Finding a Realtor is easy. Just throw a rock in any direction, and you’re bound to hit someone who’s an agent themselves, or who knows one. Knowing how to find the right Realtor to list your home on the other hand, is easier said than done.
See, effectively listing a property in Orange County is an art form. It takes a lot more hard work than simply slapping something up on the MLS and calling it a day. You’re relying on your agent to sell your home quickly for top dollar. Therefore, it’s imperative that they will put in the work needed. This means positioning your home attractively in front of as many people as possible, and helping you close on the best offer quickly.
Additionally, you’ll be spending quite a bit of time with your agent over several months. Thus, it’s critical that you find someone whom you trust and can relate to. In our experience, the top three things to look for are the agent’s personality, marketing plan, and communication skills. Let’s go into each in depth.
How to Find the Right Realtor: Personality Traits
There’s no universal rule of thumb when it comes to what personality will mesh best with you. Regardless, it’s safe to say that there are some bare minimum standards a real estate agent should meet.
We put this first for a reason. You can find the most experienced, qualified real estate agent in the world, but if they’re not honest with you, you’ll likely have a poor experience. It should go without saying that you need to be able to trust the person you’ve tasked with selling one of the biggest assets that you own. You need someone who will tell you the truth, even if it’s not what you want to hear.
Selling real estate isn’t a job for amateurs—at least, they shouldn’t be learning with your home! Orange County real estate in particular is fast-moving. What may seem like a small mistake can end up costing you thousands in lost profits. You want someone who knows your area, understands local market trends and seasonality, and can help prevent any mistakes that might put an otherwise smooth transaction at risk of falling through.
The real estate industry is always innovating and adopting new technology. The local housing markets constantly change due to politics, the economy, population migration patterns, natural disasters, and—as we’ve seen recently—global pandemics. Understanding all of this requires ongoing education. Agents who aren’t passionate about staying current will be left behind.
Websites like the MLS and Zillow will get your home in front of many prospective buyers. However, that’s only a small part of the battle. A robust network of other agents and professionals who work in complementary industries is just as important. This is why the country’s top agents are always heavily involved in their local communities. The more people an agent knows, the more likely it is their network knows someone looking to buy the property that the agent is selling.
When it’s time to negotiate, sharks rule the water. You don’t want someone who is going to fold to the buyers’ every whim on your team. You need someone who can think on their feet, come from a position of knowledgeable confidence, and do what’s needed to ensure you get the best sales price and terms possible for your property. At the same time, they need to avoid an overly-aggressive approach that can alienate buyers, their agents and ruin deals.
There’s no bigger disservice to a listing agent’s clients than being hard to reach by buyer’s agents. This is the main manner in which potential deals are lost. Interested prospective buyers will ask their agent to schedule a showing, but if there’s no response, the buyers will move on to other properties. This means they’ll end up buying someone else’s home instead of yours.
How to Find the Right Realtor: Home Listing Strategy
The success of selling a home largely depends on the agent’s strategic plan. This strategic approach is why our listings sell faster and for more money than properties sold directly by owners.
A great marketing plan starts before the property is ready to put on the market. At Polara Realty, we call this a home pre-listing audit. It involves the following:
- Seller Interview: Selling a home without understanding the seller’s expectations is a fool’s errand. The same applies for the history of the home. Both are critical elements of the marketing plan’s foundation. That’s why this is the very first part of our process.
- Home Inspection: While buyers will order a home inspection, it’s important to identify issues before putting the house up for sale. This allows you to decide if you want to fix anything first. It will also help you provide more comprehensive disclosures to the buyer. This can prevent the heart-wrenching bailouts at the last minute due to problems discovered during the inspection.
- Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): Pricing a home is anything but arbitrary. Home buyers may act on emotion, but any buyer’s agent worth their salt will use comparable sales to guide the offer price. Also, if the home is too overpriced, you may not attract any buyers at all. Proper pricing starts with a CMA, and is then further clarified during the seller interview and home inspection.
Comprehensive Marketing Plan
Once the pre-listing audit is completed, your home is ready for the MLS. At this point, your agent should begin executing their marketing plan. The goal is to get your home in front of as many prospects as possible. You should ask any agent you’re considering for an outline of their marketing plan when you first interview them. It should include all of the following:
- Staging advice and/or expert referral, if needed
- MLS exposure with a well-written property description
- 30-50 professional photos
- A virtual tour video
- A targeted ad campaign on social media
- Promotion on all major real estate websites
- A mailing campaign to local neighborhood residents
- Sharing property with professional network
- A broker’s open house
- Two open houses or virtual open houses
- A feedback report after every showing
- An updated CMA provided every 30 days
- Newly-listed comparable properties in your area provided every 30 days
- Professional property signage
- A lockbox with electronic monitoring
How to Find the Right Realtor: Communication Expectations
As previously mentioned, communication between you, your agent, and prospective buyers can literally make or break the sale of your property. In our experience, the main reason people end up with poorly-communicating agents is because there were no expectations set in the beginning.
Define your needs before you hire an agent. This will allow you to pay attention to their communication skills when first interviewing them. If you notice warning signs, you can more easily avoid getting into a working relationship with them upfront. You’ll also ensure your agent is in alignment with you.
If you’re someone who expects biweekly updates, it’s important to let your agent know. That way, they can be sure to schedule a biweekly call with you in their calendar. On the other hand, maybe you’re someone who doesn’t want to be followed up with so often. Letting your agent know this is equally important, so they’re not calling you more than you’d like.
Regardless of other factors, your agent (or their team) should be available 7 days per week. They should return your missed calls within 1-2 hours max. The same availability applies with regards to prospective buyers and their agents. The last thing you want is a motivated buyer passing on your home because your agent didn’t get back to them in a reasonable time frame.
If you have any questions about how to find the right realtor in your neighborhood, please let me know in the comments, or you can contact us if you’d like to discuss specifics of listing your home in more detail.