When word gets out that you're thinking of selling your home, you'll probably hear from a lot of Realtors eager to list your property. Realtors are paid on a commission basis, so the more homes they list and the more that sell, the more they earn. You'll want to come out of the deal with some cash as well, however, so it pays to be choosy. As with any profession, some Realtors are better than others.
Realtor Vs. Agent
A Realtor and a real estate agent are not the same thing. Both must have licensure in your state, but a Realtor is also a member of the National Association of Realtors, and this means a great deal. A Realtor can lose membership for unscrupulous or negligent work. A distinction also exists between agents and brokers. Brokers employ agents and pay them a share of the commission earned from the sale of your property. Your odds of a successful sale usually increase if you select a Realtor who is also a broker. This doesn't necessarily mean that one of the broker's agents won't actually sell your home, but that agent will also be accountable to the Realtor you choose.
Another important consideration is the Realtor's track record. Obviously, you want someone who has successfully sold many homes and has adequate experience. However, a Realtor's professional history can tell you more than that. If you can get a report of the Realtor's sales over the last year or more, you can see the kinds of homes she sells. If your home is top quality with many amenities, a Realtor who has specialized in selling first homes to young buyers may not be right for you. Make sure the Realtor is familiar with your particular neighborhood.
Interviewing the Realtor
Interview Realtors as carefully as you would if you were hiring a nanny for your children. After all, your home is probably one of your most significant assets. Don't sign a listing agreement and go in blind, waiting to find out how hard the Realtor will work to sell your home. Ask up front exactly how she intends to do so and what steps she will take to market your property. It's better to avoid getting locked into a listing agreement than to find out later that she's simply listed your home with the Multiple Listing Service and doesn't plan on doing much else.
Your relationship with your Realtor may be a one-time thing, but you'll still want to choose someone with whom you get along well. The sale of your home is a major transaction, and you and your Realtor will be working closely together. It's also possible that if she gets on your nerves, buyers and buyers' agents might find her irritating as well, which might not bode well for an efficient sale within a short period of time.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally for over 30 years. She specializes in personal finance and w, bankruptcy, and she writes as the tax expert for The Balance.