Home buyers now have the advantage in today's real estate market, as millions of "for sale" signs rust away in front yards of what once used to be fast selling neighborhoods. This isn't a real estate market that has a steady stream of willing and able buyers like you had a year and a half ago, where prospects were waiting in line for the opportunity to purchase the house of their dreams. For sellers, the cyclical return to a buyer's market means that it's important to choose the right broker / agent. If you're selling your house in a buyer's market, you need to find a good real estate agent and price the house competitively.
Listed below are 5 basic rules of strategy for you to use to receive top dollar for yourhome in a buyer's housing market.
1. Find and interview potential agents. The first thing to do is find and interview at least a couple of candidates for the job. You might want to start by calling an agent who has been "farming" the neighborhood by mailing postcards every few weeks or giving away magnetic calendars to stick on the refrigerator. The one drawback is that just because this agent chose your neighborhood, doesn't necessarily mean you should choose that agent. I would suggest calling a reputable real estate brokerage and asking for the relocation director.
2. Assess candidates' knowledge and experience. After you have identified two or more prospective agents, you have to conduct the job interviews. First up: assess their knowledge and experience. Ask for some hard facts that a good agent should know about the current market in your area such as the average time that property has been on the market in your neighborhood and in the metro area, and the average time that agent's houses have been on the market. The other thing I would ask is: Tell me about your track record. What kind of transactions have you had? Tell me about what you've sold. Experience is subjective, it's not always about how much real estate the agent has sold, but their ability and willingness to step up and get the job done.
3. Get a communicator. On the other hand, a good agent will be honest. If they don't know the answer to something they will say, I don't know, but I'll get back to you soon with an answer. When people bluff, they tend to get into trouble. You want an agent who will communicate with you on a regular basis. When interviewing agents, tell them how often, and how you want to be contacted, e-mail, cell phone etc.. Some agents can't be called directly, but only through a switchboard -- like a doctor after office hours. There are two basic reasons for an agent to contact you. One is to let you know that the agent is still alive and working. The other is to set up showings, relay offers and counteroffers, and to pass along feed-back from potential buyers. An alert agent will tell you quickly if, buyers consistently object to a specific item in the property, such as the paint color in the family room, so you'll know to repaint it.
4. Check the marketing plan. When you're interviewing a prospective real estate agent, the most important questions have to do with marketing the real estate and pricing it correctly. Ask to see the marketing plan for your property, and what do you have or can do that's different or better than the next agent I'm going to call? Let the agent know if you expect an ad in the newspaper every Sunday. Will the agent prepare a brochure? If so, who do the brochures go to, other agents, or potential buyers, or both? "Get specifics, ask to see an example of the kind of brochure the agent is going to do, the kind of Web page, the virtual tour, etc...-- all of that. Experts say that about 70 percent of real estate searches begin on the Internet. For that reason, agents need to have complete comfort and experience on the Internet, not only that they do a little e-mail communication and they check it once a day. You want someone who knows the technology and is completely comfortable with it -- an agent who can take photos that make the house look good online and prepare a descriptive, immersive Web page. Ask where the listing will go online. The answer you want to hear is, the broker's Web site, and the local Multiple Listing Service site, and that all other brokers will be allowed to add the listing to their Web sites.
5. Determine the correct asking price. Don't base your choice on an agent who tells you the house is worth the most. The worst thing you can do is to price your home too high. Potential willing and able buyers will ignore the house or they won't even notice it at all if they're searching on the Web by price range and your house is priced artificially above their upper limits. How do you know which is the right asking price? You can never know for sure. A good agent will prepare a detailed "Competitive Market Analysis" (CMA), that will show real estate currently listed for sale and all the property that has sold recently within the past 6 months to a year including how long has the real estate been on the market. The CMA will indicate the probable list price that your home should be at to compete in your local market area. When you look at all that detailed information; the right list price becomes very evident.