Business

HOMEFINDER: Finding the agent that fits for you requires good questions

If you plan to have a Realtor sell your home, sit down with prospective agents first to ensure you find someone  who is the right fit for your style and expectations. - Thinkstock photos
If you plan to have a Realtor sell your home, sit down with prospective agents first to ensure you find someone who is the right fit for your style and expectations.
— image credit: Thinkstock photos

Choosing to sell your home is a major life decision, one requiring plenty of forethought and planning.

From there, figuring out how best to put your home in front of potential buyers is the next big challenge. The majority of homeowners turn to real estate agents to market their property.

Many home sellers these days are choosing to take a more active role in finding the right agent to work with. That often includes interviewing prospective salespeople to determine who’s best suited for the job. To help make that decision, some key questions can be asked, say directors with the Victoria Real Estate Board.

“Experience in the market you’re trying to sell in is probably more important than the amount of time they’ve been in the business,” says board president Tim Ayres, whose specialty is the Sooke area. “Being up on your specific market niche is key.”

Asking how much business the agent is carrying – that is, how many listings – can indicate a couple of things, he says. Not only can it give a sense of the volume of potential buyers looking at their properties online and in print, it offers a clue into how much time they have to spend directly with you, as opposed to working with assistants.

“It’s a delicate balance there,” Ayres says. “Something people definitely do too much is go with the person who has the most listings.”

Home sellers often ask him how he plans to market their homes and how their approach might be different than their competition.

Realtor and board director Tony Wick, in his 28th year in the business, acknowledges that technology has streamlined the industry, but will tell prospective clients he still prefers to do things like present offers or counter-offers in person with his clients. He also likes to get on the phone with the purchaser’s agent to find out where they’re at.

“Even as a listing agent, it’s a good idea to talk to the buyer’s agent to hear their side of the story (on price),” he says.

Wick makes sure he creates a clear communication plan with clients.

“It’s important for the seller to know what the agent is going to do, how they’re going to report back on showings. It’s hugely important to get that feedback, even if it’s negative feedback.”

In the current market, prospective buyers are taking longer to make up their minds, a point which increases the need for communication and flexibility in approach. Asking how an agent has dealt with highs and lows in the buying cycle is another good question, Wick says.

Guy Crozier, a 22-year Realtor and president-elect for the board, says buyers increasingly start their home search themselves before getting involved with an agent.

Sellers need to know the advantages of working with an agent – unfettered access to the Multiple Listings Service is one – to help navigate current market dynamics, he says.

“Not only do we try to understand buyers, we try and get inside the seller’s head,” Crozier says. “Then we can make really good decisions together.”

In print, Real Estate Victoria, a Black Press product, has long been considered the region’s leading resource for listings and promoting open houses. Its listings are also now available through Flyerboard at vicnews.com.

Homefinder, appearing in Black Press community papers, is also available to Realtors wishing to market homes for sale in specific areas of the region.

Like Ayres, he says sellers should ask key questions about marketing their home.

“They need to find out how (the agent) will get your home in front of buyers, and what system they have in place to keep it there and make sure we have a smooth process,” he says.

The elephant in the room may be sales commissions. With Greater Victoria agents using various formats to determine percentages, sellers need to be clear at the beginning about their expectations and inquire about any variations to that fee structure.

No matter what Realtor you choose, your single biggest asset needs to be handled with care.

Greater Victoria Market Update

as of Feb, 19, 2014

1,232 -- Active Realtor-members with the Victoria Real Estate Board

250 -- Total properties sold, deals, pending month-to-date

394 -- Total properties sold in February of 2013

3,618 -- Total residential listings (all categories)

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