As a Real Estate professional, I hate to suggest that sometimes one’s Realtor needs to be fired, but under some circumstances, it becomes necessary. If you decide you may want to go this route, I’d suggest you read your listing agreement carefully for the terms and circumstances under which your agent can be fired. Even if you have several months left in your agreement, often if you speak with the broker of the real estate company, you may be released from further obligation under the listing agreement if your agent is not living up to his or her end of the agreement.
Frequently I speak with For Sale By Owners or other sellers who’s listing has Expired in the MLS, only to find out they’ve had a bad experience with their prior agent. Here are some of the things I hear:
1. “The Realtor listed the property and then we never heard from them.” If your agent can’t answer her phone to take your call – she’s likely not converting buyer inquiry calls either. Sellers should receive updates on listing activity at least weekly. If nothing is happening and there are no showings, an agent should report that activity as well, and perhaps talk about a price reduction or why the home isn’t getting shown.
2. “The Realtor never brought us a Buyer”. Sellers want to know what their agent is doing to find a Buyer. Putting a sign in the yard and hoping for drive-by traffic is ineffective in most communities. Usually, it takes networking among agents to sell a home and marketing a home online and in print to draw in buyers.
3. “The agent took horrible MLS Photos“. This one drives me CRAZY and there is absolutely zero excuse for bad photography. Your Realtor should know how to stage your home so it photographs well, use good lighting, and a high quality digital SLR camera OR hire a professional photographer. No listing should contain photographs of dark rooms or of a bathroom with the toilet seat up, or with junk all over the countertops. Inexcusable.
4 “The agent didn’t do any marketing”. Some sellers get upset because their agent didn’t do an open house. Let me start by saying open houses do not sell homes. Statistically, less than 1% of homes are sold via an open house – so ask your agent to do a Broker’s Open as opposed to a public open house. But beyond that, your Realtor should have a comprehensive marketing plan including but not limited to: professional photography, virtual tour, YouTube video, syndication to national real estate websites like Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow, print advertising, search engine optimization, personal property website, and more.
5. “My Realtor was too slow responding to requests.” When a Seller asks for an update on their home listing, or a Buyer calls wanting information on the listing, the listing agent needs to respond quickly. If the Realtor is unavailable, an alternate individual should be on call. I have a full-time administrative assistant as well as a Buyer’s Specialist on my team – so between the three of us, its easy to reach someone quickly.
6. “My Realtor didn’t listen to what I wanted.” If you think your agent is not listening to what you want, ask them to repeat what you just said. Your agent should clearly understand your goals, whether it be sell fast to move out of state, or obtain a certain price to payoff the existing mortgage. Be honest with your agent and make sure your agent is on the same page as you.
7. “My agent didn’t seem to understand the paperwork.” RUN! But seriously! More than ever, there are so many Florida real estate disclosures and your agent needs to be able to clearly explain to you how to complete them and which ones are required. They should also clearly explain to you when you receive an offer the terms of that offer, what contingencies there are in the contract, and what the contract deadlines are.
8. “My Realtor didn’t know how to negotiate.” I am one of those people that loves buying cars, because I LOVE to haggle with a car salesman! Hey, I’m in sales too, buddy, so don’t anticipate that when you see a woman walk in, she doesn’t know her numbers! Homes are the same way. You’ve got to know your numbers backward and forward. Sellers may have very strong opinions about the price they want to accept, but every single fee in the purchase contract can affect a seller’s bottom-line profit. Your Realtor should be using recent sale comparables to discuss any offers that come in with the Buyer’s agent and negotiate on your behalf. My sellers on average receive 96% to 100% of their asking price. Negotiation skills may be the single most important quality to look for in an agent.
9. “My Realtor was unprofessional.” This goes for actions and appearance. I shudder when I see agents show up for to take someone’s listing in jeans and a t-shirt. Also, the manner in which your agent speaks to you should be professional, courteous and business-like. Selling or buying a home can be highly emotional for the buyers and sellers but your agent should be the cool-headed one.
10. “My Realtor did not have my best interests in mind.” I’ve seen this before in many areas. Laziness in marketing, poor communication, etc. If the Realtor’s real interest is selling your home, the prior 9 reasons won’t occur in the first place. There’s a saying in real estate, and in general… follow your passion and the money will follow. Follow the money, and you may never find your passion. I like to follow my passion, which is marketing and helping others. When I do that, it benefits my clients and in the end, me too. When your agent does everything in her power to market your home for top dollar, you’ll be confident you got the highest price the market will bear, and your agent will be happy she got the home sold quickly for you and you could reach your goals.