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Choosing a realtor is very important.  Literally, it can either make or break your home selling experience AND your success. They help set the list price of your home, prepare the marketing materials, stage your home, negotiate on your behalf, and present your home to prospective buyers.

I was very careful in choosing our realtor. First, I took notice of realtor signs in our general area, ads in local newspapers, and other advertising. I found three that I felt had a large presence in our area.

Second, I researched them online. By going to their websites, I was able to see how many properties they had listed, what kinds of properties they were, and the price ranges into which they fell. I wanted someone who had a lot of experience selling single family homes in our price range and someone who knew how to stage a home.

Third, I set up meetings with my top two choices so that I could interview them. I took notice of how they responded to my home. Both played up the best features, but one of them came across as more sincere, and that was very important to me.

Here is a list of questions I asked to access the best realtor for me:

1. What kind of list price would you expect our home to bring?

A prepared realtor will have already done a preliminary market analysis that they will have brought to the interview.

2. What’s your view on holding open houses?

It’s good to know up front if your realtor’s view on open houses melds with yours. In our case, I didn’t like the idea of opening our house to everyone, including those who weren’t interested in buying our house. The realtor we chose only had open houses if the home wasn’t getting a good amount of traffic. That was more than reasonable!

3. What are your fees?

Traditionally, the fees are 6%. 3% goes to your realtor and 3% goes to the buyer’s realtor. However, you can negotiate with your realtor. In our case, we ended up with a 2% commission. If our realtor had ended up acting as the buyer’s agent, we would have only paid 2% on that portion as well.

4. What separates you from your competition?

This question will give you a bit of insight into how your realtor operates. It’s interesting to hear the responses!

5. What’s the average time it typically takes you to sell a home?

If a realtor has homes on the market for long periods of time, they might be doing something wrong. Either the pricing is off, the staging is off, or the house isn’t being marketed properly. I wanted someone who could sell our home in less than 90 days.

6. Could you provide references?

Make sure your contact has at least three references. Ask what they liked and didn’t like about the experience, how long it took to sell their house, and if they were happy with their realtor.

7. What’s your marketing philosophy?

You want to know how they plan to market your house. Ask to see a sample of their marketing materials. You want something that has color pictures, specific details about your home, and the best features highlighted. You also want all of this for your online listing. People want to see a home before they actually visit it!

8. Could you tell me about your staff and how they each contribute?

Ideally, you’d like the person representing you to have a team. If one person is doing it all, they might not be able to give your home the time and attention that it deserves. The realtor we ended up choosing had one person to take pictures and work on the marketing materials, one person who specialized in staging, several realtors, and a couple of office people who worked the phones, put up signage, etc.

Once you have the answers to these questions and have had a chance to meet the realtors in person, you should have a good idea of who you would like to have representing you!  It really does make all the difference.  We were able to sell our house in 24 hours after it listed at a price $15,000 higher than our realtors expected!

This has been a guest post by Tammy from Springfield, VA
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