offers a precise explanation justifying why your home is worth their list price recommendation (at minimum), they’ll be apt to use that data when negotiating to get you top dollar.
Review the listing agreement
Expect to be presented with an exclusive listing agreement towards the end of your meeting.
This document is a legally binding contract that formalizes the relationship between you and the real estate agent — and it’s not easy to cancel.
Listing agreements usually run for several months, which gives your agent the upper hand.
Once you’re locked into a contract, the agent’s commission check essentially becomes “guaranteed.”
This sense of security entices some realtors to put existing listings — including yours, potentially — on the back burner, while they focus on scoring future listings.
But understanding key tips before signing a listing contract can help you avoid situations like this.
Pro tip: Before you sign anything, ask the agent if they’ll let you cancel your contract. Identifying an agent who lets sellers cancel their agreement, like our partner agents at SoldNest, makes it easier to weed out those who won’t make your home sale a top priority.
How to prepare for your initial meeting with a realtor
You can do several things ahead of time to make the most of your first meeting.
These will increase the chances of qualifying the person best matched to make you the most money in the best timeframe.
Here’s how to plan for your upcoming appointment.
Change your mindset
One of the secrets to a successful realtor encounter?
Having the right mindset.
You already know that selling your house is a huge transaction that can impact not only your finances but your lifestyle.
But what most sellers don’t know is that they’re wired to make decisions that can go against their best interests.
This is due to emotions. And letting them guide your decisions can lead to big — and costly — mistakes.
There is a way around this…
Reframe your mindset to consider your appointment a business meeting.
This helps extract your emotions from the situation and better equip you to partner with the right realtor.
Here are a few strategies to help you do this:
- Prepare yourself not to take any negative feedback personally.
- Be ready to price your house based on the local market and the data — not your feelings.
- Identify any emotions you are experiencing (whether grief, overwhelm, frustration, etc.,) to ensure they won’t affect your decision-making.
- Understand that there are certain things you should refrain from telling a listing agent upfront.
Bring your most pressing questions
You’ll want to prepare a list of questions before meeting with a realtor.
This can help clarify whether the agent is the best person to sell your house fast and for the maximum price.
But it’s not just about knowing which questions to ask — it’s about getting the right answers.
Here are two great questions, plus the replies to listen for:
Q: “How will you vet the buyer?”
A: Having an agent who knows how to qualify buyers lessens the likelihood your offer will fall through. The agent should speak to the buyer’s financing, plus strategies to reduce the chances they’ll change their mind during the contingency period.
Q: “What percentage of your listings have fallen through?”
A: This answer can give further insight into how good the agent is at qualifying buyers. For instance, a curiously high figure — to me, anything above 5% — can mean the realtor doesn’t do a great job vetting buyers.
Jot down similar questions before your appointment to put you in the best position to designate the right agent.
(If you’re looking for more ideas, check out our related article on the top questions to ask a real estate agent when selling.)
Don’t make an irrational decision
According to the National Association of Realtors, most sellers (80%) encounter one agent before deciding who to sell with.
Whether you’re meeting with one agent or several, make sure your decision isn’t based solely on likeability, or because the person was referred to you.
Let’s say you are meeting with a real estate agent your friend used and feel they’re a good fit.
But what you don’t know is that they have an unusually high number of transactions where they’ve represented both the seller and buyer in the same sale.
This is a huge red flag because agents with a history of representing both parties are more likely to prioritize securing themselves a higher commission over securing you a higher selling price.
Instead of being swayed by an agent’s charm or the fact they come highly recommended, make sure they’re also the best qualified.
This means the realtor:
- Is experienced selling in your area and near your price range
- Has highly positive reviews from sellers
- Presents a strategic marketing plan
- Maintains a good history of only representing the seller (and not both seller and buyer in the same sale)
- Will let you cancel your listing agreement
Before your meeting, memorize this list.
Hang it on sticky notes throughout your house (just remove them before your visit!).
Or repeat it like a mantra: I will make my decision based on the realtor who’s the best qualified.
Whatever you need to do so the message sinks in.
Having your first meeting with a realtor to sell your house is an essential part of the process — and you can make the most of it by knowing what to expect and how to prepare.
Doing so will provide clarity when qualifying a real estate agent.
And when you know how to qualify an agent, choosing the best realtor is a whole lot easier.