Selling Your Seattle Home

8 Things You Need To Ask Before Listing Your Home With An Agent

You’re looking for an agent to list your house.

If this is your first time listing a home, usually you will set a night or weekend for “listing appointments” to meet with a few different agents to see who will work best with you. The list below will help you be prepared and will give you some guidelines to follow.

If you’ve already listed your house once but it didn’t sell, I’m sorry to hear that. I really am. I completely understand how frustrating that can be. Whether you tried listing it yourself or you used an agent that didn’t work, having a home that hasn’t sold can be very aggravating as you’re trying to move on.

Something to watch for is a CMA or Comparable Market Analysis. Often agents will come into a listing appointment with a CMA that they’ve done in advance to tell you what your house or property is worth. CMA, is a valuable tool, when used properly. Personally, I don’t like to set a number until I’ve seen the inside of a house or walked the property first. It’s much easier and more accurate for the agent to see first hand the condition of the property as pictures and market analysis alone can be misleading. The compilation of visual inspection and market analysis give the agent a more holistic view of what your property is actually worth.

Whether you are in the market for an agent for the first time or are in the market for another agent, here I are some questions I suggest asking the next time you interview real estate agents.

#1: What’s your experience?

You want to find out the real estate agent’s experience level. There is a certain knowledge and skill set that comes with marketing certain types of homes. You want to make sure that your agent has the skill set to market and sell your home or property.

How many years have they been involved in real estate? Have they sold homes like yours before?

#2: How do you plan on marketing this home?

Every real estate agent should have a marketing plan. In competitive markets, there are too many agents that will not work hard on your listing because they think the demand alone will sell the property.

Will they be bringing in a professional photographer? Will they be developing marketing material?

Do they plan on doing open houses? When would they be?

How will they be showing the home? Open house? Broker showings?

#3: What do you think the home is worth?

Some agents will tell you anything you want to hear in order to get a listing. You don’t want that agent. You want an agent that actually evaluates what the price should be and will tell you if your expectations are too high or not. Choose an agent that understands the market.

Here’s a trick question. Is the agent telling you what THEY think the home is worth or are they just telling you what YOU think your home is worth in order to get the listing?

#4: How did you come up with the price of my home/property?

This is really important. At some point a buyer is going to be getting a loan for the purchase of your listing. If the house or property is way over priced, the bank will not fund the loan and your whole deal will fall apart. So you want an agent who will get a legitimate price range for the home or property based on actual data.

Did they use a CMA? The CMA is used to see what similar homes in your area have actually sold for in the last six months. This is the single best way to gauge what your home is worth. However, you want your agent to do a CMA AFTER viewing the home. Because every home has different features so the only way to tailor the sale to your specific home is to see it in person.

#5: What should I do to prepare this home for sale?

This is another important question. You want your agent to evaluate what needs to be fixed, what is and is not worth fixing, and what fixes will bring you immediate return on your investment. You do not want to spend money if you don’t need to.

Is your home ready for sale? What fixes to your home does the agent believe needs to happen to get the highest offer?

Does your home need staging? Is there landscaping that needs to been done? What, if anything, will help you sell this place for more money?

#6: How long do you expect for it to take this home to sell?

An agent should know the typical number of days it will take for homes in your price range and in your area to sell. This is a very data driven business and a good agent will be knowledgeable about important statistics like this. If your home is in good condition and priced correctly, it should sell in a certain average amount of time.

How many days do you think it will take to get offers? Is there anything about this home that will make it take longer than normal to sell?

#7: How many other clients are you currently working with?

Some people think this question is about finding out the success rate of an agent. It isn’t.

This question is about time.

It’s about their business model and their goals. Some agents have the need to sell as many houses as possible, so they are just listing any house they can get a hold of. Others, like myself, choose to focus on each client and be there for them, so they take on a limited number of clients at one time, that way no client is being shortchanged.

While it might sound great to have a real estate agent that appears super busy and successful, the question I would be wondering is; Do they have time for me? Do they have time to dedicate to marketing my home to the best of their ability while working with a dozen other clients?

#8: How will you keep me updated on the progress of the sale?

Communication is one of the top things to look for in an agent. Without communication, the transaction becomes stressful. It’s good to determine early on with your agent how often they will be keeping you updated on the progress of the sale and how will they do that. Personally, I tend to do whatever my client prefers.

Does your agent have a preference on communication? Do you? Does their communication style and preference match yours?

In Summary

There are a whole host of questions and follow up questions to be asking potential agents. This list is a great start. Clear answers to these questions should set you on the right path. I also believe very much in going with your gut. Which agent do you feel best about going with? Will they look out for your best interests? Do you trust them?

Selling your home is a big process but with the right agent at the helm, the process can be smooth.


Silas Lindenstein is a real estate broker with Skyline Properties in the Seattle area.
Email – [email protected]
Call – 206.351.9230
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