Real Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Broker

Real Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Broker

While the exact terminology varies state by state, generally:

All Real Estate Brokers are Real Estate Agents, but NOT all Real Estate Agents are Real Estate Brokers.

For example, in states like Ohio or California, a Real Estate Agent will need:

  • to be active for 2+ years,
  • to have handled 20+ real estate transactions during that time,
  • and completed an additional 10 - 20+ hours of college-level Continuing Education,

before they’re eligible to become a Real Estate Broker.

In that sense, a Real Estate Broker is typically a step above a Real Estate Agent.

Usually, any Real Estate Agent will need to work under a Broker.

They won’t be eligible to work on their own until they receive the Broker’s license.

The Broker holds the Agent’s license, and is their “boss.”

Real Estate Brokers may or may not actively work as Agents themselves.

Some Brokers focus exclusively on managing their Brokerage & overseeing their Teams of Agents.

Either way, both a Real Estate Agent and / or a Real Estate Broker will be able to help you sell your real estate.

The only question is choosing the right Agent or Broker to represent your property!

Buyer’s Agents, Seller’s Agents, Renter’s Agents, and More…

Many Real Estate Agents specialize in working with Buyers, Sellers, Renters, Commercial Property Owners, Real Estate Investors, and many others.

It’s important to pick the right Real Estate Agent for you.

Make sure the Real Estate Agent you’re considering to work with is experienced as a Seller’s Agent (if you’re going to hire them to help you sell your house).

Ideally, they should have experience selling comparable properties in your exact neighborhood / location.

The Two Sides to Every Transaction: Buyer Side, Seller Side, and Dual Agency

To every real estate sale where a Real Estate Agent is involved, there are 2 “sides” to the transaction:

  1. The Buyer Side.
  2. The Seller Side.

The Buyer Side

The Buyer Side represents the Buyer in the transaction, helping them with things like:

  • finding a mortgage lender,
  • searching for a house,
  • viewing properties,
  • making offers,
  • and closing on a real estate purchase.

The Seller Side

The Seller Side represents the Seller in the transaction, helping them with things like:

  • pricing their home correctly,
  • researching comparables,
  • staging & preparing the house for sale,
  • marketing the Listing,
  • showing the property,
  • negotiating with prospective Buyers,
  • and getting the sale closed.

Dual Agency

A Dual Agent or Dual Agency means when a single Real Estate Agent represents both the Buyer and Seller Sides of a transaction.

An experienced Dual Agent can help streamline the process, not depending on any Buyer’s Agents to bring along the qualified Buyer.

Rather, the Dual Agent works with you, the Seller, to bring the Buyer themselves.

Knowing The Difference

Understanding the difference between these two types of Real Estate Professionals is good information to know.

But always remember: You don't need an Agent or a Broker to sell your Cincinnati house for cash, fast, in 'as-is' condition. 

Call us today!

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The 10 Steps to Selling Any Cincinnati House

Every time you sell a house is different, because each Buyer, Seller, date, time, and place are unique…

BUT there are certain practically universal steps when it comes to selling ANY house.

These steps include very basic ones, like:

  • Actually deciding to sell your house!
  • Deciding whether or not to use a REALTOR®.
  • Closing the Sale & getting paid.

Other steps might not be so obvious, but are nearly as universal, such as:

  • Researching your local market & comparable recent sales (“comps”).
  • Getting your house ready to sell, staging, and taking pictures.
  • Marketing your property & showing it to prospective Buyers.
  • Conducting a Title Search to ensure the property is deeded & available for transfer.
  • Dealing with negotiations, contracts, and addendums.

Below, we’ll go over the 10 steps to sell basically any Cincinnati house (assuming you’re going for a Retail Sale).

One way to shortcut this entire process is to sell your house fast, in as is condition, to a local investor for a cash offer. (This is what we provide at CincyBuyer.)

Before you do, it makes sense to consider whether a retail sale is right for you, so these 10 steps will guide you through the process.

Step 1: Establish Your Home Selling Timeline.

Ideally, you don’t want to rush the home selling process.

However, if you have any external time constraints, the process might be rushed by its very nature.

For example, if you need to:

  • Sell your Cincinnati house when moving or relocating,
  • Sell fast because you’re paying double mortgages,
  • Sell an inherited or vacant home, or
  • Sell a home in many other scenarios that require expedience,

Then your timeline will be of the utmost concern.

The first consideration you need to solidify:

Pick a Date By When You Need the House SOLD.

In an ideal world, with time as a luxury, you can use online tools like the Zillow Owner Dashboard, Realtor.com Seller Resources, and Local Market Reports, to determine the best possible month & time of year to list your property.

However, if you're under a time crunch with real-world deadlines, you'll need to sell as fast as possible.

No matter what:

Do your best research to set a reasonable date, most likely at least 3 - 6 months out (to give time to find a REALTOR®, list, market, and sell the property).

Be realistic, set a date, mark it on your calendars, and get the ball rolling.

 

 

img via: Max PixelCC0

Step 2: Research Your Local Market to Get an Idea of What Else Is For Sale

Before you even start interviewing Real Estate Agents and/or researching how to sell your Cincinnati house For Sale By Owner (FSBO):

Dip your toes in the local market, and spy on what else is for sale!

You need to know the competition.

Your house doesn't exist in a vacuum, and any potential Buyer in the market will be looking at not only your house, but on average at least 10 other homes before even making an offer.[1]

Research what else is for sale, and be honest with yourself as to how your house stacks up.

Remember: your memories & experiences are attached to this home, but to a new prospective Buyer it's just a house.

Focus on nearby comparable properties currently for sale & recently sold to start coming up with a rough ballpark price of what you feel your house is realistically worth.

Step 3: Decide If You Will Be Selling With (or Without) a REALTOR®.

There are Pros and Cons to working with a Real Estate Agent.

The most obvious negative:

Price.

Working with a Real Estate Agent to sell your Cincinnati real estate means most likely paying 6% of the total sale price as a commission!

That is 6% directly out of your pocket.

However, every case is different, and depending on your circumstances that 6% might be a cheap bargain for the amount of service you’ll receive.

To help you make the choice, later, on page 64, we’ll go in-depth to help you answer the age old question:

Should You Sell Your House Without a REALTOR®?

If You’re Going to Hire a Real Estate Agent, Start Interviewing ASAP.

In case you decide you do want to hire a Real Estate Agent:

Choosing the RIGHT Real Estate Agent is critical!

Not all REALTORS® are created equal.

You don’t want to rush into hiring the wrong Real Estate Agent!

A Listing Agreement is usually exclusive for at least 90 – 180 days. While it does have an expiration, until that date, you are stuck with whatever Agent you’ve signed on with.

Some top producers offer excellent customer service & a brilliantly systematized marketing approach to get your house sold at the highest price, fast.

On the other hand, plenty of Real Estate Agents are lazy, will do little more than put a sign in your yard & list the property on the MLS…

Then will still pocket up to the full 6% commission!

That’s why later, we’ll provide:

5 Quick Tips to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent,

Plus, we’ll go in-depth with:

20 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent (Before Signing Any Agreement)


 

Step 4: Get Your House Ready To Sell!

Once you’ve decided to sell, and have chosen to either work with a Real Estate Agent, or sell your house directly…

You’re going to need to get it ready to sell.

You have basically 3 options:

  • Fix the property up to ideal retail condition.
  • Make some important improvements to boost value.
  • Sell the property as is.

There are reasons to consider all of the above, and in Section 2, “Getting Your House Ready to Sell we’ll be covering them in depth.

Deciding to Do the Repairs & Improvements, or Sell Your House As Is.

There are times when you’d rather not worry about the repairs…

And instead will be better off to Sell Your House As Is. The most common of which is quite obvious:

When you can't afford the time and/or money to do the repairs!

Maybe you would get more for the house if you handled the repairs or improvements, but sometimes your time or money right now is more valuable than all the investment & headaches it would take to fix the place.

We go into much more depth on the in’s and out’s of when to Do the Repairs as well as when to Sell Your House As Is later,  when we discuss:

How To Sell A House That Needs Work

One Month Before Listing: Start Moving Out, Keep Cleaning & Decluttering.

Once you have your timeline, and are getting ready to list your house for sale…

Whether it’s working with a REALTOR® or going the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route, about one month before you actually list your house “For Sale”:

Your house needs to showing-ready at practically all times, and at a moment’s notice.

That means, if at all possible, it’s best to move out at this stage.

This might mean moving into an apartment while you shop for your new home, or, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to buy your next house and move in, before you need to sell this current house.

If neither of these are possible or feasible to you, a final option would be moving the bulk of your own personal items into storage.

That way, your house will be much easier to keep clean & decluttered. Plus, it will leave more open space (making your house appear bigger), and give your prospective Buyers’ imaginations room to put their own spin on the house.

Quick Tip: If all of this seems overwhelming, don’t forget you can always sell your house as is, fast, for cash, to a local real estate investor.

You might not get as much money for the house, but you’ll also save yourself a ton of hassle & other unpredictable expenses that go along with the preparation for and actual process of selling.

Step 5: Listing and Marketing Your House For Sale.

Now that your house is ready to sell, you’re going to need to actually attract an interested, qualified Buyer.

This is a very complicated process, since for most people a home is their single largest asset. It’s a big purchase, accompanied by regulations, red tape, 3rd parties, and legal terms.

You’ll need to keep several factors in mind when Listing & Marketing your house For Sale:

  • How will prospective Buyers contact you?
  • Is there a way they can find the property online?
  • Where will you be marketing the Listing?
  • What will you do to follow up with Buyers?
  • How will you keep track of who’s still interested?

These are just some of the basics you’ll need to have in mind the moment you start drafting your Listing.

Choose the Right Listing Price for Your Home.

The first & most obvious choice you need to make when selling your house:

What is your Asking Price?

An Asking Price too high, and you’ll get little to no interest.

While many people think: “We can just lower it later,” this strategy is fundamentally flawed.

The longer your property sits on the market unsold, the more people are going to wonder what’s wrong with it.

A Listing with a history of price reductions, sitting on the market looks bad. Most likely you’ll end up waiting around for months only to get the same amount you would’ve by choosing the right Asking Price in the first place.

An Asking Price too low, and you’ll practically be giving the place away… losing out on tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When it comes to choosing the best Listing Price, this is an area where you’ll find no substitute for getting a Real Estate professional’s help!

Make Sure to Get Professional Quality Photographs!

A Listing with bad photographs is a Listing that will sit on the market too long.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then 25 – 30+ high quality professional photos of your home, inside & out, are worth a 500+ page Encyclopedia to your prospective Buyer.

No matter what, you’re going to need pictures of the property to properly market your home.

The better your pictures, the better your chances at finding the right Buyer, fast.

Unless you are a qualified professional photographer, this is an area worth hiring someone experienced, who can help portray your home in the best possible first light.


 

img via: Max PixelCC0

Step 6: Show the House & Meet With Prospective Buyers.

Now that your house is Listed for sale, hopefully the interested prospective Buyers will start flowing in.

People will find your house from your advertisements, from your signs in front of the house, and potentially from the MLS (if you’re working with a Real Estate Agent).

That means prospective Buyers will be trying to contact you in all of the following ways, for which you’ll need to be prepared:

  • Phone call.
  • Visit to your house.

In addition to being ready to field communications via all of the above channels, you’ll also need to be prepared to schedule a Showing.

You might also consider hosting & marketing some Open Houses, which presents its own set of challenges.

Avoid “Tire Kickers” by Only Showing to Buyers Who Are Pre-Approved for Financing.

One of the worst things that can happen with Showing your house for sale, is wasting time with a “Tire Kicker:”

Someone who doesn’t have the real intention or means to buy your house.

A “tire kicker” will come by, take the tour of your house, and then tell you they’re going to think about it

Or maybe they’ll even make a ballpark offer (with nothing to back it up). That tire kicker’s offer is not going to ever come true.

One of the best ways to avoid showing your house to tire kickers, who are just there to waste your time, is to only book a Showing with prospective Buyers who prove their financial means to buy.

That means asking them:

“Are you pre-approved for a mortgage?

Or are you a cash buyer?”

If their answer to both questions is “No” then your only reply will be to send them to a qualified Mortgage Lender who can get them pre-approved for a loan.

Until then, all you have is a tire kicker… who knows if they actually can get pre-approved for a loan to buy your house?

Step 7: Negotiate With a Prospective Buyer Till You Accept Their Offer.

Once you actually have a prospective Buyer, making an offer that is somewhat near your ballpark Asking Price…

It’s time to negotiate!

Keep in mind, practically every aspect of the real estate transaction is negotiable. It’s not just about the Price.

Consider negotiating on:

  • Closing date,
  • What’s included in the sale (vs. what’s not),
  • Who pays for any repairs or updates,
  • Contract addendums (like Inspections or Appraisals),
  • Anything else you want!

While there are some aspects of the real estate transaction that are legally regulated, requiring certain standards to be met…

Most every part of the sale of your house is negotiable.

Keep this in mind, and negotiate to achieve your goals.

 

 

img via: Dan MoyleCC BY 2.0

Step 8: Property Under Contract or “Pending.”

Once you and the Buyer have agreed upon a price & terms, you’ll sign a Contract of Sale. Almost always:

This Contract comes with Contingencies.

Contingencies are certain conditions that must be met for the actual Closing of the sale to go through.

Contingencies are clauses in the Contract that would allow either party to back out of the sale, if the conditions outlined are not met.

Some of the most common Contingencies include:

  • Inspection Contingency. If material defects are discovered during the Buyer’s Home Inspection, they reserve the right to renegotiate the price in light of the costs of repairs… or to make their purchase Contingent on you handling the repairs first.
  • Appraisal Contingency. A Buyer who is securing any type of mortgage will most likely require an Appraisal. This provides the Lender with a professional assessment of the home’s value they can trust. That’s why Buyers often make their offer Contingent on an Appraisal coming in at or above their offered price.
  • Financing Contingency. Similar to the Appraisal Contingency, this has to do directly with the Buyers ability to close on financing for your property. This is why it’s important to only work with pre-approved Buyers, but there are many nuances to mortgages that can present hurdles even later stages in the process.
  • House Sale Contingency. While the Buyer ideally will be able to sell their current house before making an offer… it doesn’t always work out that way. If they Buyer is selling their current home, at the same time as they’re buying your home, they might make their offer Contingent on their own home selling first.

Satisfying all the above Contingencies can be a lengthy process.

At least 2 – 3 different professionals will need to physically visit the property (Inspector, Appraiser, others), sometimes scheduling the appointment weeks out in advance.

Then, they will still need to handle some extra research and draft professional reports to deliver to you, the Buyer, the Lender, and the Title / Escrow Company.

This period of time, where both the Seller & Buyer have signed an agreement, but the property has not officially sold yet is known as Under Contract or Pending.”

Step 9: Completing Addendums / Rengotiating.

While your property is Under Contract or Pending, you’ll usually encounter some minor … to major & severe … hurdles & bumps in the road.

The most common issue will arise with Home Inspection Contingencies:

Home Inspectors will find problems with every home.

If you didn’t complete your own pre-sale inspection, you (and the Buyer) will probably be surprised by some of the issues the full Home Inspection uncovers.

In a high percentage of home sales, you will have to either lower your price, or complete some repairs yourself, to actually satisfy a Buyer’s Home Inspection Contingency.

Other issues are likely to arise during this stage if your Buyer is using a bank mortgage, or, worse yet an FHA or VA loan.

Even if the Appraisal comes in at a good number, it still might take weeks to actually have it completed.

If your Buyer is using an FHA or VA loan, a separate inspector / appraiser will have to come from that organization, and might create other stipulations you’ll have to satisfy for the Buyer to get their financing to buy your property!

Once all addendums are completed, all renegotiations finalized, and all changes to the Contract of Sale signed, then it’s time to finally go to the Closing table.

 

 

img via: PixabayCC0

Step 10: Closing & Settlement of the Sale!

If you’ve already made it through all 9 of the previous steps, and it’s time to reach the Closing table for the Settlement of the sale, you’re pretty much done.

At this point, your house is basically sold.

However, until the Deed is recorded, the Title doesn’t officially transfer. That means, until & unless the Closing & Settlement are completed successfully…

You still haven’t technically sold your house!

Later, we’ll go into much more detail examining “What Can Go Wrong at Closing, and How to Prevent It,” but for now just remember these 2 critical points.

#1. Work With a Reputable Title Company, Real Estate Attorney, and / or Escrow.

Depending on what type of property you’re selling, what type of financing your Buyer is using, and where your property is located, you will need professional assistance to close the sale.

Unless you are an attorney or Real Estate Broker well versed in the Deed reporting & Title transfer process, as well as equipped to handle Escrow and Trust accounts during the Closing & Settlement, you need to work with qualified professionals who possess the experience and infrastructure to do so.

You can find a reputable local Title Company or Real Estate Attorney by asking around among local REALTORS®, or researching on AngiesList & Google.

Once you’ve chosen the right Title Company or Attorney to help you at your Closing, they will guide you through to the end of the process (and most likely will host the Closing at their offices).

Quick Tip: Always buy the Title Insurance!

For such a small price added on to the Closing, you will save yourself from potentially very costly problems down the line.

Even if you’ve done a comprehensive Title Search and found no issues, that’s no guarantee they won’t be found later, or that there was nothing pending that had not yet been reported.

Title Insurance is a cheap deal for an excellent value, and is literally always worth it.

#2. Still Follow Up With All Parties Yourself.

There’s no substitute for doing your own legwork when it comes to Closing on the sale of your property!

That means calling, emailing, and texting everyone involved in the Closing the day before (and perhaps more times than that leading up to the Closing date).

Make sure everyone is on-time and has all documents ready.

Review the documents yourself to make sure everyone has signed their details correctly. One of the most common issues at the Closing table is missed, smudged, or incorrect signatures.

Finally, remind the Buyer to bring 2 forms of Identification to the Closing, just to be sure. This can be a simple last minute mistake that can push the Closing back by days or even weeks if your Title Company is especially booked.

Once all this is done, congratulations:

You’ve Sold your House!

The Deed is (or should soon be) reported, the Title is transferred, and the Buyer now owns the property.

You should also have received your payment, either in the form of wire transfer or cashier’s check, so check your accounts.

Congratulations on your sale!

[1] Realtor.com, “By the Numbers: Who’s Buying Homes These Days?

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20 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent (Before Signing Any Agreement)

20 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent (Before Signing Any Agreement)

1. What percentage of your Clients are Buyers, and what percentage of your Clients are Sellers?

This can be a critical first question, because it can set the whole tone of the rest of your conversation.

If you’re a Seller, you need a Seller’s Agent.

If you’re a Buyer, you need a Buyer’s Agent.

If you’re talking to the opposite, or someone who is generally inexperienced with your side of the transaction, you can pretty much end your conversation here.

(Other than maybe asking for a referral to someone who will better suit your needs.)

When it comes to the percentage, you also need to consider that many Agents work as a Team, so while they personally specialize in representing Sellers, someone else working closely with them on the same Team represents their Buyers.

Agents working with this Team approach can be more efficient, and therefore this question can reveal a potentially good choice for you.

Another good sign is an Agent who represents a relatively even portion of both Buyers & Sellers, because it means that they are most likely often acting as a Dual Agent.

This means they will potentially be able to streamline your entire home Buying and Selling process all “under one roof.”

2. What’s the best price we can get for my house, given its location, condition, and the state of the local market? Why?

One of the most valuable contributions a good Real Estate Agent will provide is:

A keen understanding of the local market, especially how to price your home correctly.

Pricing your home too high will scare away prospective Buyers, and can let your Listing go cold. Then you’re left with little to no showings.

Even starting with a high price, but lowering it later is not a foolproof solution.

Many Buyers & Buyer’s Agents will view a house that has sat on the market for too long, and think:

Something must be wrong with this place! Why else would it be taking so long to sell, while the Seller keeps lowering the price?”

On the other hand, pricing your house too low will mean losing money you could have otherwise put right into your pocket!

If your house sells extremely fast, with very little negotiation on price, it was probably priced too low.

One good way to avoid this is by having a qualified Real Estate Agent present you with a detailed analysis of nearby comparable properties, in what’s known as a:

Competitive Market Analysis (or CMA)

Generally made up of pages looking something like this:

Real Estate Competitive Market Analysis CMAs

A Competitive Market Analysis or CMA shows you where your home stands, compared to nearby comparable homes that are currently for sale, or have recently sold.

You should ask every agent you interview to present you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).

Request that the CMA includes more than just a $/sq. ft. calculation. Ask each agent for a thorough analysis of your home’s current condition and upgrades.

Watch out! Just because one Agent quotes you a much higher potential sale price than others, doesn’t mean they can actually get you that much.

Unscrupulous Agents are known to inflate the price just to get your Listing, then lower the price once you’ve signed with them (when nobody’s buying your over-priced Listing).

Be aware that some agents can be deceitful and will inflate their price of your home just to capture the Listing.

Worst of all, an overpriced home will usually end up sitting on the market longer, and potentially selling for less than it would have if it were fairly priced from the beginning.

3. How long do you think it will take for my home to sell?

Agents should be able to give you an estimate of how long they expect it will take for your home to sell, based on the local market & comparable recent sales.

Every MLS tracks a statistic known as Days On Market, or DOM. Make sure your Agent knows the average DOM for your own local market & neighborhood.

Some Agents will give a wide open timeline to pad their quote. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad about the Agent, but it might.

Again, be weary of unscrupulous agents who might give you an unrealistic time frame just to convince you to hire them – capturing your Listing only to watch your property sit on the market much longer than they quoted you!

Ask them how pricing will impact the likely Days On Market. They should be able to answer this question easily & with a well-reasoned explanation (if they know what they’re doing).

4. What are our biggest hurdles to a successful sale? Are there any improvements you’d recommend?

A good Real Estate Agent will be able to give you an idea of where and how you will be able to invest into improvements, to make more money when you sell.

It will also give you a feel for how upfront and honest they will be with you - two of the most important traits in a good Agent.

You want an Agent who will shoot you straight, with no-B.S., and who isn’t afraid to break the tough news to you about what improvements need to be made.

You need someone who is going to be honest & candid.

If the Agent is too overly positive, or is afraid to bring up potential difficulties & challenges, it’s possible there are other things they’re trying to hide from you as well.

5. How long have you been an active Real Estate Agent?

While you don’t need to only work with Real Estate Agents who have been in business for over 20 years, a lot of experience with a positive track record is invaluable.

Even freshly licensed Agents can be very valuable in many respects, as they tend to have more time to focus on you.

Sometimes top producers with 20+ year track records can also be the busiest…

With too much on their plate to concentrate on selling your house.

The bottom line?

Sometimes the best Agent for you is not the one with the most experience, but the one with the most relevant recent track record.

Agents learn on the job. The more sales they have completed, the more they know.

But not every real estate sale is the same.

Sometimes 2 – 3 recent sales in your neighborhood of similar properties can be more valuable than 30 sales of totally different types of properties in drastically different locations.

Sell Your Cincinnati House Fast [img: Unique Flower]

6. What are the top three things that set you apart from other Real Estate Agents?

A good agent won't hesitate to answer this question, and confidently.

They will be ready to list off why they are best suited for the job.

Everyone has their own standards, but some of the most common traits & qualities sellers say they are looking for include:

  • Honest and trustworthy
  • Assertive and upfront
  • Excellent negotiators
  • Available by phone or e-mail
  • Good communicators
  • Friendly
  • Analytical
  • Knowledgeable

If the agent you hire meets the majority of these qualifications, consider working with them.

These truly are some of the best qualities that a good Agent can have.

7. How many current & recent listings do you have in this neighborhood’s area?

You definitely want an agent who is familiar with your neighborhood and has recent comparable Listings that sold in a reasonable time for a good price.

While top producers with a very large number of recent transactions might have a fuller plate, a busy agent is usually a good one.

Even houses sold in your area doesn’t necessarily mean an Agent is compatible.

Someone who’s been successful selling Starter Homes or Condos in your neighborhood may not be a good fit for your Luxury Home or Apartment Building, and vice versa.

Sell Your House Fast [img: Mobile Communications]

8. If we choose to work together, how will we communicate? What are the best times to reach you?

Your Agent should be in frequent communication with you, providing immediate updates on any new information.

A good Real Estate Agent is someone who is in constant contact.

You want an Agent who is an excellent communicator, and who is available via any & all of your preferred mediums, including:

  • Text,
  • Phone,
  • Email,
  • Social Media.

They should be able to tell you the best mode for them, but a good Agent should also be able to adapt to your communication preferences.

If you only Text, but they only do Phone Calls, you might consider hiring someone who is more compatible with your own communication preferences.

If you’re only available in evenings, but your Agent is only available during daytime business hours, you’ll want to keep shopping around.

9. How often should I expect to hear from you while my home is for sale?

Your Agent should be checking in frequently and updating you on any new information.

When you have showings, they should give you feedback as soon as they get it.

When a prospective Buyer makes an offer, you should hear about it right away.

Ideally, your agent should have a Team and back-office Call Center that is available 24/7.

While everyone has their own time preferences & limitations, a good Real Estate Agent is someone who is always quick to update you, never waiting for you to chase them down to ask questions or voice concerns.

We Buy Cincinnati Houses [img: Home staging example]

img via: Kendyl YoungCC BY 2.0

10. Will you be helping me stage my home, or do you work with a Home Stager? Who pays for this, and how much is it?

You will most likely pay for Home Staging services, but sometimes an Agent will offer this as a Bonus or Special Offer in order to secure your business.

This is a point to leverage when negotiating fees & terms.

Ask them, “Is staging our home a good investment?”

If they do not think it is necessary, you could always save that money or use it to invest in other marketing strategies.

There are some great Home Staging resources online, if you’d like to consider the DIY route as well.

Great DIY Home Staging Resources (if You’re Considering Whether or Not to Do It Yourself)

HouseLogic, “81 Staging Tips That Help Buyers Fall in Love

Laura Gaskill, “Sell Your Home Fast: 21 Staging Tips

Realtor® Magazine, “Home Staging Guide

11. How will you be marketing my home for sale? What methods will you be using?

As a Buyer, you should ask:

  • How will you search for my new home? Will you use any websites?  MLS?
  • About many homes will I get to see before I find the home I want to buy?
  • Will I be competing against other Buyers?
  • How do you handle a situation where there are multiple offers?
  • Do you present offers by yourself?

As a Seller, you should ask:

  • Specifically, how will you sell my home? What resources will you use to do this?
  • Is a direct mail campaign appropriate? Why or why not?
  • Where and how often do you advertise? Will this cost me anything extra?
  • How will you handle the photography? Do you have some examples I can look at?
  • How do you marketonline? What websites will you use? Will this cost me anything extra?

12. What is your Listing Fee? What specific services does it cover? Is it negotiable?

All real estate fees are negotiable.

While some fees & costs are less negotiable than others, never feel like you’re not allowed to negotiate.

You are allowed to (and should) negotiate when it comes to most real estate fees & services!

Generally, Real Estate Agents charge a percentage, from 1% to 4% to represent one side of a transaction: a seller or a buyer.

A listing agent may charge, for example, 6% total, which would be split between the Seller’s Agent & Buyer’s Agent (3% each) if the Seller’s Agent is not a Dual Agent (bringing both the Buyer & Seller to the transaction).

Some top producers & specialty Brokerages might charge higher or lower fees, so always be very mindful of this before you sign any Listing Agreements.

Ideally, you want to try to pay nothing over a total commission of 6% (3% for each party).

13. Do you offer any discount Listing Packages or Flat Rate Listing services?

While not every Agent or Brokerage offers discounted or flat rate Listings nowadays, many do!

Indeed, there are whole brands built around lower priced Listing models, charging as little as 1% or 1.5% for a full-service Seller Listing.

If you’re interested in taking a more DIY / FSBO route to selling your house, ready to handle the marketing & showings yourself, there are also several companies that will offer a flat rate entry onto the MLS.

In other words, for $250 - $500+ you can have a Real Estate Agent simply list your property on the MLS, then leave the rest to you.

In general, while discount Listing options & Flat Rating Listing services can be valuable they are not reason alone to choose a Real Estate Agent.

Think of it this way:

If a better quality, more experienced, compatible Real Estate Agent can get you another 5% - 10% on the total price of your home at Closing…

What are you really saving on that 1% - 2% commission?

Sell Your Cincinnati House Fast [img: Listing Agreement]

img via: jarmolukCC0

14. Can you share a copy of your Listing Agreement, so I can review it before making my decision?

If the agent allows you to review the forms before you are required to sign them, this is a major plus.  This determines whether or not the agent is transparent—a trait the best agents express.

As a Buyer, request to preview the following forms:

As a Seller, request to preview:

  • Agency Disclosure
  • Listing Agreement
  • Seller Disclosures

15. Can you please share the Names and phone numbers for a few previous references I can call?

Everybody has references.

Even new Agents have references from previous employers.

  • Ask to see references.
  • Ask if any of the individuals providing references are related to the agent.
  • Ask if you can call the references with additional questions.
  • Actually contact the references! This can’t be stressed enough.

It is important to note that if an agent has tons of reviews online, references may not be necessary.

Reviews can speak for themselves, but be wary of fake reviews. Read each review carefully with an eye for any signs that they are just spamming the review sections of Zillow or Facebook or Google.

Sell My House Cincinnati [img: Real estate website review]

img via: PixabayCC0

16. Do you have a website I can review before deciding to work together? If so, will you be listing my home on it?

If they have one, make sure to visit and browse the site.

Does the website look professional?

Is it easy to navigate?

Does it represents your prospective Real Estate Agent in a positive manner?

All of these factors reflect on the agent and the way he/she conducts business.

Plus, an Agent with a better website will likely have more prospective Buyers finding your property online, which means a better chance to sell faster for top dollar.

17. What is your average List-Price-to-Sales-Price ratio?

The List-Price-to-Sales-Price ratio basically just means:

How close to the Asking Price are they getting Clients houses sold for?

The ideal ratio would be 1-to-1, and would mean they sell every single house at the Asking Price.

In some hot markets, the ratio can even be 1-to-1.1 or 1-to-1.2… meaning their average Listing sells for 10% to 20% above than the Asking Price!

It is important to understand that the agent's average ratio here depends on the local market.

That’s why it’s important to not stress too much about these types of ratios - often they are meaningless in a vacuum (without significant industry expertise).

Instead, just use this as another data point to help you decide from a pool of prospective Agents, when interviewing.

18. How will you be able to help me find other professionals if needed, like Inspectors, Loan Officers, Handymen, etc?

Let the Agent explain who she works with and why he/she chooses these vendors.

If the Agent has a good relationship with these professionals, they might give you a good deal on quality work - something anybody would want.

More importantly, your Agent might be your “one stop shop” for all the things you’ll need in the Home Selling or Buying process.

The Agent should be able to supply you with a written list of their vendors (with contact info) including:

  • Mortgage brokers.
  • Home inspectors.
  • Title companies.
  • Handyman / Construction.
  • Photographer.
  • Home Stager.

Make sure to ask if the Agent is receiving any type of compensation for this referral.

You want someone referred due to their high quality of work & dependability… not because they’re giving the Agent a hefty kickback, or charging you a premium for the service.

19. Do you offer any types of guarantees?

Not every Agent or Brokerage will offer any type of Guarantee if you list your home with them, but many do!

And some of these guarantees can be powerful selling points, like:

“We will sell your home in 90 days, or you pay zero commission.”

“If we don’t sell your house, we’ll buy it ourselves.”

While these types of creative guarantees are definitely not necessary to have an excellent experience with your Real Estate Agent, they can also be a great incentive to help you make the best choice.

As important, you’ll also want to generally ask the Agent:

“If I sign an Agreement with you (listing or buying) and later find that I am unhappy with our arrangement, will you let me cancel our agreement?”

Consider asking the following questions as well:

  • “In what ways will you stand behind your service to me?”
  • “What is your company's policy about canceled agreements?”
  • “Has anybody ever Canceled an Agreement/ Withdrawn a Listing with you before? If so, why?”

It’s important to understand an Agent’s guarantees (if any), and what they are doing to stand behind the service they provide.

20. Is there anything I have not asked, but which you think I should know about working with you?

While these 19 questions are probably the most detailed interview the Agent will have ever experienced…

You can’t always think of everything!

Now that you have asked 19 good questions, see what they may have to add.

Pay close attention to how the Agent answers this question.

Often times there is something else you might need to know.

You want an Agent to take their time and make sure you are comfortable with his/her knowledge and experience.

The Agent should know how to listen, how to counsel you, and how to ask the right questions in order to find out what he/she needs to know to better serve you.

These 20 Questions will definitely be a huge leap in the right direction toward finding the right Real Estate Agent for you.

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