Being successful at rehabbing and reselling properties involves putting the right team in place. A key member of your team is your realtor. Sellers rely on their realtor to know the local market, gain access to buyers, list their property with the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) database and provide the skills necessary to negotiate and close the sale.
It’s also possible to sell a house without a realtor. The benefit of this is saving on commission fees, but the downside is that your time will be spent showing the property to prospective buyers and hosting open houses. In addition, without the help of a realtor, the property is likely to take longer to sell. Most rehabbers lack the time and skills to market a property effectively and increase their chances of success by working with a realtor.
Not all real estate professionals are created equal. There are distinct differences between a real estate agent and a realtor. Both must be licensed by the state, but the realtor is also a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and bound by its requirements and code of ethics. A real estate agent who is a member of NAR can use the designation Realtor®.
The first step in finding a good realtor is to ask for recommendations from people you know. Also check on-line sources for agents who are actively marketing properties in your area. Realtors who work full-time in the business and who are familiar with your neighborhood often yield the best results. Also look for agents who have earned awards from their peers such as “Realtor of the Year” from the local NAR branch. If you are selling a residential property, look for an agent with CRS credentials, who has completed additional training in residential real estate. Plan to interview at least three realtors.
An effective technique for screening candidates is to attend an open house where you can informally interview the agent, assessing how smoothly he or she interacts with potential buyers and his or her ability to think on their feet. You want an agent who will be pro-active and present your property in the best possible light.
Questions to ask during the Interview include how many homes the realtor has sold in your area, his or her experience selling REO and HUD homes, their marketing plan for your property and suggested listing price. Be wary of realtors who recommend a selling price significantly above or below the price suggested by others. All agents have access to the same comparable property sales data and are thus likely to price your property within a fairly narrow range. Your agent should be able to tell you the list price of comparable properties, what they sold for and how long they were on the market. The danger of too high a listing price is that the home will take longer to sell. Buyers are suspicious of houses that have been listed for months, which is the reason that these properties often attract lowball offers.
If your preference is renting rather than selling the property, look for an agent who has deep experience in the rental market. A skilled rental agent can provide valuable input regarding vacancy levels and rental rates in your neighborhood and tip you off to hidden problems that may make your property less attractive to renters.
In addition to interviewing an agent, check their online listings on the company’s website and Realtor.com. Ideally the types of properties listed on the agent’s website should be a close match with the property you want to sell, both in terms of location and price range. Also check that the agent has a sufficient number of listings to indicate a robust business.
Your best bet is to pick an agent who has experience in marketing your type of property. For example, if you are selling a stand-alone house, an agent who mostly sells condos or duplexes may not be the best fit. Also focus on agents who sell properties in your targeted price range. If an agent deals mostly in entry level starter homes and you are selling a high end property, that agent is unlikely to have lists of buyers who would be interested in your property.
One of the most important characteristics of a good agent is returning phone calls, texts and emails promptly. Responsiveness facilitates closing deals quickly. An agent too busy or too disorganized to return calls in a timely manner loses leads from potential buyers or may cause your offer to be overlooked when competitively bidding on a property. A good agent also stays on top of all the details involved in pre-closing (i.e. mortgage approval, property cleared of liens, home inspection issues resolved). Their pro-active efforts can make all the difference between a successful sale and problems at the closing.
Every agent should be part of a team that can provide backup in case of illness or vacation. There are numerous advantages to working with an agent who is part of a larger, well-established real estate firm. For example, large firms typically have longer office hours, staff manning the phones throughout the business day and bigger advertising budgets. The fact that many agents are employed by the firm also works to the seller’s advantage since other agents will also be familiar with your property and may pitch it to their clients.
Due to better geographic coverage and superior brand recognition, agents who work for larger firms often have access to more extensive referral networks and larger listing inventories. Bigger firms are also more likely to offer in-depth training programs for their agents and encourage ongoing education. Another advantage is that larger firms are more likely to invest in cutting edge technology, including state-of-the-art digital marketing tools.