There are literally tens of thousands of real estate agents in the Tampa Bay area. Many of them have watched a few episodes of House Hunters or Million Dollar Listing and think this job looks easy. (Reality check – nothing is like it seems on TV!)
So how do you know who’s the best real estate agent to hire to sell your home? Will they do what they say? Should you choose the one on the radio who promises to sell your home in 29 days or they’ll buy it? Do you hire the neighborhood expert who has 10 listings in your neighborhood? What’s a seller to do?
Below we’ve put together some great questions you can use when interviewing a real estate agent to sell your Tampa Bay home.
Are you an individual agent or are you part of a team?
There can be advantages and disadvantages to being part of a team or an individual agent. If you are working with an individual, you are only dealing with 1 person and hopefully get their full attention. However if they have too many listings or too many buyers, attention to detail may suffer if they don’t have anyone helping them out or at least some administrative staff. With a team approach, often you are working with a listing agent who then has support staff for some of the marketing and paperwork. Personally I am part of a small team and feel the team approach works best for me and best for my clients. That way if I am ever on a (rare!) vacation day or with another client in a meeting and something is needed immediately from one of my clients, my team members can jump right in and take care of it. Nothing falls through the cracks.
How long have you been selling real estate?
My personal answer to this is 12 years. Not to say that the length of time someone has been in the business is always a great indication, but if someone is brand new, you might want to know that they have a good mentor or someone helping them. I personally learn new things every day in this business and having some years of experience is never a bad thing. If someone says 30 years in the business, that’s great but you also want to make sure they are up on the latest real estate trends and technology being used for listings.
Is this your full-time job?
Obviously, the answer to this should be YES. I eat, sleep and breathe real estate and if one cannot make a full-time living at real estate, that may say something about their abilities to sell and negotiate on your behalf.
If team – How many people are on your team?
For me – currently we have a buyer’s agent, a contract to close coordinator, an in house mortgage broker and an in house title company. If the team is too large, some clients feel they are constantly passed from one person to another. For us, the small team approach works well.
How many homes did you or your team sell last year?
62 with a team of 2 agents. Your agent should be selling at least 2 to 3 homes a month if he or she’s an individual agent, more if a team if they are great real estate agents.
What was your sales volume?
$23,000,000 for 2 agents. Again – the higher the better here but much of this depends on what average price point is for your agent. My team sells everything from $200,000 homes to over $3,000,000 homes – so price range is key info as well. A team that sells $23,000,000 but only sells $3,000,000+ homes may only really be selling a few per year.
What is your list to sell ratio?
This is an indicator of how strong a negotiator they are – county average is 94%. Mine is 98%. If your agent gives you a funny look and doesn’t seem to know what a list to sell ratio is, run.
Can I see your marketing plan?
Sure – mine’s here. It’s pretty darn comprehensive. If your agent doesn’t bring a marketing plan when they meet with you – run. And it should be more than “put it in MLS and send out postcards and hold an open house”. There should be some pretty high tech processes in place to maximize exposure of your home to the market.
How many listings do you have currently?
This varies at any given moment for us but we are always happy to share this info.
How many active buyers?
This number is also going to vary – we have a database of over 6,000 active and past clients who we send our listings to and at any one time, our buyer’s specialist is likely working with 5 to 8 active clients.
What’s your average days on market?
Under 30 days.
Will I be working directly with you or one of your team members?
If you are selling a home – me! Once we are under contract, you’ll occasionally hear from our contract to close coordinator with important info. If you are buying – you’ll be working with our Buyer’s Specialist.
How will you keep me informed of progress on my home sale?
This is addressed in our marketing plan but I always ask clients who they like to be communicated with. Some people prefer phone calls weekly, some like a text or an email. But we never give less than weekly feedback on the progress of your home’s sale.
How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?
You might think the right answer here is for the agent to say “I’ve sold 10 homes in your neighborhood!” but that is not always true. Sure, experience in a particular neighborhood is great, but if the agent doesn’t have much experience in that neighborhood, that may not matter if their marketing plan is stellar. For me – I’d rather have an agent with a strong sales and marketing background than experience in a certain community. I can learn what I need to know about the community from the seller. What sells a home is 1) Pricing 2) Marketing 3) Condition of Home. Also going with the “neighborhood expert” can sometimes backfire. I had one potential client who was interviewing me, but I could tell initially really wanted to go with the guy who’d sold 15 homes in her neighborhood. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: “So it looks like he has 7 active listings in your neighborhood right now… what is going to make him want to sell yours first before the other 7 homes he already has had listed for a lot longer? Why should he push yours to a buyer over those 7?”
Her: “Oh wow I never even thought of it like that. I guess it is sort of a conflict of interest.”
What separates you from every other real estate agent out there?
We care! We donate a portion of every commission we earn to John’s Hopkins All Children’s Hospital for a cancer research fund. Also our marketing is stellar. I would put our photography, video and other marketing tools up against any Realtor in the market. We strive to make our client’s homes pop online and create a viral buzz, even before they officially hit the market.
Thinking of selling your home? Call today and I’d love to interview with you!