Someone planning on selling a home has a couple of options.
The can hire a real estate agent to be their point man(or listing agent) in the process. Normally the agent is called by the seller to come to their home to do a comparative market analysis(CMA) of the home. This details the real estate agents opinion of the home’s value, compared with others in the market of similar value. It also explains the reasons the agent feels the value is right by comparing the other properties used to make the baseline. Lastly, it gives a rough projection of the proceeds for the home itself. Here’s where to be careful. It just includes the home sale itself, not any outstanding debt. This where people who are upside down(owe more than the home is worth) on their mortgages can get caught up. There are options available, like a short sale or adding improvements to increase the value. Talk to your prospective agents about the risks, as well as the benefits, of a particular approach. That’s a great way to get a feel for the agent and if he cares about you and your particular situation or does he just want the listing. When the CMA is delivered, this is the time the agent makes his pitch to become the seller’s agent, so be ready for the shmooz,(Hey, I do it too.) but ask questions too. This could be your partner in one of the biggest transactions of your life.
Normally, the seller interviews a few agents just like this. They compare the CMA’s(Which one values my home highest?). They compare the agency(Does it have a good record? Been around awhile? Any complaints? What’s the commission? Remember the strength of the agent’s affiliates comes with him into the agreement.) and lastly they compare the agents. (Do I like him? What’s he going to do to market my house? Does he have a plan?) Part of my CMA delivery is my marketing plan for the home in question. You, the seller, are shopping. If you don’t like the agent, don’t like the plan, disagree on the value…You have a lot to think about.
“The agent represents the seller and his property and owes the seller undivided loyalty, reasonable care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality, and accountability, provided that the agent must disclose known material defects in the real estate. The agent must put the seller’s interests first and negotiate for the best price and terms for the client, the seller.” Straight from the Massachusetts Academy of Real Estate and quite a mouthful.
Aside from the legal and moral requirement to disclose all known material defects in a property, The agent you choose will OWE you his undivided loyalty and reasonable care. As your agent, he’s got to put his interest aside and focus on your situation and desires, within reasonable expectations. He’s not going to shingle your roof, but he’ll put some evenings aside to show the house, some weekend open houses etc. He’ll be a source of advice on how to stage your home for showing(That’s a lot of work; see past posting: Hardest Part of Staging a House 04/10/10) He’ll set up with you your requirements for showing the home. (Pre-qualified Buyer’s only, Specific Showing Times, etc). He’ll also guide you in what you can do and what you can’t, legally, in selling and advertising your home. There are tons and tons of laws regarding how you advertise, how you handle hazardous waste issues like lead paint, radon and asbestos, the condition of septic systems and so on. The penalties for violating any of the various Federal…State…County…and City/Town laws are pretty severe. His job is to guide you through those minefields. Did you know that through vicarious liability, You, the seller, can be held responsible for the actions of the agent. That’s enough to scare anybody, so pick carefully.
Also, he’s your screener and your “Special Agent”. I know what you’re thinking…Guys in black suits, sunglasses, driving Crown Vic’s, applying the third degree to innocent passerby on your behalf. Actually, That’s not far from the truth. Their your point person in finding the right buyer for you. You want him to screen out the tire-kicker’s that just want to see what the inside of your home looks like? Nobody gets in unless they have a pre-approval letter, unless they come to an open house. Done! All viewing’s require 24 hour notice! He’s your gatekeeper. You’re pet bear roams basement during the day. He’ll guide the buyers around. He’ll also be handling the earnest money a prospective buyer or his agent will have to fork over. That’s a headache and a half.
That brings up another good point. The buyer’s have agents too you know. Your agent will help prepare you for the questions they’ll be asking for their clients…and they’ll be asking plenty. They might try to browbeat you on the condition of the house, ask questions about why you’re selling and more. All in a softening up attempt to get you to eventually lower your price. Your agent can prepare you to defend yourself and can run interference during showings, if he’s there. You see, Your agent has to keep your secrets too, like How low will you really go(on your home price)? What will the seller kick in as an incentive to buy? You’re agent should know that and keep it just you’re little secret. There’s quite a few opportunities for a seller’s agent to get in a few pointed question of YOUR own.
Once the buyer is found, the offer accepted, the initial paperwork handled, he’ll help prepare you for closing with the advice and guidance of your closing attorney. Title V, Lead Paint, etc.
…Or you have the option of doing all that yourself. Good Luck if you take that road. You know how long I studied to get my license, how much I have to study to keep it year after year? (Well, I’m not telling you, so nyeh!)
Ok, hopefully, you like the idea of hiring an agent to sell your home. If not, I guess I could flip burgers at McDonalds or something. Anyway, once you pick an agent, you’re facing a small pile of paperwork that looks a whole lot scarier than it is.
First is a Agency Disclosure. It’s the law, we have to tell you who we are to you, since real estate agents can represent buyer’s, seller’s and sometimes both(That’s a later post.) and sometimes neither(That’s another later post.) The disclosure just says how the agent represents you. You can either sign it or check the box for refused to sign. See? No big deal. The next one is some type of Right to Sell Contract. This one binds you together in a partnership for a specified period of time. This can be a little complicated, so ask what the terms are, what the commission structure is(Yep, That’s in there too.) and the expiration date. Another might be a seller’s disclosure statement. You really want an agent’s help with that one. It’s a disclosure of known material defects, encumbrances on the deed, past damages, etc. Basically, It’s items you might know…that the buyer has a right to know… even if you really don’t want to tell him.
You’re seller’s agent is a resource, a tool(I mean that in a good way) and your partner. Use him. Ask questions, talk frequently. This is a scary time, but it’s also full of promise. Enjoy yourself and let the agent carry some of the burdens.
Focused on Home Buyers and Sellers in Brockton, Abington, Whitman, Hanson, Halifax and East Bridgewater