Choosing a Listing Agent in Montana

Listing Agents

Choosing the Right One


     So you’ve decided to sell your home and you’ve been interviewing potential “Listing Agents.”  You’ve interviewed three and it’s time to select the one you’ll use.

     Of those you interviewed, which one should you choose?

     Do you pick the one that seemed sharp; who came to your door already knowing what your home was worth and it was more than you had hoped for?  He even agreed that you should “start high — you can always reduce the price later if you need to.”  And, he claimed to have Buyers lined up just waiting to buy a home like yours!

     The first Realtor® sounds almost too good to be true — and, he is.  The truth is that he was engaging in a despicable practice called “buying a listing.”  He “buys” your listing by suggesting that you can get a higher sales price than a reputable agent would suggest.   He may know your home will not actually sell at that price, maybe not even close to it.   His intention from the start is to “get the listing now,” tying up your home with his “listing contract” for the next 3, 6 or more months.   Then, after few, if any, prospective buyers have seen the home, he’ll talk you into lowering the price.

     Why do agents “buy” listings?  There are a couple of reasons. An inexperienced agent can respond inappropriately to pressure from a homeowner who has an inflated perception of the home’s value.  And, being new, he really wants to “get some listings on the board.”  On the other hand, there are some agents who engage in “buying listings” as a routine practice.  Getting listings with unrealistic promises violates the Realtor’s® Code of Ethics

     Or, do you pick the second one who seemed honest and sincere enough, but his suggested price, which he did have with him on the first visit, was lower than the first “hot-shot.”  But, he didn’t give you much detail on “how he was going to market your home.”  He had some colorful presentation materials, though.  “Oh well,” you figure, “all Realtors® do about the same stuff anyway, right?   Put it in MLS, put an ad in the newspaper once or twice, hold a couple open houses if you demand it and otherwise just hope the home sells itself.”

     Or, do you pick the third one that required two visits; the first to tour your home making notes on its features, strengths and weaknesses and who asked a lot of questions.  Then, she came back for a second meeting to give you a recommended selling price — perhaps a bit lower than the price offered by the hot-shot or the second agent neither of whom had even seen the home before announcing what it was worth.

     The third Realtor® also spent time explaining her “marketing plan” for your home, not necessarily with a snappy presentation, but with facts and commitments.  She pointed out, that contrary to common opinion, her job is not so much to sell the home herself, although she’d love to do that.   But as your “Listing Agent,” her primary job is to make sure all the local area Realtors® who deal with Buyers know about your home and its features.  She will do that by holding a “Brokers Open House” and providing each of them with a brochure on your home so every Realtor® would remember this home.  In addition to the Brokers’ Open House, she offered several other ways she’d put your home in front of the widest possible number of prospective Buyers.  Finally, she explained how important it is that the home be accurately described in Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so Realtors® looking for homes to show their clients will identify your property as a good value with all the right features.

     In a nutshell, your Listing Agent’s job is to multiply the number of people working to sell your house by enlisting every other Realtor® in town, especially those who deal mostly with Buyers.

In summary, you should choose as your Listing Agent, a Realtor® who:

  • is experienced at selling homes in your neighborhood.

  • is honest enough to admit that one cannot give a reasonable estimate of the value of a home until he or she has toured the home.

  • takes the time to document an honest comparison of your home to others that have sold recently and those currently on the market.

  • has a clear and comprehensive “marketing plan” for your home.

  • is someone with whom you feel comfortable discussing one of the most important decisions you can make.