Considering selling your home? What to look for in a listing agent

Hank Bailey
Hank Bailey
Published on February 28, 2019

When you want to sell your home, don’t bother asking Alexa because when I already asked Google how to find a real estate agent near me, it gave me back more than 470 million results. True story.

Read some of those online search results from Google, and you’ll walk away only more confused. It seems like every real estate agent on the planet is an “expert” when it comes to helping you sell your home.

Remember that a listing agent’s primary duty is to market his or her client’s home. While it’s important to feel comfortable with the agent you choose, you aren’t looking for a friendship. You are looking for someone who knows how to market. More than that, someone who gets results.

I’ve learned over the years that good listing agents share three qualities or characteristics.

Good listing agents are great communicators

What’s the biggest complaint about real estate agents? That the majority of real estate agents are unresponsive. Not just phone calls, but even texts and emails go un-returned for long periods of time. Or agents take forever to get back to their clients. I sat with one couple last night on a listing appointment whose house has been on the market for almost ‘250’ days! They told me that last of late it takes a day or two for their agent to get back to them on the most minor questions.

What’s too bad is that so many real estate agents are unable to put themselves in their clients’ shoes. So, look for an agent who does see things from your perspective. Seek out a listing agent who responds quickly to your texts, emails, and calls who is able to effectively communicate the sometimes-complicated aspects of the home-selling process. You can tell by how fast they return your first call or text. Does it take all day or are they almost immediately texting you back even if in a meeting to let you know they got your message and will be in touch? That’s the sign of an agent you want working for you!

If I were you, this is how I’d look at this. That period of time that your home is on the market may be stressful at times. Especially if you are a first-time home seller.

To get the best results, before you hire an agent, look at what their clients have said about them. Look at their past sales.  Gauge who they were working for in those transactions, i.e. was it the buyer or the seller that they represented the most.  All these things can be viewed on an agent’s Zillow profile! The couple I mentioned above had used this same agent to purchase their home.  A word of advice.  Just because that agent was a great buyer’s agent and helped you get into the house you currently live in, it does not mean that they know how to list and market a home effectively!

The best real estate agents have abundant experience in pricing homes

It’s true that the homeowner has the final say in how much a home is listed for and, naturally, buyers have the final say in how much the home eventually sells for.

A good listing agent, however, analyzes the market to determine a home’s current market value and makes suggestions to the homeowner regarding pricing.

Pricing is a critical decision for the homeowner. Price the home too high and there will be little interest. Price it too low and there’s the threat you’ll leave money on the table.

When interviewing agents, please beware of the listing agent whose pricing suggestion is significantly higher than expected or higher than other agents have recommended.

That’s an old tactic, but it’s known as “buying the listing.”

The best listing agent is a marketer first

You always hear “sales and marketing” in the same phrase.  Yet, until you get an offer in your hands, listing a house is about the marketing. Marketing professionals I’m sure laugh at the haphazard attempts of some real estate agents who employ the “list and pray” strategy. Agents that do the basics, like installing a “for sale” sign, placing a lock box on the door and, of course, taking 5-10 minutes to add a cursory listing in the Multiple Listing Service. Oh, they’ll whip their iPhone’s out and snap some nice photos (or not).

Then, they’ll sit back and pray that another agent brings in a buyer and sells their listing.

Kind of sad, isn’t it? In some real estate markets, it may even work. Yet, why take that chance on your most valuable asset? Your home!

Marketing a home for sale requires knowledge of the ideal potential buyer for your home and then focus-targeting that group. It requires a multi-level approach, first and foremost including a robust online marketing plan.

Marketing real estate for sale is the most important aspect of a listing agent’s job, which is why I take our marketing plan so seriously.

As you interview real estate agents for the job of marketing and selling your home, pay close attention to how they market themselves. Ask for information on how they plan to market your home.

Call, text, and email those agents to find out how responsive they are. Want to have some fun.  Email them a question about the selling process after 9pm and see who responds? Try a text too on that same question.  I’d bet 1 in 5 responds back, but the one who does, is the type of agent you want to partner with through this process of selling!

Avoid those who don’t return calls, can’t clearly answer your questions, and who offer “less than professional” marketing plans.

This is an important job you’re interviewing for so let me encourage you to take your time and hire smart!

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