There are all kinds of ways to choose a real estate agent to sell your house. You may use your brother-in-law, for example, or take a recommendation from a co-worker. But according to an informal survey of agents from across the country, there are plenty of things you shouldn't consider.
The aforementioned relative is one. "I'm sorry, but you just can't mix business and family," said Liane Jamason of Smith & Associates Real Estate in
Don't go with an agent just because he or she has the most listings or the most signs up in the neighborhood, say some of the realty pros. Those agents are probably overextended. If they have lots of listings, said Karen Netterstrom-Dooley of Re/Max Elite in
Somewhat surprisingly, the agents who answered the question, "What one attribute would you look for if you were hiring an agent to sell your house?" tend not to think too much of professional designations, the agent's brand or whether he is part of a team.
While the letters behind a name signal a certain degree of professionalism and extra education, many agents said they meant little. "Designations mean nothing to me. I have worked with agents who have their walls lined with them and they are lost," said Kenneth Nance of Only Way Realty in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Some respondents believe being affiliated with a large, well-known brokerage is an advantage. But Bev Hourlier of HC Realty Services in San Diego said it doesn't guarantee the agent is any better qualified or trained than an agent from a smaller firm.
Respondents had plenty of comments about the attributes that indicate a standout agent. Here are the ones that seemed to rise to the top:
Rapport. Agents used all kids of terms to indicate how you "click" with an agent, including philosophy, presence, personality, integrity and trust.
"Chemistry," said Allan Glass of ASG Real Estate in Los Angeles. "Clients who don't establish a personal connection with their agent or broker will put themselves at a disadvantage."
Emily Morrison Griffin of John L. Scott Real Estate in Seattle agreed. "There has to be that special spark that makes you and your Realtor a great team."
"All other characteristics are secondary … to the ability to trust your agent," said Lou Sansevero of the Re/Max Alliance Group in Sarasota, Fla.
Referrals. Referrals are "golden," advised Joshua Hanoud of Tropic Shores Realty in
Beware, though, warned Paul Howard of NJHomeBuyer.com Realty in
References. Cindy Greenwald of Prudential California Realty in La Jolla wants to see the agent's current list — not more than 90 days old — of clients. Brenda Cunningham of West USA Realty in Mesa, Ariz., looks for someone who has used the agent for more than one transaction.
Kimberly Tapscott of Keller Williams Prestige Properties in
Experience. There's nothing like a proven track record, said Sandra Geary of Re/Max Pros in Rohnert Park, Calif. "While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate, like many other professions, is mostly learned on the job," said Rae Catanese of Prudential Tropical Realty in Tampa.
Sales volume. Isabel Williams of Keller Williams Luxury Homes in
Kirstin Willingham of Bergman Beach Properties in Marina del Rey, Calif., pointed out that recent sales volume is most important because today's market is far different from just a few months ago.
And Harold Huggins of Harold H. Huggins Realty in
Other statistics. A key ratio for Robert Kelly of Re/Max Main St. Realty in
Another important number is average days on the market. "An agent whose days-on-market average is 35 or less also is doing a great job," Kelly said.
Technology. Because nearly 8 out of 10 buyers start their home searches online, today's marketing is more than just sticking a sign in the front yard. Technology is essential for word-of-mouth advertising and viral media campaigns, said Florida agent Catanese. Can your agent prepare a YouTube video? Can he or she respond in an instant?
Check the agent's online presence, advised Ines Hegedus-Garcia of Majestic Properties in Miami. An agent who knows how to market himself should also be able to market properties, she said.
Photography. Pictures are "the language of real estate, yet most agents' look like they were taking pictures while drunk with a cellphone," said Hanoud in Florida. "The level of detail needed for good photography is usually indicative of an agent's attention to detail throughout the process."
Listening skills. "I want (agents) to answer my questions clearly and be able to explain the process of buying and selling," said Teri Andrews-Murch of Lyon Real Estate in Auburn, Calif.
Asked Barry Sulpor of Shorewood Realtors in