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How to Build Your Real Estate Team

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, it takes an entire team of people to sell your home. As a home seller, who is included on that team looks a lot different than when you bought your home.

The members of your home selling team may include;

  • Your selling agent (also sometimes called a listing agent)
  • Home stager
  • Home photographer
  • Contractor for repairs
  • Real estate attorney
  • Home inspector

Deciding to Use a Listing Agent to Sell Your Home

What is a listing agent?

The listing agent is also sometimes referred to as the seller’s agent, someone who will work with the home seller, often exclusively (although there are certain locations that allow a selling agent to work both sides of a real estate transaction).

Home sellers will research options in a listing agent through personal contacts, local advertising, friend recommendations, social media, home listing portals (like Homes.com), mortgage broker recommendations or other means whereby introductions are made. There may be a period of interviews, meetings, calls or a selection process to decide which listing agent the home seller would like to work with.

The listing agent will then arrange a meeting at the home seller’s property, evaluate the property and then run a comparative market analysis on the home, via commercially available industry software or proprietary location data, and will then provide the seller with a ballpark range of their home’s value. Note: this is a non-binding estimate that the seller should consider. Local market factors can dramatically change the value a house sells at. A great listing agent will factor in these considerations when presenting their estimated home value. The listing agent and the seller will come to an agreement as to how much to list the property for, with an expectation of a time to sell that considers the seller’s need to move, financing and other possible factors influencing the speed with which the seller desires to sell. To become the ‘official’ listing agent who represents the seller in the real estate transaction, the agent will then provide the seller with a contract which the seller must sign.

At this point, the listing agent can begin marketing the property using a variety of techniques and tools such as the Multiple Listing Service toolset, Homes.com (and / or other national portals), local advertising and other promotional platforms to publicize and highlight the home’s features. The listing agent will also organize the listing photos, video or other media and work with the home seller on an attractive and accurate description of the property to accompany the general home’s information. Listing agents will also facilitate open houses and home tours to allow potential buyers to see the house from the inside via appointment or at set times during the week.

What the Listing Agent Will Do For You

Selling a home can be like owning your own small business, and your listing agent is your business partner. In the course of selling your home, your listing agent will be there with you through almost the entire process, from coming up with the sale price to handing over the home’s keys. In a few instances, these jobs are done by multiple people from the agency, each specializing in one particular step of the process. For the most part, though, you will be dealing with one agent that will get to know and trust through the bumps and hiccups of your home selling journey.

Here are just some of the things Listing Agents will do.

Determine Your Home’s Value
Finding the right price to value your home at is an art unto itself. Homeowners often over-price their home, only to find that their home languishes on the market and de-values steeper than what they could have gotten if they had gone with a lower price, to begin with. Your Listing Agent will know your market and know what homes are selling for. They will use Comparables, homes of a similar size and description, to find the right balance on price.

List the Home
One of the tools that a Listing Agent has access to is a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The agent will use this not only to help price your home, but also to attract other agents and brokers. It’s possible to get on an MLS without an agent, but it will require paying fees.

Marketing
Marketing is an essential aspect of any home sale. An experienced agent will have a list of go-to contractors, home stagers, and photographers in order to make your home shine. When you first meet with your agent, you should ask what kind of marketing plan they employ, and how much they plan to spend. An agent with a marketing plan versus one without is often the difference between a good and bad agent.

Show the Home
An agent’s involvement with the showing of the home can vary depending on the seller, but when it comes to dealing with potential buyers and gauging their worthiness to buy your home, the agent’s experienced selling-eye will be invaluable.

Negotiate With the Buyer
In many home sales, the buyer and the seller never actually meet. While the contract is being worked out, the Listing Agent will meet with the Buyer’s Agent (sometimes called the Selling Agent) to work out the details of the purchase contract. Your Agent will not only have more experience reading these contracts and knowing what is usual or unusual about them, but also will be able to be detached enough to negotiate effectively.

Be There at the Close
An agent, in particular, one with some legal expertise, can be there with you at the close. Along with a Closing Attorney and/or an Escrow Officer, they will help you review the final documents to sign to complete the sale of your home.

Consider More Than the Cost of a Real Estate Agent

If you are thinking of selling your home without an agent just for the savings alone, then you may want to reconsider. In many For-Sale-By-Owner situations, the sellers are greatly disappointed in the amount of money they saved by the end if there were savings at all.

On the other hand, if you are thinking of going the FSBO route because you have a strong personal conviction for doing so, you don’t mind research and legal documents and can keep a cool head during negotiations, then selling your home without an agent might be the right choice for you.

Read: What are the advantages and disadvantages of FSBO vs selling with a real estate agent?
Read: How to find the perfect real estate agent for your home sale
Read: How to understand and negotiate your home listing agreement

How to Find a Home Inspector

In home sales where the buyer is obtaining a mortgage from a loan company, the company will require an appraisal and an inspection, both of which the buyer will pay for. In some instances, the seller might offer to cover these costs. Sometimes a homeowner who truly does not know the condition of their home will hire an inspector before putting it on the market. In many cases, homeowners will wait for the buyer’s inspection, because this inspection will happen whether you hire someone to inspect your home before putting it on the market or not.

Often, the home inspector finds an issue that needs to be addressed about the home’s structure or upkeep, usually minor. It does happen, however, that an inspector will find a big issue with the home – one that can derail an entire sale. To prevent this from happening, some homeowners will pay the cost up front to have the home inspected before it ever goes on the market. If you are thinking of selling your home and are truly in the dark about your home’s condition, then you might consider getting a pre-inspection. This will help you price your home accurately and will give any potential buyers an idea of how much money they might need to invest in the home’s upkeep.

What to Look for in an Inspector
Home inspectors are state/county-licensed contractors whose business success depends upon their reputation for being objective and accurate in their assessments. Failure to do their job in a professional way can mean that they can lose their business, so most home inspectors are trustworthy. When hiring a home inspector, make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured. If they are not, then they are not actually a home inspector. In addition, ask about the home inspector’s experience. Most home inspectors come from a lengthy background in construction or have worked before as an electrician, and will have specialties that they can bring to your home.

What Home Inspectors Do / Don’t Do
Home inspectors will do a top-to-bottom evaluation of the physical condition of your home, inside and out. They will look at insulation, electrical wiring, plumbing, and any other areas of potential damage. They will also look for spots where gathering moisture is an issue, mold is present, or any trouble spots in the yard.  Things they might not cover are problems with sewage or pests; in particular, termites. Depending on your state or county, a separate termite inspection might be required, and otherwise could be a good idea.

Home Inspector Industry Associations / Affiliations
Many agents will have a recommendation for a home inspection company or individual, though there are also industry associations that offer training and membership generally denote higher levels of training and expertise. Look for members of ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) and INTERNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors).

Using a Home Stager / Home Photographer

Good marketing is key to keeping your home from spending too much time on the market, and hiring professionals to stage and photograph your home can be key to good marketing. Many homeowners try to save money by cutting these professionals from the process, but considering the amount of money in play in the sale of your home, the up-front costs of having the marketing done right are negligible.

How to Find a Contractor

If you already know what needs to be fixed around your home, you can get started with your contractor before your home ever goes up for sale. In some cases, your agent might make some suggestions of what could be worked on to give your home a boost in market value. This could be as simple new window screens or a coat of paint for the exterior. During the negotiation process, the buyer will ask for some repairs, however small. If you do not already have a contractor you work with and trust, your agent can be a valuable resource for choosing one.

There are many national websites for finding reliable contractors and tradesmen, although we don’t recommend anyone over another, some of the more popular sites are; Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor and Contractor Connection.

How to Find a Real Estate Attorney

An attorney’s role in the home sale can vary. There will be multiple legal contracts for the home seller to go over, not just the final purchase contract. In some cases, your agent will act as an attorney in reviewing the closing paperwork, but other times it is worth it to have an attorney review in addition to the agent. There is also your agent’s contract, which you might consider showing to an attorney. Generally, your agent will recommend an office or personal connection. Do your research; it’s your choice whether to use their preferred attorney or your own.

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