Real Estate Matters: Finding the right real estate agent is a key step in selling a home

October 25, 2013

How do we find a good real estate agent to help us sell our house? The last agent we used asked us to move out and rent an apartment before the buyer inspected our house or closed on the purchase. We refused. Then she asked us to sign a paper that said we would fix everything the buyers requested as repairs to the home. She also asked us to install a new roof by making a claim with the insurance company and suggested that the roofers would not charge the deductible.

No one tried to negotiate any of these matters on our behalf, and the buyers backed out of the deal. This is the second similar experience we’ve had with real estate agents.

Something doesn’t smell right. On the one hand, you seem to have found some real estate agents that don’t appear to have your interest at heart. Your real estate agent should be your advocate and work to help you through the real estate transaction. Yours are behaving in a counterintuitive manner, which leads us to believe something else is going on.

While we take your letter at face value, we’re wondering what your home looks like inside and out. Did you fail to repair serious roof damage and now your house is covered in mold? Are you “hoarders,” and is your home filled to the brim with junk?

If two real estate agents have been trying to get you to move out of the home, they may be sending you a signal that your home isn’t salable in its current condition — a fact that may be difficult to convey more directly.

We know of situations where sellers think their home should sell as is but is a hard sell due to the seller’s own actions. We wonder if you’ve taken a step back to assess how your home looks with all of your belongings in it and the damage to your roof. Would your home look better without your personal goods (and that’s why the real estate agent feels that moving out would allow the home to show better)?

Every seller should try to take an objective look at his or her home. Sometimes This isn’t easy to do. But you have to try and imagine what you could do to your home to make it look better.sellers should discard as much stuff as possible. We call that “decluttering.” You might even want to pack and put away photographs and other personal items. You should make your home as open and light as possible, and that might include removing some furniture and perhaps some curtains and making the rooms seem as big and open as possible

If you can’t imagine what this might look like, turn on HGTV any night of the week and spend a few hours watching how homes are transformed by professional stagers into properties that are sell-ready.

In essence, you need to figure out if the issue is with you and your home or with your choice of real estate agents.

If the problem you’re having is in finding a good real estate agent, we’d suggest you ask friends, neighbors, accountants and attorneys you may know for a good referral. You also should look around your neighborhood and see what real estate companies have the greatest number of listings there. Once you have the names of a couple of companies, you can see whether you can figure out which real estate agents actively work in your area.

Once you have those names, you can interview the agents and see whether they are a good fit with you. Personalities are quite important when you choose an agent. If the agent is pushy and won’t listen to you, your relationship may be rocky from the start. If the agent says only things that please you, you may have found an agent unwilling to be honest with you.

A good real estate agent will not only give you information about properties in your area — your competition — but will also tell you what’s wrong with your house to make your home sell quicker.

We’ve written quite a bit in the past about finding the right broker for each particular seller. A good place to start is with other sellers that have been satisfied with the services provided by a listing agent.

Don’t just ask for a name. You should also ask about what they liked about the agent, how the agent treated them, the services the agent provided, the response time to requests, feedback from showings of their homes, whether the agent did the work or had associates doing most of the chores and whether the agent was a good advocate during the negotiations and through the closing process.

Good agents don’t simply walk through the door. You need to do some legwork to find a good one.

Ilyce R. Glink ’s latest book is “Buy, Close, Move In! Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate lawyer. If you have questions, you can call Glink’s radio show (800-972-8255) any Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact Glink and Tamkin through the Web site thinkglink.com.

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