First - why hire a listing agent to sell your home? Mainly because you are more than likely to get more money, and have to do much less work. "More for less" vs. trying to sell on your own, and having to work very hard without knowing the tricks of the trade that only experience can bring. What those tricks of the trade are is an entire article, or book, unto itself, but rest assured, any mistake can cost you lots of money in selling too low, or taking too long to sell, or setting yourself up for potential law suits by missing important disclosures.
I'll touch on a few of the key tricks of the trade that you ought to ask about when you are comparing and interviewing Listing Agents. Just about every expert says "interview at least three listing agents". I couldn't agree more, even though that means I'll have at least two competitors each time I meet with a potential Seller client.
So what questions should you ask each Listing Agent? Here are some key ones:
1. How will you attract the most amout of buyers to my home?
2. How will you generate and/or negotiate the highest possible price for my home?
3. What do you do differently than other Listing Agents?
4. Do you offer any guarantees?
5. What is my home worth - show me how you got to that number?
6. What commission do you charge - how does that effect my bottom line?
From the above answers you will discover how confident the Agent is, how knowledgable, and you will have much to compare between the three or more agents you interview. One of the "new" tricks of the trade is use of the internet to attract buyers. The internet has taken over for print (magazines and newspapers) in a big way, and effective use of the internet is only practiced by a small percentage of Listing Agents even though research shows this is what Buyers use to find homes. If Buyers use the internet, why isn't your Listing Agent? If you're selling on your own, are you an internet expert? Do you know how buyers find homes and what they're looking for?
What about commission. The biggest mistake Sellers make is in trying to save commission rather than thinking about how a low commission is more than likely to lead to a much lower sales price. So ask what you're likely to Net in a sale, and how the Listing Agent thinks he/she can get more for your home. But commission is negotiable, and you ought to have a thorough discussion about it. Those that say "take it or leave it" ought to be left in the dust. Keep interviewing until you find a great agent who can illustrate how the commission can actually help you sell your home.
Finally, a true testament to whether or not an agent is experienced is in their "CMA" or Comparable Market Analysis which estimates your home's value in the current market. This requires market expertise, and is one of the most critical elements in any sale since the CMA is what you'll base your "Asking Price" on. Price it too high and you may lose money in the end. In San Francisco, pricing it too low is rarely a mistake, but pricing it just right, is a must to guarantee the most buyers coming through, and the most and best offers.
If you'd like to interview me to get all of the above answers, then just drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org