As in most businesses, not all in real estate are successful. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 90 percent of real estate agents have only one to four sales a year. It's the top 10 percent who are gaining experience, learning the nuances of how to list and sell property successfully.
If you're looking for an agent to help you sell your Alaska home, look for the following four qualities.
1. Experience counts
Jerry Rice would walk onto the football field and make the game look easy. But he didn't become the greatest wide receiver of all time by working at it part-time. In the off-season, Rice lifted weights every day ― twice a day. He could also be found jogging in the hills around the Bay Area, or running "wind sprints until he had nothing left," according to Sports Cheat Sheet's Kofi Bofah.
Real estate agents are no different. They don't become expert negotiators by doing from one to four deals a year. They immerse themselves in the local housing industry; understand the current economy and how it affects their clients and the sale of their largest investment, their home.
A full-time agent isn't necessarily a better agent, but a must if you'll be doing a short sale, selling a luxury home or undertaking any other type of complicated transaction. Don't be afraid to ask the agent how many hours a week he devotes to real estate and how many transactions he's performed over the past 6 months.
2. Happy clients are a good sign
Hard-working, successful real estate agents have testimonials from their clients that they'll be happy to show you. They'll also be happy to supply you with the names and phone numbers of past clients. What you want, however, are not hand-picked references; you want the names and numbers of the agent's last three clients. Then, do your due diligence and call each one.
3. He or she is happy to answer questions
During the agent interviews, ask each the following questions:
- How many homes has the agent listed in the past year?
- How many of those homes sold?
- What percentage of the list price did the homeowners get?
- On average, how many days did these homes remain on the market?
If you have questions about the process of listing and selling your home, as those as well and pay attention to how well the complicated aspects of the process are explained. Most of all, take your time during this part of the process. Once you sign the listing agreement it's a bit tough to back out if you find you want another agent.
4. The agent has a plan, and it's proven to work
The agent that lists your home has many jobs, but the most important is marketing your home, especially in a slow market. Ask for a copy of his or her marketing plan and, although it may be uncomfortable, ask how much money the agent spends to market each listing. A robust marketing plan requires a hefty budget to put into motion. This is where you'll weed out the amateurs from the pros.
Ask for printouts of the real estate agent's last three listing. Check the photos ― there should be lots of them and they should be professional-looking. If there are photos of an open toilet, dark rooms or blurry photos, find another agent. Read the agent's remarks section to ensure that he or she used all of the space provided to entice buyers to visit the home.
While there are many agents who will try to sell you on the fact that they are the "neighborhood expert," the best agent is the one you feel comfortable with, the one that takes the time to communicate with you and the one that is a marketing genius. Since you're paying for his or her services, demand the best.