Estate agents are not miracle workers though and even the best of them can struggle in a tough market. Therefore it's of paramount importance that you choose the right realtor for you. Ultimately it should be an estate agent who knows what they're talking about, has a successful track record and has your best interests at heart. Consider the following points.
Your scheduleIt doesn't matter if you're buying or selling, it will take a lot of time and effort to close a deal on a property. Especially if it's your first time at this particular dance, you might believe it takes little more effort than placing an advert on a website and waiting for the offers to pour in, but this is not the case. There are numerous platforms from which to promote your property, but they will cost money.
A good estate agent should cover all of these costs in their commission rate though and will not only know all of the various avenues through which to push your property, but have at least 8 hours a day in which to push it. A good estate agent should have now more than a few clients at any one time, and should be available to answer phone calls and emails 24/7. They should also be able to cater to your schedule, if they expect you to cater to their schedule; they are not very good at their job.
NegotiationEstate agents earn their keep through commission and their final fee will vary dramatically depending on your country of residence. Realtors can expect between 1% and 3% of the final fee in the UK, whereas in the U.S, 6% or 7% is more common. Either way, the final price will more than likely be higher if you hire an estate agent, so in most cases, the fee is negated to a certain extent.
Taking a U.S perspective, if you want $200,000 from your home sale, you will want the realtor to list it at around $215,000. The fees charged will vary wildly from agent to agent and some might even charge a flat fee for completing a transaction. There might also be dreaded 'hidden fees' to consider, so do your research and make sure you're not being swindled! Ultimately, just don't be afraid to negotiate with your realtor and make sure that you leave yourself a fair amount of wiggle room. And ALWAYS read the fine print!
Use their knowledge to your advantageUltimately, though they might try to dress it up, estate agents are salesmen. Their job is to represent you and sell your home, but they are licensed professionals too. They will have vast reserves of knowledge at their disposal on everything from real estate law, market trends and contract ethics, knowledge they should be putting into effective use when selling your property to prospective buyers. Don't be afraid to ask your potential estate agents questions and quiz them on their methods, as the more you understand about their job, the more you can do to help them do it. Because two heads are better than one and even though you might have a busy life to live, you should be working with your agent to sell your property.
Check their referencesWhen you're embarking on something as serious as selling your home, you should do as much homework as possible. When vetting potential estate agents, don't be afraid to ask questions concerning their track record, or questions that might make you seem uninformed. You can also use online sites such as Agent Harvest to check up on your agent, making sure they are who they say they are and that there are no legal complaints against them. You should also ask them for references from clients they have working with in the past. If they refuse to give you any references, chances are there is a reason!
Don't be afraid to change agentsFinally, before you sign anything, make sure that you are not locked into the agent as even if things look fantastic from the get-go, a few months down the line when things are not going well, you might want to consider a different perspective.
Linda Short has been through numerous estate agents in her time as a property investor. Some of them she wouldn't trust as far as she could throw, but the good ones really are good!