Top Home Seller Mistakes When Selecting A Realtor

Common Mistakes In Choosing A Real Estate Agent

Select The Right Realtor You have come to that time in your life when you will be packing your bags and looking for your next housing gig. Part of this process will be picking a great Real Estate agent to work with. Unfortunately choosing the right Realtor is an area where many home sellers make a big mistake that leads to disappointment.

Your Realtor is the most important part of your team when it comes to selling your home. He or she will be the link between your home and the housing market, particularly buyers and their agents. Because your Realtor can mean the difference between a quick and lucrative sale and a sale that is anything but, you should be exercising utmost discretion in your choice or Realtor. Like choosing a lawyer you should be looking for the best possible candidate.

There is no shortage of options when it comes to real estate agents. Separating the wheat from the chaff can be challenging, even if it is worthwhile. Avoid the following mistakes to ensure you get the agent you need to sell your home, as choosing the wrong agent is one of the top reasons homes fail to sell.

Keep reading for the top mistakes made by sellers when choosing a Realtor!

Recruiting Family

The saying that friends and business do not mix is common for a reason, and a real estate transaction is business. You are trying to sell a property for as much as you can in as short a time as you can, and this will require skill and efficiency – things your friend or family member may or may not possess.

It is not that someone close to you will not do a good job, it is just that you need to screen him or her as you would any other applicant. Make certain this person has what it takes to sell your home.

Also, keep in mind that if things do go badly, it could damage the relationship. The tightest bonds can be strained when large amounts of money are involved, and a real estate transaction typically involves a lot of money.

Choosing a “Yes” Man/Woman

Lying Real Estate AgentPricing a home is one of the biggest parts of making a good sale. Unfortunately, you may or may not be looking objectively at what your home will go for in the current market. If you are aiming too high, only a particular type of agent will agree with the price you are setting. Realtors refer to this practice as buying a listing, where an unscrupulous Realtor will agree to an unrealistic price just to land the listing.

Once your home sits on the market for months, the Realtor will then recommend you lower the price to something more reasonable. You will usually wind up getting less than what you could have, and the only person that benefits is the Realtor.

If you are thinking to yourself why would a Real Estate agent knowingly take on a listing that is priced too high and not going to sell, the answer is simple? The agent doesn’t care if your home sells because they will use it to get buyer calls for other properties which they will sell. Doing so is called bait and switch, and it is a common practice with some agents who just don’t care.

Going for the Lowest Commission

This is another issue with pricing, but this time, the problem is with the agent’s commission. It is natural to want to make as much money as you can from the sale of your home. You probably have your eyes on another house and want to get something back for all of the hard work you’ve done. However, you have to spend money to make money. Paying the price for a good agent is an investment in the sale of your home and worth every penny.

There is also the fact that you usually you get what you pay for. A well-paid agent will work tirelessly to move your home, while a low-paid one will probably do little more than throw your listing up online and put a sign up in your yard. Don’t be shortsighted thinking that by getting an agent to agree to a 1/2 percent lower commission is putting money in your pocket.

In fact, the exact opposite is bound to occur as many Real Estate agents will do everything they can to convince their buyer client to purchase elsewhere. They will never mention to their customers that it is commission related. No sir – these agents will point out every weakness in your home to the buyer just to convince them there are better properties out there. All the while doing so because they don’t want to make less money by selling your home. Make sure you understand the local market and if 95 percent of the home sellers are paying X commission the last thing you want to do is undercut that.

Should a buyers agent be steering buyers away from your home because you are offering a lower fee schedule? No – in the ideal world this should not happen as the buyer’s agent shouldn’t be worrying about their pocket book. This, however, is not what always goes on in the Real Estate industry. A great agent’s only concern will be their clients best interest. The next question you should be thinking about is how many of those “great agents” are out there.

Remember time is money as well. A fantastic Real Estate agent who knows how to market the heck out of your home is well worth the money you think you are saving. An agent who sells well can quickly make up the difference in any commission savings you think you will be realizing.

Only Interviewing One Agent

Only interviewing one Realtor is a very common Real Estate mistake. It is human nature to do this especially if you like the person you have decided to meet with, and everything they have told you sounds good. You may hear the price you were hoping for and the agent has also explained how they are going to go about selling the home. It all sounds good to you.

The problem is you have nothing to compare it against. One of the things so many sellers do is assume Realtors do the same things to sell a home. This is one of the biggest fallacies in Real Estate and why so many people end up with a second or third Real Estate agent after having no success selling their home. One of the smartest things you can do is to interview at least a few agents and ask them some specific Real Estate related interview questions. Often these questions will separate the men from the boys so to speak!

Not Seeking References

Check The Realtors ReferencesYou should talk to references before hiring your Realtor. While it may be initially uncomfortable to call people you do not know to ask questions about another person you do not know, it is a necessary part of the hiring process. Like any other employer, you need to know whether the person you are considering hiring is what he says he or she is. Without outside proof, you are going purely on the word of the Realtor.

Make sure the references are recent, too. The realtor may have been in his or her prime ten years ago but be letting things slip now. Get current references and contact them before making your decision. One thing to keep in mind is the Realtor is more than likely giving you the names of cherry picked clients they know are going to say nice things.

A better way to approach this is to ask the Realtor for the name and address of the last ten homes they sold. This will give you a better shot of contacting someone who is not necessarily going to speak to the agent as if they can walk on water.

Picking From an Open House

Real Estate Open HouseYou may have met the agent at an open house in your area, or you may just be taken in by his or her stories about holding open houses and all of the traffic that is produced. Either way, you should be aware that an open house is a slight part of selling a home, and arguably unnecessary. You may be surprised to know that nationally less than 2 percent of all homes are sold via an open house.

The open house mainly serves to connect the Realtor to other prospective clients. The majority of people that come to open houses do not buy. Instead, the agent connects with other people interested in other houses and gets a chance to look busy to his or her clients.

This is not to say that open houses never work but have realistic expectations. It is far better for your agent to spend time behind the scenes doing what moves homes than to be holding an open house every week. Selecting a Realtor because you met them at an open house and found you had a good rapport is one of the worst ways to choose a Real Estate agent.

They Live in The Neighborhood

Another home seller mistake when selecting a Realtor is choosing them because they live in your neighborhood. Is it possible that the best possible agent for the job lives right in your neighborhood? Of course but there is a much greater chance they do not. Don’t think that just because an agent lives in the area they are much better equipped to sell your home than someone who does not. While the agent living in your neighborhood hopefully knows it well, that doesn’t necessarily preclude someone else from knowing it just as well.

Lots of lousy Real Estate agents live somewhere – should those homeowners who live in proximity hire them? Not! Remember selling a home is not location dependent it is about having certain business skills.

The Agent Sold X Number of Homes

Low Number of Real Estate SalesYou want an agent that is selling homes. However, it is more important that the agent sells a large percentage of his or her listings than the overall home sale numbers. For instance, an agent that sells 18 out of 20 listings is probably doing something better than the agent who sold 20 out of 40.

In other words, a 90 percent success ratio is a lot better than 50 percent! You want a Realtor focused just as much on the quality of their works as they are on the number of homes they are selling. In this case, an agent who sells most of the homes they list and for near the price they list them at. In Real Estate jargon, this is called the list price to sale price ratio and should be a major consideration for who you hire.

An excellent agent will sell close to the initial asking price of the home. Going back to what I mentioned earlier, you don’t want an agent that will tell you what you want to hear just to get your business. This kind of agent will be clubbing you over the head for price reductions. Someone who is worth their salt will probably be able to snap off what their prior years list to sale ratio was especially if it was top notch.

Remember that picking an excellent agent should be centered around a few critical things including do they price appropriately, market well, and communicate effectively. If you find an agent that does all three of these things, you will most likely be sitting at a closing table with a smile on your face. The number of homes an agent sells is important but expect the service to match the volume.

The average Real Estate agent sells seven or eight homes a year. Don’t hire an agent thinking that if they don’t do as much business as the heavy hitter, you will get better service. Pick an agent that does an average amount of business and you are bound to get average results!

Avoid making any one of these mistakes when selecting a real estate agent.


About the author: The above Real Estate information on top home seller mistakes when selecting a Realtor was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 29+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southboro, Sutton, Wayland, Westboro, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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  1. says

    Wow, Bill. I am going to have to bookmark this one and come back to it. That’s a lot of great information. Whew! It must take you a while to compile some of these posts. I have been going through them and I notice that you don’t post often but when you do, it’s everywhere and very extensive. I need to make my posts more authoritative and extensive on whatever it is I am writing on. Great information!!

    • says

      Thanks Larry! You are correct I do not spit out the garden variety three hundred word posts that most Realtors do. I am actually in the process of doing at least one article a week now. I plan on making everyone of them something people will remember. I appreciate the compliments!

  2. says

    People can’t seem to understand or they feel bad about using their friend or not using their family member. But we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here; people need to think about that rather than hurting the feelings of their amateur real estate agent brother or sister’s friend. Choosing a real estate agent really could be the key to buying or selling the right home. I came across a listing two days that had been on the market for 2800 days. That’s just ridiculous

    • says

      Beth I am constantly amazed at how many sellers do not take the time to truly go through a detailed interview process when selecting an agent. It is easy to see why so many people are not happy with their real estate experience.

  3. says

    Bill, another great article. It’s amazing how some sellers make their decisions when choosing a Realtor to sell their home only to end up in the “Expired” pile.

  4. says

    Good article. Very good. I agree with you on all points except the part about choosing a Realtor at an open because you had a good rapport. Most of my client base is from referrals and open houses. Open houses are a great way to screen potential buyers and sellers. It gives me an opportunity to shine, show them a short presentation of my marketing skills and see if I may be able to meet their needs. While there are a lot of tire kickers and neighbors being curious coming through opens, there are also genuine buyers and sellers too. If your Seller insists on you holding opens, why not make the best of it.

    • says

      Andrea I will definitely agree to disagree with you. What does an agent holding an open house have anything to do with their credentials as an agent? The answer is NOTHING! There are loads of crappy agents that hold open houses.
      In fact most top producing agents do not waste their Sunday doing an open house. There are far better ways to market a property which is a completely different subject all together.In my twenty six years experience what I have observed is most of the time agents who do open houses need to in order to generate business not because they expect to sell the home they are sitting in. A home owner has just as good a chance of winning the lottery as they do finding a great Realtor from going to a random open house.

      • says

        I tell sellers just what you said, NAR statistics show that less than 2% of homes happen as a direct result from open houses. the ONLY o.h. that seems to work well is when the listing is brand new and it gets all the buyers in that range to the house at one time thereby saving the individual appointments that first week. After that they don’t work. Unfortunately too many sellers think that if they were selling the house that’s what they would do instead of realizing it’s all about price and condition.

        • says

          That makes perfect sense Nancy because when the home first goes on the market nobody has seen it yet. The open house makes it convenient for everyone to go at once. As I mentioned in the article the seller can maximize this opportunity by not allowing showings until the open house.

  5. says

    While many Top Agents don’t hold open houses, just as many Crappy ones don’t hold opens either. I pride myself on personal service and I work for my Clients. If they want an open house, they get an open house. By me, not an associate if at all avoidable. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this issue.

    • says

      That’s the point Andrea! Why would you use an open house as a mechanism to choose a real estate agent when there are far better methods? How about whether the agent takes great photos, has an incredible web presence, uses social media to promote business, has an incredible track record of success, has fantastic review from previous clients. These are things that a home owner should be looking at not going to an open house and striking up a conversation.

  6. says

    Great article Bill. I hope people really listen to you on not choosing an agent from an open house; unless of course they interview them and decide they are the right fit. It amazes me how many people view that as an important part of selling their home when so often it is unnecessary.

    • says

      Thanks Chris. That is the funny thing about our line of work. Selling a home is obviously a very important financial decision yet so many home owners don’t take the agent selection process seriously. Even for those that do sometimes they are not sure of what the right questions to ask should be. Like anything else a careful interview of multiple agents should be done.

  7. says

    Great list Bill. Next you should write about the mistakes they make AFTER they choose a top agent. You know, all those mistakes stemming from not listening to that agent’s advice.

    • says

      Well Marte hopefully if they have chosen a good agent they will be getting sound advice. I know sometimes sellers want to march to the beat of their own drum. Those are the folks that usually do not have success.

  8. says

    Bill, I can’t think of anything you left out. The best agents are interviewing the seller as well. We want sellers who communicate, are realistic and lest us do our jobs. Nightmare sellers that attempt to micromanage everything from photos to marketing are not going to be asked to the dance!

  9. haley says

    I am an inactive realtor and as soon as I finish some repairs, I am going to list my home for sale again, yet even knowing the agents out there, I am having a hard time finding the right agent. And no I am not a micro-manager, yet finding someone who does more than putting it in the mls (which is really bad here and I can’t imagine too many people surfing the web use it) and a sign out front is difficult. The main thing I see today is certain agents paying for their picture on sites or “buying” certain zip codes. These may be great if they are wanting buyer clients, but it does nothing for my listing as a seller client. Nothing makes me angrier to call about a listing online and getting an agent, whom I thought was the listing agent, who not only hasn’t seen the property, but has no clue about the property or even the area! Maybe I do expect more, like returning my phone call that same day, follow up/follow through, get to the property prior to the buyer and turn on the lights first, tell me asap if there are issues, not showing my property to someone who can’t afford a $150k house much less a $400k house. So, any advice in finding a good agent? How does the person moving into my area find my realtor? I use to have my own web site, and paid to keep it updated/connected, yet most agents have a “page” on their brokers website, and I would like to know what you think of that also, please. Thanks.

    • says

      Haley you have made some very good points about finding the right Realtor. You want an agent who invests money into their business. An agent who doesn’t have their own website is really missing the boat when it comes to marketing. One of the better ways to find a real estate agent is to use Google as a tool. Typically agents that come up in local real estate searches at least have some understanding of how important marketing is for ones business.

      In regards to your statement about the listing agent not taking a call one of the big advantages to the RE/MAX system is the fact the listing agent ALWAYS fields the calls. We do not have “phone time” or “office time” where an agent answer the phone and gets the prospects calling in. This is a really poor system for the exact reason you mention. Most of the time the agent answering the phone has never seen the property.

      Lastly if you call an agent and they don’t return a call within a couple of hours there is something wrong. This is a clue to how it will be when you hire them only potentially worse! Do your homework when selecting an agent. Realtors are a dime a dozen! It is far too easy to break into this field. I can tell you from being in the industry for almost thirty years there are some real losers.

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