How to Find a Realtor to Sell Your House

May 11, 2010

When you have a house for sale, you want local realtors who know your area and will get your home in the mls listings and on

Unless you live in a small town you’ll probably find lots of real estate agents who meet those property listing criteria so how do you find the best realtors to sell your house?

As we interviewed agents I asked around for tips on choosing a real estate agent and what questions we should ask them.  Here are some comments from other bloggers and good questions  to ask your realtor.  Of course there was some overlap in suggestions but that probably indicates those are important questions to ask so I didn’t edit them out. 

Everyone was generous with their time and I got some pretty detailed answers; in some cases I’ve excerpted some of their suggestions:

Jason from Frugal Dad:

  • How long they’ve been selling houses/how many houses have they sold?
  • Are they familiar with your neighborhood or part of town?
  • What’s the average days on market for properties they’ve sold in the past year or two?
  • Is their commission negotiable (it’s a long shot, but worth asking).  

Sun from Suns Financial Diary:

Ask the realtor to give you a list of houses sold in your area and the houses they sold. If they are not referred to you by others, you can ask for some references as well to make sure they are not pushy.

Phil from PT Money:

Ask what are their different channels for advertising your home? What sets them apart from other realtors?

Kevin from No Debt Plan:

  • Are you willing to take a discounted commission?
  • What is your ratio of homes listed vs. homes sold (or homes listed vs. homes sold vs. offers on homes, etc.)?

Craig from Free From Broke:

Find out what their exclusive agreement is. In other words, how long do you have to use them. If things aren’t working out can you fire them?

DR from Dough Roller:

  • How many homes of your sold? How many in our neighborhood/school district?
  • What would you suggest we list our home for and why?
  • How would you market the home? Website, mailing, newsletter, etc?
  • What, if anything, would you suggest we do to the home before listing it?
  • How many homes do you have listed now and how long have they been on the market?
  • Can we get references from the last three homes that you listed/sold?

Pinyo from Moolanomy:

Pre-negotiate a discount if they turn out to represent both you and the buyer.

Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents shared his recent home selling experience:

Our old house was in a mature and well known area in a community that is considered to be in the best school district in the county. We didn’t think we would have an issue selling our home.

We put on on For Sale by, took out a few ads in the newspaper, put up some signs along some highly trafficked areas. In the first weekend, we had an offer, but then fell through to financing. A month later, had a 2nd offer, with the same result. After that, it went cold for about 6 months.

We weren’t in a hurry to sell…at first, but our house was nearing completion. We dropped the price, had a few lookers, but no offers. Finally, we settled on an agent (Century 21) and had our house sold in 3 weeks.

Based on my experience, I would go through the same process if I wasn’t in a hurry to sell. There are a lot of potential buyers that won’t buy your house just based on the fact that it’s FSBO. I found that out after the fact.

Last but not least, Baker from Man vs Debt used to be in the real estate market so he had a lot of tips to offer:

Ask them how long their average home is on the market (and then add 2-3 months, because they are underestimating it). Ask them how many sales they’ve had the last 6 months each month.

I would worry far less about negotiating 1% (commission) and far more about finding a team that has been able to continue to kill it throughout the last 2 years. Luckily, the markets have removed a lot of the bottom feeders, but here in Indiana it’s still only about $500 or so to keep your license and union fees, so many just hang onto any hope.

Get one of the top 10% and pay them. A real estate agent that is in the top 10% of the market will easily net you more on average than you can get on your own. This may not be true of all markets, but I can’t imagine it’s that market specific.

Even if you decide to sell yourself, I would offer the buyer’s agent a commission (again if that is how you state treats agency agreements) and I would pay a ala carte/cheap service to list it in a realtor-specific network as well.

Great realtors know how to work with other realtors. They know how to weed out and pre-qualify, saving you time, stress, and money. Most importantly they know how to set expectations for you and for others. Don’t underestimate this in the process.

Selling yourself may work for some and if you have the time, experience, and skills you can make up for the (seller’s side of the commission, again if that’s how your state operates). But just like any industry, a great agent is well, well worth the commission. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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11 Responses to How to Find a Realtor to Sell Your House

  • Panda Mike

    I still think that you shoul not use a Realtor ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Jon

    Most importantly you have to feel comfortable with the person. Make the connection. Make sure they have a solid marketing plan. How will they advertise your home? They should be able to clearly and concisely answer your questions.

  • The Happy Rock

    Kate – Referrals are an interesting beast. We used a Realtor referral and he was terrible even though he came with multiple glowing recommendations. We switched to a Realtor of our own choice and were very pleased. We were really interested in how aggressive they were and how up to date they. Do they use the current tools and websites and have a modern persuasive approach.

    I would also be leery of agents that are willing to take lower commission. You want an agents that knows they are worth the money and they have enough clients that are willing to walk away if you try and low-ball them.

    I really enjoyed Baker’s comments and think they are spot on.

  • Kate

    I am assuming you have already asked your friends and neighbors for referrals. I know that I would want to hear a ‘testimonial’ from someone who had already used the agent’s services.

    Other than that, I think everyone has come up with some great questions.


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