If you are considering sellingyour home, one of the mostimportant decisions you willmake is which realtor you wantto work with. A good realtor isworth their weight in gold because oftheir experience, sales ability, and contactswith prospects and other agents.The following checklist will give youthe best opportunity to find the rightrealtor for selling your home at thehighest price.
•Work with a top agency. Inmost markets a handful of agenciesdominate. These top agencies typicallyare responsible for a disproportionateamount of the real estate activity, andsince activity is one of the importantcomponents in selling your home,listing with a top agency increasesyour chances of getting more showings.To identify the top agencies, scanthe real estate advertising section ofyour local paper for a couple ofweeks. It should not be too difficultto identify the top agencies.
•Work with a top agent. Afteryou have chosen two or three topagencies, call the offices and ask themanager for the names of the top sellingagents for homes in your area andprice range. Be clear that you are lookingfor someone who is full time in thebusiness and a top seller. Top sellerswill come in two varieties: the veteranagent and the up-and-coming agentwho is aggressively trying to make aname for themselves. Call two to fourof the top agents you have identifiedand let them know you are meetingwith several agents to discuss listingyour home and see if they are interested.Ask them how many homes theyhave sold in your area in the past 2years. If it is less than a half dozen, youmay need to keep looking.
•Ask for a marketing plan. Everyagent has their own style for sellinghomes. You want to know what toexpect once your home is listed. Themarketing plan should address suchitems as how often the agent will holdan open house for prospects, an agent'scaravan or open house, and how oftenand in what medium your home willbe advertised. Ideally, this marketingplan will be in writing and will serve asa guide for future actions. Be sure thismarketing plan includes an agreementabout communication between youand the agent. You will want regularfeedback about how things are going,including what prospects thoughtabout your home as well as what othershowing agents thought.
•Agree on a listing term. Whileno one can predict how long it will taketo sell a property, your agent will havean idea of how long they think it willtake and what the appropriate listingperiod should be. This listing periodshould match up with the marketingplan presented by the agent. If yourhome has not sold by the end of the listingperiod, review the marketing planwith your agent and ascertain whatworked and what didn't. Have theagent outline what changes they wouldmake to the marketing plan going forward.If you are satisfied with the workyour agent has done and the revisedmarketing plan, extend the term of thelisting agreement as you mutually agreeis appropriate. If not, you will have anopportunity to list with another agentusing this same checklist.
Stewart H.Welch III, CFP®, AEP, is the founder
of the Welch Group, LLC, which specializes in
providing fee-only wealth management
services to affluent retirees and health care
professionals throughout the United States.
He is the coauthor of J.K. Lasser's New Rules for Estate and
Tax Planning (John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2001). He welcomes
questions or comments at 800-709-7100 or visit www.welchgroup.com. This article was reprinted with permission
from the Birmingham Post Herald. He thanks his partner
Scott Lee for his assistance with this article.