The realtor you choose to sell your house can easily make or break your sale.
By “make or break,” I mean the real estate agent you pick can be the difference of:
- Tens of thousands of dollars in your selling price (sometimes more)
- Selling quickly vs. having your home sit on the market
- A stressful home selling experience vs. an easy one
But here’s the problem…
Many home sellers base their decision on an agent’s personality and how many homes they’ve sold.
While both of these are important, they can be very deceiving.
Because experience and likeability do not mean a real estate agent will have your best interests in mind when selling your home.
I’m going to show you what to look for in a realtor so you know what does.
Follow these steps to learn how to choose the best real estate agent to sell your house.
1. Disqualify inexperienced agents
The first step in choosing a real estate agent is simple:
Don’t waste time considering agents who don’t have recent selling experience.
Selling a house with a realtor involves many moving parts, so you’re going to need an experienced agent who has the know-how to get the job done.
I’d highly recommend not choosing a real estate agent who has:
- Not been licensed for more than 2 years
- Been licensed for 2+ years but hasn’t sold a property within the last ~3 months
- Been licensed for numerous years but has sold fewer than 10 properties
So remove inexperienced candidates from your list when you find a realtor to sell.
And don’t pick a real estate agent just because they have a lot of listings.
Experience is a prerequisite when choosing an agent, but it doesn’t mean they’ll look out for your interests.
2. Interview qualified candidates
Approach choosing a real estate agent in a similar way as you would prepare to interview someone for a job.
Because that’s what it is.
Interviewing potential candidates allows you to gather key information before you decide which real estate agent you want to pick to sell your house.
Some home sellers miss this because they don’t know what information to get and how to get it.
This is one of the things that causes them to pick the wrong listing agent.
Here’s how you can avoid that.
Ask the right questions
Most sellers ask questions before choosing a real estate agent.
The problem is that they ask the wrong ones.
Most are generic and just a formality.
Remember, you’re interviewing real estate agents to sell your most valuable asset.
So treat it as such.
Here are several of the key questions to ask a realtor before hiring them.
How did you arrive at your suggested listing price?
You’ll get an opinion about what your home should be listed at when meeting with a real estate agent.
But you don’t just want a number.
You want to hear about the “how.”
If an agent can’t explain the “how,” there’s a good chance that they won’t be able to defend their recommended price (or higher) when speaking to a buyer’s agent.
How many times have you represented the seller and buyer in the same transaction?
There are some listing agents who make it a priority to represent both the seller and buyer in a real estate transaction.
So that they can also be the buyer’s agent and get two commissions instead of one.
This results in a higher commission check for the agent but can easily result in a lower sale price for the seller.
You want to stay away from choosing one of these agents because these are the listing agents who prioritize their commission.
I’ll tell you how you can avoid picking one of these agents shortly.
But the goal here is to know these two things during the interview:
- How many times they’ve represented both the buyer and seller in the same transaction
- The percentage of these sales out of their total number of listings sold
How many homes have you sold like mine and near my location?
You want to get a rough estimate of how many sales that agent has that are similar to yours and in your area.
What I mean by this is property type, value range, and proximity.
How many single-family homes have they sold vs. condos/townhouses?
And how many of those sales are near your location and near your estimated price range?
Will you lower your commission?
You’re putting a realtor to the test with this.
The agent you’re going to choose will be negotiating tens of thousands of dollars for you.
If a real estate agent can’t negotiate their money, do you really think they’re going to negotiate yours?
You want to listen closely to their immediate reaction and take note of how they respond.
Do you have references I can contact?
A good real estate agent will always have previous selling clients who are willing to vouch for them.
Request the contact information of one to three clients who have sold a home with that agent.
And here’s a bonus tip…
Before meeting with an agent, ask them for the addresses of the last three homes they’ve sold.
Then when meeting with them, see if they’ll give you the contact information for any of those previous sellers.
This prevents the agent from hand-picking a specific seller for you to contact.
Put any real estate agent who does this at the top of your list to choose from.
What’s your marketing plan?
Not all real estate agents have the same marketing strategy.
So you want to know how each agent plans on marketing your home to prospective buyers.
Who do they think your buyer will be?
What selling features will they use to enhance your home?
Which marketing channels will they use to reach interested buyers?
And what’s included in their marketing plan?
Professional photos? Video? Brochures? Staging?
Make notes about your meeting
Your goal during the interview process is to collect key information to help you pick the best real estate agent.
But now it’s time to compare and assess that information.
3. Evaluate potential real estate agents
The next step in choosing a real estate agent is to evaluate potential candidates.
Here’s how to do that…
Analyze how they arrived at their suggested listing price
You want to evaluate each real estate agent’s recommended list price.
But don’t get tunnel vision about the exact number.
Instead, focus on how they got there in the first place.
Ensure that the listing price they chose is backed by data with a comparative market analysis (CMA).
This is an analysis that almost every listing agent will provide to you before or during your initial meeting.
Make sure there is some reasoning behind the number they’re suggesting.
If they’re not telling you how they arrived at their suggested “asking” price, it usually means one of two things:
- The real estate agent is inexperienced
- They are intentionally inflating the “value” to earn your business
Since you eliminated the agents without experience at the start of this process, it’s probably the latter.
You should consider this a red flag and seriously think twice about picking that real estate agent to list your house.
More on this in a minute.
Assess their selling experience
The realtor you pick should have experience selling properties that are:
- The same property type as yours (house vs. condo/townhouse)
- In your area
- Near your home’s estimated value
Is your property a single-family residence?
Then you want a local real estate agent who sells more single-family homes than other property types.
The same applies if your property is a condo or townhouse.
Compare how many of these listings they’ve sold near your location.
But more importantly, you want to choose a realtor who has experience selling in your price range.
If your home is worth ~$800k, an agent who primarily sells homes much higher than this might not make your sale a top priority.
And if your home is worth ~$1.5M+, you don’t want a real estate agent with a track record of selling homes at a much lower price point.
Judge their negotiating skills
How did they respond when you asked about the lower commission?
Did they tell you why they’re worth what they charge?
Or did they immediately tell you that they’ll lower their fee?
This is where you want to start thinking about not choosing certain listing agents.
Sure, a lower commission might sound great — but choosing a real estate agent solely based on this can cost you more.
Because if a real estate agent doesn’t defend their financial interest, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t defend yours.
4. Compare marketing plans
Marketing is key when selling your home.
It gets more buyers to view your listing, which can lead to a better offer in a shorter amount of time.
But not all real estate agents will have the best marketing approach.
This is why you want to compare each real estate agent’s plan before deciding who to pick.
First, see how they’re going to showcase your home.
At a minimum, each agent should be including these to market your property:
- Posting to MLS and syndication of listing on all major sites
- Professional photos
- Professionally written property description
- Open houses and broker tours
But if this is all that’s included in an agent’s “marketing plan,” you should think about not choosing them because this is considered the bare minimum.
Look for additional things that could help separate your property from other houses for sale.
Some of these might include:
- Drone photos/video
- Custom brochures
- Floor plan
- Plan to improve your value before listing
These are great marketing tools that could make your property stand out to prospective buyers.
But what you really want is to choose the real estate agent who has the best overall selling strategy.
One that will attract the right buyer in the shortest amount of time.
What’s the agent’s selling strategy?
Most experienced real estate agents can sell a house.
Especially if it’s a seller’s market.
But there’s a reason why good real estate agents have a proven track record of selling homes faster and for more money.
One of those reasons?
The individual blueprint they come up with for each home they sell.
What you want (and need) is to see how different agents’ strategies stack up against each other.
Do they have an actual plan to sell your home?
Or are they just throwing your house up on the MLS and all of the real estate search sites?
The best-selling plan has these 3 parts:
- Identify the ideal buyer
- List of selling features that are attractive to potential buyers
- Marketing channels used to maximize reach
Compare selling strategies and lean toward choosing the real estate agent who you think has the best overall approach to selling your home.
5. Eliminate realtors with red flags
Real estate agents have a fiduciary duty to their clients, and many of them hold this to the highest standard.
But just like with most professions, there are ones you need to watch out for.
These are the listing agents who are willing to risk their integrity for a paycheck.
Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult for sellers to recognize who they are.
But there are three things you can do to avoid choosing a real estate agent who won’t look out for your best interests.
Don’t select a real estate agent with a high dual agency rate
Usually, the agent you choose will only be representing you and your interests throughout the transaction.
But sometimes a real estate agent will represent both you and the buyer.
This is known as a “dual agency” or “transaction broker,” and it means your agent won’t be able to protect you in the same way.
This happens much more often than you’d think, especially among “top” real estate agents (the agents who sell a lot of homes).
Some of these agents have a very high percentage.
Like, astronomically high (20%+).
Steer clear from choosing a real estate agent to sell your home who has this stat on their track record.
Because these are the real estate agents who prioritize their commission above a higher selling price.
This is one of the reasons why we analyze an agent’s transaction history when they apply to join our network.
We don’t allow the ones with a shady track record to join.
And you shouldn’t choose them to sell your home.
Don’t pick a real estate agent whose ratio is 10%+.
The lower the number, the better.
Don’t pick an agent with an unrealistic list price
Some real estate agents are very good at convincing you that they can sell your house for an inflated amount.
It’s a common tactic used by some agents who have experience.
They utilize their expertise to make you believe that they can get a buyer to magically pay you an unrealistic price, hoping that this will convince you to not choose another real estate agent.
For the seller, this usually results in a longer home sale and a lower selling price than it would have been if it had been priced accurately from the start.
Here’s how you can avoid this…
Don’t choose a real estate agent whose listing price seems too good to be true — or is substantially higher than other agents you meet with.
The inflated dollar amount may seem tempting, but don’t fall for it.
Before I got into the real estate industry, I made this mistake when selling our home, and it was a nightmare.
Listing your home above market value will ignite a home selling experience that you don’t want to think about.
And also be aware of any real estate agent who wants to underprice your home.
These are the agents who want to collect a quick commission and will use your “above asking sold price” to market themselves to your neighbor.
Setting the right price for your home is critical.
Choose a realtor who has a reputation for providing an honest price opinion.
This is one of the reasons why we analyze an agent’s performance history before recommending them to a seller.
Don’t get locked into the listing agreement
You’ll sign a listing agreement with the real estate agent you hire to sell your home.
All home sellers do.
This agreement is usually for ~6 months (negotiable) and doesn’t include an option to cancel.
Make sure that the agent you select will agree to let you cancel at any time before signing the agreement.
Not so much because you might fire that realtor and choose another one, but because if you have the option to pick another agent, that will keep your realtor motivated.
Because they’re no longer “guaranteed” a commission.
This is why we require every agent we allow into our network to let sellers cancel their agreements.
You want the real estate agent you choose to know that you can pick another agent at any time.
It’ll increase the chances of your agent making your sale a top priority.
6. Analyze past selling experiences
It’s difficult for a homeowner to know the type of service they’ll get before choosing a realtor to sell their home.
But you can get an idea by doing these two things:
Look through the agent’s online reviews
Examining online reviews is a great way to know what you should expect from a realtor if you elect to pick them.
But don’t just consider the overall rating or quickly glance over the agent’s reviews.
Instead, look for these three things:
- Reviews by sellers only
- Common language that is repeated in multiple reviews (communication, service, negotiating, responsiveness, etc.)
- Detailed reviews where you can tell that the seller spent more than a few minutes sharing their experience
And spend time scouring through multiple platforms because many agents get reviews on different sites.
It can be time-consuming but increases your chances of choosing the right real estate agent.
If you need help with this, we do it for you.
Part of our agent vetting process is analyzing reviews by doing what I mentioned above.
Contacting past clients and assessing the responses you get can make choosing one real estate agent over another a whole lot easier.
But the key is to not just listen to what a previous home seller says — listen to how they say it.
Sometimes the voice inflection can tell you a lot more than the actual words they’re saying.
Here’s what you’ll want to learn from those conversations.
Did the agent work for their benefit?
This can tell you a lot about how trustworthy that seller thinks that real estate agent is.
Any hesitation without hearing “yes” is something you want to pay attention to.
A quick “yes” with a detailed explanation is a great sign.
How helpful were they?
This is a great way to find out how supportive each agent was throughout the home selling process.
Did they provide useful guidance before putting the house on the market?
Did they help make the seller’s move easier?
If there’s something specific that you need help with during the selling process, ask about it.
How were their communication and responsiveness?
Communication with a real estate agent when selling a home is underrated.
Many sellers aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.
This is an excellent opportunity for you to avoid this.
Did the agent answer their phone?
How long did they take to return phone calls?
How quickly did the agent respond to emails and texts?
The last thing you want is to choose a realtor who lacks communication skills.
7. Pick your best real estate agent
Now it’s time to choose your listing agent.
At this point, you have:
- Interviewed and compared multiple seller agents
- Eliminated the realtors you shouldn’t choose
- Reviewed their past selling experiences
If there are still two or more real estate agents in the running, then you need to go with your gut.
Who made the best impression?
Do you have a better personality match with one of them?
You’re going to be working closely with this person, so you want to factor comfort into your decision.
But don’t let the agent’s personality factor into your decision-making process more than the red flags we talked about.
As soon as you know which real estate agent you want to choose, pick up the phone to let them know that you’ve decided to select them.
They’ll go over the listing agreement with you and explain the next steps.
Choosing the right realtor does make a difference.
Your decision will impact how fast you sell and how much money you walk away with.
If you need help, this is our bread and butter. SoldNest combines home sale data with your property attributes and our vetting requirements to help you choose the best listing agent.
If you followed everything we discussed, you’ll feel more confident that you’ll be selling your house with a realtor who will look out for your best interests.