Here in Tampa Bay, there are tens of thousands of Realtors, some of them part-time, some of them full-time, some good, bad and in between. So how do you know which one to hire when its time to sell your home? And how do you know which one specializes in your area, depending on whether you live in Tampa, St. Petersburg, or somewhere in between? Here are a few tips to consider when choosing that right Realtor to list your home for sale:
- Don’t hire someone who is a close friend or family. This is #1 for a reason. I’m sorry, but you just can’t mix business and friends/family. Your home is most likely your largest investment, and while it can be tempting to go with a friend or family member because you trust them – you want to go with the very best. Unless your friend or family member is the #1 Realtor in town, he or she should not be offended if you go with the person who is. Picture this. You have a major health issue – let’s say a heart condition. Your next door neighbor is a general practitioner. Do you go to him? No, you go to a cardiologist! Well your home is the same way – find the best Realtor who specializes in whatever type of real estate category your home fits into – waterfront, golf course community, gated neighborhood, etc. After all, for most people their home is their largest financial investment, so you go to the best, not a buddy.
- Get the Realtors Stats. To find out who is the best St. Petersburg luxury home Realtor, you’d better call and interview a few real estate agents. And when each of them arrive, ask them to show you their sales stats. What, they didn’t bring them? That’s not a good sign. Ask what their list-to-sale ratio is (my list to sell ratio is 98%). This means if a house is listed for $100,000, I on average sell it for 98%. This is a direct reflection of an agent’s ability to negotiate well. The industry average in Tampa Bay is 94% – so already using me, you gain on average an extra 4% because of my negotiation abilities. If they don’t know – again, not a good sign. Ask where they rank among other Pinellas County Realtors. Don’t know? Again, not good. I’m in the Top 1% of Pinellas County Realtors. Where do they fall?
- Don’t Choose the Yes Man (or Woman). You likely have a strong opinion about what your home’s listing price should be. All Sellers generally do. So now that you’ve interviewed a few people, don’t just choose the Realtor who had the highest suggested listing price for your home. Some agents will tell you whatever you want to hear, and then come back with their tail between their legs later, asking for a price reduction. Statistics show that pricing your home correctly from the start is imperative to get the highest sales price. When you price a home within the market, you are likely to get lots of buyers looking at your home right away and possibly competing (read: over the asking price!) offers. Don’t you want that? Find the Realtor who brings realistic looking comparable sales and listen to what he or she has to say. You are hiring this person to be impartial, and give you good advice, so its important to hear their opinion.
- Decide How Important Commission Is. Commissions can vary greatly from agent to agent, company to company. Why? Ever heard the expression “If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.” or “You get what you pay for.” These apply here. Your Realtor may charge a given commission based on his or her experience and the amount of marketing he or she does. If an agent is willing to drop their commission drastically over what another agent’s commission is – ask yourself – is this agent desperate for a listing? How many homes has he sold? How much marketing is he going to be able to do since he’s dropping the commission, and thus what he can use to pay for marketing? Will the commission split offered to buyer’s agents be as attractive? There are agents out there who just want listings (and will often overprice them) just to put a For Sale sign up in your yard. Why? Because buyers see the sign, call the agent to ask the price, and then when they give a shocked reaction, the agent says “But wait, I have others I can show you” and then sells them a different house.
- Don’t discount the Real Estate Company’s brand: Every agent has a broker. Some agents work for smaller, unknown brokers, and some work for larger companies. Smith & Associates Real Estate is a local Tampa Bay real estate company, however we are part of a much larger network of national and international real estate companies. As part of The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, our global network of nearly 550 premier real estate firms with 4,600 offices and 170,000 sales associates in 30 countries. Together this group has sold over 800 million homes worth $800 billion in 2011, more than any national real estate brand. We are also members of Luxury Portfolio Fine Property Collection, which has featured more $1 million-plus properties than any other luxury real estate organization and has grown to over 15,000 of the world’s most remarkable properties and attracts over 1.2 million high-net-worth visitors a year.
- Check Out The Agent’s Marketing. Ask to see some current and past listings. Do they have a real estate website for buyers to search? How’s the photography on their listings look? Will they hire a professional? Make sure you don’t end up a Bad MLS Photo listing! Will the listing be on YouTube? Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com? What about print marketing? Open Houses or Broker’s Opens? Other out of the box methods? If they don’t have anything to show you – next.
- Listen to Your Gut. What was your first impression of this agent? Do you like this person? Are they pushy? Or do you have a great connection? Is the agent on a large real estate team, and will you get passed off to some lowly staff person when you have a question? Or does the agent give you their direct phone number? You could be working with your real estate agent for several months, so it’s important to find someone you like and trust. You want someone who will be easy to work with, and easy to get in touch with when dealing with one of the largest financial transactions of your life.
Of course when it comes to searching for the best real estate agent to sell your St. Petersburg or Tampa home, we’d love to be one of the listing Realtors that you interview.