5 Things to Ask a Realtor: Sellers’ Edition

by James Florence
Carmen Miranda ask the realtor questions

Before hiring a Realtor to help you sell your home, it’s wise to ask them plenty of questions. Photo: Carmen Miranda – Alain Pinel Realtors ©2018

When planning to sell your home, one of the first things you’ll need to do is find a Realtor. However, you don’t want just any Realtor—you want one who’s dependable and proactive. After all, nothing stifles a home’s chances of being sold like an agent who doesn’t put forth the effort. In addition to getting references, a good way to evaluate a Realtor is to ask a lot of questions and gauge their responses. Here are five good questions to ask:

  1. When should I sell my home?

In many parts of the United States, weather-related constraints make real estate sales a seasonal affair. Fortunately for Bay Area homeowners, the temperate climate allows home sales to take place all year long. However, it’s still wise to consider seasonal factors when determining the right time to list your Bay Area home.

For example, summer can be an especially lucrative season to sell, as many people choose to relocate during this time of year. Additionally, one often-overlooked factor is school registration times. Since many people choose homes based on their proximity to local schools, listing yours around registration season can be a good strategy.

Furthermore, it’s a good idea to assess your personal circumstances. Even if you’ve heard April is a great month to sell, it may not be a great time for you, particularly if you have a lot going on in your life. Selling a home can be a stressful and emotional experience, so you need to make sure you’re in a place of personal readiness. Ask the Realtor for their advice on timing your home sale with regard to both seasonality and your current circumstances.

real estate property for sale

When interviewing a Realtor, ask what kinds of marketing strategies they typically employ. Photo: Sheila Deignan – Better Homes and Garden Real Estate|Wine Country Group ©2018

  1. How will you market my property?

A strategic marketing campaign can make all the difference in the outcome of a home sale. Ask the Realtor what kinds of marketing outlets and resources they’ll utilize to get the word out about your property. While traditional outlets like printed real estate catalogues and newspaper ads are still valuable, these days it’s more important to have a digital presence, as more buyers are choosing to browse listings online. Make sure the Realtor you hire is well-versed in creating and managing digital listings.

Another real estate marketing staple is to hold open house events so interested buyers can get a look at the property in person. While open houses are still a common practice, the prevalence of online marketing has decreased their necessity. In some cases, an open house can be worthwhile; in others, it may be deemed a superfluous measure. Ask the Realtor whether they think an open house will benefit your marketing campaign and why.

  1. How should I determine the right price for my home?

Pricing a property isn’t as simple as it might seem. The first step is to determine the home’s approximate value. This is primarily done via comparables, or “comps”—a set of criteria (including sale price, age, size and square footage) by which comparisons are drawn between the sale property and other recently sold properties in the neighborhood. Using comps, a seasoned Realtor can accurately calculate and approximate a property’s value.

Even if calculated accurately, a property’s estimated value may not correspond to the actual asking price. If you want your home to sell, you need to price it in accordance with the market, which, depending on whether it’s a buyers’ or sellers’ market, may be below or above its calculated value. A knowledgeable Realtor will be able to factor in market conditions and recommend an appropriate asking price.

Besides pricing to the market, a Realtor may employ additional selling strategies, like pricing the property a little below market value during its initial two weeks on the market. This may sound like a bad idea, but it’s actually quite shrewd. The intent is to attract a large number of buyers, receive multiple offers and set off a bidding war. As buyers submit competing bids, the home’s price will gradually increase, potentially above what you anticipated. Ask the Realtor what types of pricing strategies they typically employ.

staged home for sale

Staging is a popular real estate technique for enhancing a sale property’s visual appeal. Photo: The Dave Keefe Real Estate Team ©2018

  1. How can I increase my property’s sales appeal?

Property presentation is a crucial aspect of selling a residential property. This is primarily achieved with staging, a real estate technique for enhancing a property’s visual appeal. Beyond creating a clean, tidy appearance, staging involves strategic arrangement of furniture and plants, lighting, and use of color. Real estate agents will sometimes bring in rented furniture and other visual aids to achieve the desired aesthetic effect.

One of staging’s key goals is creating an attractive, neutral environment where buyers can envision themselves living. Additionally, staging can broaden a home’s appeal to buyers who may not have otherwise considered it due to certain factors. For example, if a home is small in size, good staging can interpret this characteristic differently and show it in a more positive light. Ask the Realtor what types of staging techniques they would recommend for showcasing your home.

Another critical aspect of presentation is enhancing “curb appeal” by making the home’s façade and front yard as attractive as possible. After all, whether viewed online or in person, this will likely be the first part of the home potential buyers see. Besides basic cleaning and landscaping measures, common curb appeal enhancements include planting new flowers and repainting the front door. Ask the Realtor for their recommendations on boosting your home’s curb appeal.

  1. Do you hold any specialized industry certifications?

Besides earning their real estate license, a Realtor can earn additional certifications that exhibit their expertise in particular areas of their field. For residential sellers, designations to look for include Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Residential Accredited Appraiser (RAA) and Seller Representative Specialist (SRS). Choosing a Realtor whose professional strengths align with your needs can increase your chances of achieving your home sale goals.

To find a Diamond Certified Realtor in your area, visit www.diamondcertified.org.