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real_estateHaving made the decision to downsize, my wife and I did what most people do when selling a home – we asked friends and family for realtor referrals – and boy did we get them.

But we soon discovered that just because you sold my brother’s home quickly doesn’t mean you’ll accomplish the same outcome with mine.  We learned that the hard way.  So let me share with you how I plan to choose my next realtor and avoid another failed relationship.

First, my take on what the seller-realtor relationship really is.  As the seller, I’m providing a piece of inventory (my home).  In selecting a realtor, I’m hiring a salesperson (and to a lesser extent the agency behind them) to find a buyer for my piece of inventory.  And I’m offering them what seems by any measure, a huge commission for doing so (in my case more than $25,000).

For that, I expect what any sales manager expects: find a qualified, interested prospect, and make a deal happen.  Sounds reasonable, right?  The problem is, most realtors don’t see it the same way.  Most realtors live in a Field of Dreams – believing that “if we list it, they will come.”

They might – eventually.  But that’s not worth anywhere close to $25,000.  So – as I prepare to interview replacement realtors, here are the questions I’m going to be asking – and expecting good answers to.

  • What is your specific plan to market my home? I happen to believe that taking a few pictures, putting a listing on the internet, and placing a sign in the yard is ‘passive’ marketing at best.  I’m expecting an active, outbound marketing plan.
  • What is your specific plan to identify prospects for our home? This is the big question, and I expect a well thought out answer.  Tell me about your rolodex.  Tell me what you do to build a database of buyers, understand their motivation, their timeline, and their wish-list.  How do you network with buyer’s agents.  Tell me what kind of people buy in my neighborhood, why, and where you’ll find more of them.
  • When we have a showing, what is your standard operating procedure? This has been a great frustration of mine.  We’ve had showings.  And we get timely feedback.  What drives me insane is when the two realtors don’t talk to one another to try and make a deal happen.  That should be their objective – so when I get feedback like, “we didn’t like the color of the carpet,” it’s a clear indication to me that absolutely no selling took place by either realtor, and my insane-o-meter goes on tilt.  Talk people – make a deal happen!
  • What should our expectations be – what does a timeline look like – what are the benchmarks that will tell us we’re on track or off track – and what should be the consequences of failing to reach those benchmarks? What should we expect?  When is our house likely to sell – and for what price?  I want to be communicated with – what’s happening, what are you doing to stimulate activity, what’s next, what are you thinking about trying?  I want to know how many showing we should expect in the first 30 days, 60 days, 90 days?  I want to know when and why you might recommend an open house or a price adjustment.

Notice that none of my questions are about price.  Sure price is important – but selling a home is about finding a buyer who becomes emotionally attached to the idea of making my home, their next home.  Price will sort itself out from there.

So if you’re considering the sale of your home, or if you’ve ever had an unsatisfying real estate experience, consider these questions.  If you’re a realtor yourself, have good answers to those questions.  Who knows – I might even hire you.