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10 Questions To Ask a Luxury Real Estate Agent When Selling 

 

Here’s a truth that I’ve discovered in my Real Estate practice. 

By the time a homeowner contacts me to sell their home, they have made the decision and are ready to sell. What they may not be ready for is the emotional journey that accompanies such a large financial transaction. As a home seller, you will be bringing an agent into your life, into your home, sharing your finances, and exposing the good, bad and ugly about one of your most precious assets: your home.

A successful journey hinges on one thing: TRUST.

Here are 10 trust-building questions to make sure you are taking this journey with the right luxury real estate agent.

1. How will my home be marketed?

In order to sell your home, there needs to be high demand for the home. How do you create high demand? You create a top-notch marketing plan. This is crucial in a hot spot such as Los Angeles. Would you be surprised to know that 95% of agents market their homes the same way? What you are looking for is the 5% that go above and beyond and actually execute on what they say. Flawless execution can make all the difference in bringing you buyers and offers.  

See if your luxury real estate agent talks about the marketing plan or actually brings you a formal marketing plan with tangible examples of how they have marketed similar homes.

The way they market and present themselves as an agent should also be a telling factor in how they will market and present your home.

2. How will we decide the listing price?

You’ll notice the word “WE”.  Listing your home is not a one sided conversation. It always needs to be a collaborative process. Many times, sellers have an attachment to their home and have a higher expectation of the home’s value because that’s where all the memories have been made. You need to look at the numbers, comps and decide with your agent the plan for how to make your listing the “favorite” in the neighborhood.

If priced too high, you will likely miss out on potential buyers and are more likely to get a low ball offer. What you are looking for is that sweet spot that is just a touch above market but will put you in a position for multiple offers.

Test your luxury real estate agent on the listing price and see if he/she brings a collaborative spirit to the first conversation. 

3. What should I do to get my home ready?

Even if your home is fairly new, there's still going to be wear and tear. And the appearance of your home will impact how fast you sell it and for how much.

Ask your luxury real estate agent about any fix-ups that need to happen before selling your home. Even if something doesn't necessarily need to be fixed, you can even ask what features buyers are looking for and make some improvements.

But don’t make the common mistake of spending too much time and money on things that don’t matter. The goal is to spend the least amount and only on things that will deliver a return on your investment without cutting corners. An experienced luxury real estate agent will help you weigh these trade-offs and identify where to make the investments.

4. What's the best way to communicate?

In actuality, the agent should be asking YOU the best way to communicate as selling your home is an extremely emotional process. Finding an agent that's always there when you need them is crucial. If you notice they don't return calls or take days to respond to emails, decide if you are OK with this.

Be candid about your communication style and the cadence of when you want communications. At minimum, ask the agent about how they plan on sharing listing updates with you as well as examples of how they communicate listing updates with their clients. Is it sporadic or is there a more disciplined and structured approach? An agent will always say “we will keep you updated” but ask them for examples of how they do this. It’s one thing to tell you, it’s quite another thing to show you.

5. What are my home's best features?

By asking this question, you're working with your luxury real estate agent to decide on which features are the best. Highlighting the best features will catch the right eyes. Don't be afraid to mention all the upgrades you’ve made to your home: the new pool, updated kitchen appliances, and glass showers. If it makes you proud, someone else will be proud to have it one day as well.

You want to see how the agent picks up on these unique details and how they relay this information back to you. This will tell you how they will communicate with potential buyers.

6. Will I experience any setbacks during the selling process? 

An experienced agent will have a track record of successful sales as well as real world knowledge of all the millions of things that could go wrong. This can range from inspection hiccups, to demanding buyers to loan funding delays.

Properly setting expectations with you is important as a good agent will not sugar coat the truth.  Even more important is to understand how your agent deals with these inevitable setbacks to  come out stronger together on the other side.

7. How many homes have you sold for sellers and what is your sales track record? 

Some realtors have been in the business for twenty years with a lot of sales under their belt, but the number of homes they’ve sold over the last several years is minimal.  The reality is, most agents are buyer/selling agents. This means they are the ones bringing potential buyers to your home. A small percentage will focus their business on serving sellers as listing agents.

Even though they may sound similar, they usually act in different capacities and you want to make sure you are working with someone who has experience on the listing side.  There are many moving parts in a listing real estate transaction and you want to work with someone who has the experience you’re going to need to maximize your chances of a successful sale.

Working with someone who has minimal experience is going to drastically reduce your chances of making the most money because there are negotiation nuances throughout the process.  Don't be afraid to do your own digging by reading references and reviews. Investigate to see if people have enjoyed working with them in the past.

Ask to see their portfolio of homes sold and when. The more recent, the better.

8. What do you know about my neighborhood?

Los Angeles is a city of unique neighborhoods, each with their own selling points. While it's not absolutely crucial your realtor has sold in your neighborhood, you want to make sure they have a basic understanding of what makes your neighborhood the kind of place a potential buyer would want to be.

In addition, Los Angeles County may look a certain way based on housing data in terms of median selling price, list/sale price ratio and other important listing metrics. But the reality is the local neighborhood data will always tell a different story. You want to make sure your agent understands these nuances and can bring a fresh perspective and tell a new story.

With data and technology at our fingertips, being a neighborhood expert is great but being an amazing marketer will win the day. A good marketer will not only be able to sell your home, they will sell your neighborhood. If an agent is a top producer or has top sales they must be doing something right.

9. How long is the process?

No one can guarantee how long selling your home will take, but it's still important to ask.  It all depends on who the buyer is and what their situation is as well as what you want to do to get your home ready for sale. The average time to get your home ready depends on the condition and what needs to be done prior. This could take months depending on the type of refurbishments and upgrades you want to make. Once escrow is opened, the average sale closes within 30-40 days.

10. Do you have any questions for me?

By opening up the floor for questions, you'll be able to see how invested and interested they are. They'll also ask about some things you've never even thought about. A luxury real estate agent that asks about your needs, expectations, and desires goes above and beyond the rest.

Ask the right questions, find the right luxury real estate agent.

If you remember nothing else, 95% of agents do the same thing and you are looking for the 5% that will go above and beyond and actually execute on what they say.

Selling your home can be an emotional journey but also an exciting adventure.

Working with the right agent and collaborating together will get you the best price in the best amount of time. Make sure you are going on this adventure with a luxury real estate agent you can trust. 

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