Last month’s article touched on the differences between listing your property for sale with a Realtor and selling it at auction. The next two articles will talk about the process of getting started with each one. This month’s topic will be listing with a Realtor and next month we’ll talk auction.
So, you’ve decided sell and have decided that listing with a licensed Realtor is right for you. Now what? The first thing is to find your agent. If you wife’s second cousin’s friend has a niece that is a licensed real estate agent, then your decision may be cut and dry. However, if you don’t have a personal or family relation with someone in the real estate business, then you’ll want to take a more analytical approach. Look for yard signs and other types of advertising and see who seems to be the movers and shakers in your area. From there do some research online and get a feel for their marketing. Is it easy to find info about their listings? Are they full time or is real estate a hobby for them? Is the property description well done? Do the photos look professional or do they look they were taken with a flip phone during an earthquake? These and other questions specific to your needs should be explored. Try to talk to others who have worked with the Realtor you are considering or ask someone you know who they would recommend. Social media provides a good way to learn about a person. There’s no shame in doing a little Facebook research. After all, the person you choose is going to be responsible for guiding strangers through your home while you aren’t there. Trust is a major factor, so do some digging and listen to your gut.
Once you’ve decided who your agent will be and reached out to them, they will (hopefully) pull the public records such as PVA info, deeds, and other pertinent information and meet you at the property. Notes should be taken, and a marketing strategy devised. Next comes paperwork. Listing contracts will consist of an agency disclosure form, the listing contract, a seller’s disclosure, and a lead-based paint disclosure (if your home was built prior to 1978). There may be other documents specific to that brokerage, but the ones listed above are standard for the most part. The listing contract will contain items such as the list price, listing period, commission rate, and other important details. Once the documents are in order, your Realtor will place the property in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This will make the property available to other Realtors as well as online entities that are licensed to access the information and distribute it on their website. With your consent, a sign will be place in the yard and a lock box will be placed on the property to allow other agents to access it for showings. Showing instructions for agents will be specified in your listing contract and can accommodate your schedule or other specific wishes you may have. In this area we are currently using the SentriLock system which has an automated lockbox that is hung from the doorknob and accessed using an app on the Realtor’s smartphone. The only persons who have access to our system are members of the Heart of Kentucky Board of Realtors. If a nonmember needs access, a one-time code that will expire after 24 hours can be issued to the person by the listing agent and entered on the lockbox keypad. When the lockbox is opened it will email or text the listing agent to let them know it was accessed. The system also stores a log of all activity in the event it needs to be reviewed later. Another automated system recently adopted by our board is ShowingTime. When entering a listing into the MLS, an agent can route the showing requests through this system, which allows for specific instructions as well as concise scheduling criteria. If you wish, the agent can put your phone number or email as a contact, which will prompt the system to notify you the instant a showing has been requested. After the showing is complete, ShowingTime will send the agent a short questionnaire asking for general feedback and providing a space for additional comments. This information can also be forwarded directly to you and provides an insight into how the property is being perceived by potential buyers.
Advertising strategies vary from brokerage to brokerage, so it would be difficult to outline them all. I will say, however, that in today’s increasingly connected world the internet has become the first stop for many property shoppers. Real estate search sites allow a person to enter the criteria they are searching for then sit back and wait for a “ding” from their phone telling them that a property has become available. This means that the first few days of your property being on the market can be pretty telling. In a hot real estate market, no activity in the first week can be a bad sign and may warrant a second look at your listing price or property description.
Ultimately, keeping the lines of communication open with your Realtor about the process will be key. Ask questions about things you are unsure of. Lack of clear communication before and during the listing period can cost you both time and headaches later.