At the last Club meeting there was a conversation about the relative value of selling a property on your own vs. using a realtor. Obviously I’m biased so take what I say with a grain of salt.
In the background for an investor grappling with this choice could be the concern that agents used in the past did not, how shall we say, do any real work to get the home sold? Naturally, if this is your perspective it will look like a waste of money to pay someone to do what any savvy investor could do for themselves.
Fair enough. It probably is better to do it yourself if the option is to hire someone who does a bad job.
Underneath this concern however is an interesting question – and that is: how does anyone get stuck with an agent who doesn’t work? What interview process did you use? What criteria did that agent meet that had you decide to hire them?
The reality is almost nobody actually interviews an agent the same way an HR director, or the hiring manager, at any business would interview a prospective employee. Even the most basic questions are ignored. If you were in HR wouldn’t you be interested in their previous work experience? You’d call references, wouldn’t you?
Well, how is this different?
And the question that will make the biggest difference for you is the simplest one for them to answer. It’s the one question that will separate a professional from a hobbyist, someone who is ready to make you money from someone who is there to make themselves money. Ask them this question: “Relative to the market in _____________ (use your city, or county, or neighborhood) what was your performance over the last 6-12 months?” Their answer should sound something like mine would. I’d say “In King County (my area) last year homes sold for 98% of list price During that time frame, my buyers paid 97% and my sellers received 101%. More recently, for the first quarter, in KC average was 100%, our buyers paid 99% of list and our sellers got 107% and in less than ½ the days.”
Now, if they don’t know their numbers you should politely end the interview as you are most likely dealing with a hobbyist not a professional. And if their numbers don’t beat the average you would need to find out why. There may be extenuating circumstances or other market considerations to take into account. In any event asking them to quantify their performance will give you an objective way to compare one agent with another and ultimately, leave you confident that the person you choose is going to bring you the greatest return on your investment.
Like I said, as a professional realtor I am obviously biased toward people using a realtor to buy or sell real estate. I think it makes it sense the same way that, while perfectly legal for people to be their own attorney, I am not sure it makes the most sense practically. But of course, unless you get a good attorney you might be better off on your own. Hopefully now you have a little insight in how to get yourself a good realtor.
If this doesn’t make sense, of you have questions about this (or any other real estate questions) please let me know.
Aaron Hendon | Broker
Christine & Company
1307 N 45th Street, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98103