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11 Steps to Selling Your Home Successfully in San Francisco- Step 3: Chosing YOUR Agent

finger-small.jpgSo you’ve gotten your property evaluated by several REALTORS® And you now have a ballpark figure of what to expect to put into your pocket (or your lender’s pocket, depending on how much you owe) after your home sells.
Now comes one of the most critical decisions during the whole process. Who will you choose to represent the sale of your home? I touched on the importance of having the right agent in a segment I have about buying a home. And choosing the right agent to represent you in the sale is JUST as important!
The wrong REALTOR® can end up wasting your time and theirs! And can leave your home with a nasty reputation in the market if it doesn’t sell within a reasonable time frame (and you with an even worse reputation as an unreasonable seller – which means other agents may not take your listing at all if the first agent isn’t able to sell it.)
So, how DO you pick YOUR agent???
If you’ve already been following along with the series, you will have picked a few agents and have looked at the evaluations of your property that they’ve given to you. Now it’s time to look past the agents’ estimated sales price, and look at the agent.
First… all real estate is local, your agent should be too! I was just talking to another San Francisco REALTOR® today… she has a client interested in a big expensive multi-unit building. She has been trying to get the listing agent to show the property for weeks now. However, the listing agent lives and works in Sacramento and isn’t willing to drive to the City just to show the place. Um… well… IF BUYERS CAN’T SEE IT HOW WILL IT SELL??? Sorry… I didn’t mean to yell. But I’ve had a similar situation happen to me and frankly, it just pisses me off to see agents that are NOT doing their jobs. In order to get sold, your property has to be SEEN!
Besides not being around to show the property though, a far-away agent just doesn’t know the San Francisco market like a San Francisco agent. We work our behinds off running around SF every Tueday looking at properties that are for sale. Buyers go to Sunday open houses from 2-4pm, SF agents go to Tuesday Broker/Agent open houses from 9am-4pm. That’s a lot of homes in one day! (And a lot of stairs and hills too!) We get to know the market and we know what works in the market. In short – local agents know what local buyers want!
Second – An agent who is the top listing agent may not be your best choice! That’s not to say that they are “bad”. But just because an agent LISTS the most homes in the neighborhood, doesn’t mean the agent SELLS the most homes in the neighborhood. There’s a few agents in San Francisco that work the numbers game. They get as many listings as possible, and if a majority of them sell, then they’ve made some good money for the year. But getting the listing, and selling the listing are two different things.
Don’t ask your agent “How many listings have you had?” Instead ask “How many of your listings have gone unsold or have expired?” and “What is the average number of days on the market for the properties you’ve listed?”
Third – Don’t go with the highest estimated sales price just because it’s the highest estimated sales price! A good agent will NOT just tell you what you want to hear. And a good agent doesn’t take every listing that comes his/her way. A good agent takes good listings and good sellers! This means that a good REALTOR® will not try to dazzle you with an unrealistically high sales price. And if that REALTOR® thinks that your expecations as a seller are unrealistic, he/she should not take your listing. As agents, we invest our time AND money in a listing (we pay for advertising) and if it doesn’t sell, we’ve lost our time AND money! I for one, have turned several listings away when I knew the sellers were unreasonable.
Fourth – Don’t take the lowest commission! Standard commission rates in SF run around 6%. They are negotiable! Most agents won’t take a listing for less than 5%. Keep in mind, the listing agent has to pay for advertising, and has to spend time (our most valuable commodity) on your listing, and also has to split the commission with the buyer’s agent. If an agent is quick to negotiate his/her commission and accept something less than the standard 6%… how quickly do you think they’ll negotiate for your home’s sales price and accept something less than the best price and terms possible??? You want a strong negotiator on your side, not a wimp! (And frankly, you also get what you pay for… which means a lower commission can lead to less showings of your property, less advertising, and in the end, a lower sales price!)
Finally… find an agent you respect (and hopefully like too!) You are going to be working very closely with your agent to sell your home. Not every agent will fit every seller’s needs and personality. Ideally, you should like your agent and have a good repoire with them. But you are not looking for a friend, you are looking for someone that will sell your home for top dollar and help you achieve your other sale related goals. So you need be sure to hire a REALTOR® that you can respect and know that he/she is out there doing the best job they can do for you!
Once you pick your agent, your job as the seller gets much easier. From here on out, your REALTOR® will be able to guide you in the right direction. And for now that direction is heading towards Step 4 to Selling Your Home Successfully in San Francisco – Getting Your Home Ready For the Sale! So stay tuned!