Click on the tabs below for useful information when considering selling your home.
REALTORS® aren’t just real estate agents. They’re members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. When you’re selling a home, here’s what an agent who’s a REALTOR® can do for you.
Act as an expert guide. Selling a home typically requires a variety of forms, reports, disclosures, and other legal and financial documents. A knowledgeable real estate agent will know what’s required in your market, helping you avoid delays and costly mistakes. Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved in a real estate transaction; you want to work with a professional who can speak the language.
Offer objective information and opinions. A great real estate agent will look at your home with an unbiased eye, providing you with the information you need to enhance marketability and maximize price. Agents are also a great source for potential buyers who have questions about local utilities, zoning, schools, contractors, and more.
Deliver property marketing power. Property rarely sells because of advertising alone. A large share of real estate sales come as the result of the listing agent’s contacts with other industry professionals, previous clients, and others in their sphere.
Give you a sense of security. Risk is a fact of life. To minimize it, real estate agents follow protocols to ensure their own safety, as well as the safety and security of you and your property. A professional agent will prescreen prospects and accompany qualified prospects through the property. They’ll also help educate parties about how to prevent fraudulent dealings, such as wire fraud, that can put sales at risk.
Stand in your corner during negotiations. There are many factors up for discussion in any real estate transaction. A real estate professional will look at offers from your perspective, helping you navigate the fine points to ensure you’re meeting your objectives.
Ensure up-to-date experience. Most people sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each sale. Even if you’ve sold a home before, laws and regulations change. Real estate practitioners may handle hundreds or thousands of transactions over the course of their career.
Be your rock during emotional moments. A home is so much more than four walls and a roof. For many owners, selling a home means saying goodbye to the place where cherished family memories were made. Having a concerned but objective third party helps you stay focused on the issues most important to you when emotions threaten to sink an otherwise sound transaction.
Provide fair and ethical treatment. When you’re interviewing agents, ask if they’re a REALTOR®, a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Every member must adhere to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism, serving the interests of clients, and protecting the public. When you work with a REALTOR®, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters.
How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job?
Like most professions, experience is no guarantee of skill. But much of real estate is learned on the job.
How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year?
This will touch on how much experience they have, and how up-to-date they are on the local market.
What designations or certifications do you hold?
Real estate professionals have to take additional specialized training in order to obtain these distinctions. Designations and certifications help define the special skills that an agent can apply to your particular real estate needs. One designation sellers might for is the CRS®, or Certified Residential Specialist, but there are also specialists for military customers, seniors, and those who are considering a short sale, among others.
How many days does it take you to sell a home? How does that compare to others?
The REALTOR® you interview should have information about their performance on hand and be able to present market statistics from their local MLS to provide a comparison.
What’s the average variation between your initial listing and final sales price?
This is one indication of a REALTOR®’s pricing and negotiating skills.
What specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home?
Your agent should have an aggressive, innovative plan and understand how to market property online.
Will you represent me exclusively, or might you also choose to represent the buyer?
While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, your REALTOR® should be able to explain his or her philosophy on client obligations and agency relationships.
Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and so on?
Practitioners should be able to recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with any of the providers.
How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction?
The best answer here is a question. A real estate agent who pays attention to the way you prefer to communicate and responds accordingly will make for the smoothest transaction.
Could you please give me the contact information of your three most recent clients?
Ask their former customers if they would use the agent again in the future.
These questions will help you decide whether you’re ready for a home that’s larger or in a more desirable location. If you answer yes to most of the questions, you may be ready to move.
Have you built substantial equity in your current home?
Check your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out how much you’ve paid down. Usually you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest. But if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.
Has your income or financial situation changed?
If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving. If your income has decreased, you may want to consider downsizing.
Have you outgrown your neighborhood?
The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same one in which you want to settle down for good. You may have realized that you’d like to be closer to your job or live in a better school district.
Are there reasons why you can’t remodel or add on?
Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your municipality doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option.
Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market?
If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy will also be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you’ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home. Ask your real estate professional what they see happening locally.
Are interest rates attractive?
Low rates help you buy “more” home, and also make it easier to find a buyer for your current place.
Is the effort and cost of maintaining your current home becoming difficult to manage?
A REALTOR ® can help you decide whether a smaller house, condo, or rental would be appropriate.
The term “agency” is used in real estate to help determine what legal responsibilities your real estate professional owes to you and other parties in the transaction.
The seller’s representative (also known as a listing agent or seller’s agent) is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller, meaning this person’s job is to get the best price and terms for the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a signed listing contract.
The buyer’s representative (also known as a buyer’s agent) is hired by prospective buyers to and works in the buyer’s best interest throughout the transaction. The buyer can pay the agent directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer’s rep may be paid by the seller or through a commission split with the seller’s agent.
A subagent owes the same fiduciary duties to the agent’s customer as the agent does. Subagency usually arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not the buyer’s agent, shows property to a buyer. The subagent works with the buyer to show the property but owes fiduciary duties to the listing broker and the seller. Although a subagent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller, a buyer customer can expect to be treated honestly by the subagent.
A disclosed dual agent represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. In such relationships, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties to both buyer and seller clients. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, all parties must give their informed consent. Disclosed dual agency is legal in most states, but often requires written consent from all parties.
Designated agents (also called appointed agents) are chosen by a managing broker to act as an exclusive agent of the seller or buyer. This allows the brokerage to avoid problems arising from dual-agency relationships for licensees at the brokerage. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties.
A transaction broker (sometimes referred to as a facilitator) is permitted in states where nonagency relationships are allowed. These relationships vary considerably from state to state. Generally, the duties owed to the consumer in a nonagency relationship are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties of an agency relationship.
Up to $250,000 in capital gains ($500,000 for a married couple) on the home sale is exempt from taxation if you meet the following criteria: (1) You owned and lived in the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years; and (2) you have not sold or exchanged another home during the two years preceding the sale. You may qualify for a reduced exclusion if you otherwise qualify but are short of the two-out-of-the-last-five-years requirement if you meet what the tax law calls “unforeseen circumstances,” such as job loss, divorce, or family medical emergency.