This post was originally published on HomeLight.com
Does the following conversation sound familiar?
Our real estate agent still hasn’t called us back, I think it’s time we find a new one.
I know, our house has been sitting on the market for weeks without even a nibble, we can’t keep working with him.
Firing him is going to be so awkward — he’s been friends with my brother for years.
I know… can you do it?
Me? You do it.
We’ll do it together.
Actually, how about you just do it?
No, we haven’t been eavesdropping on you; and yes, we know what you’re going through.
While we can’t have that awkward conversation with your real estate agent for you, we can tell you how to part ways as painlessly as possible, and how to avoid the same mistakes when hiring your next one.
The End is Near…Now What?
If your real estate agent isn’t communicating, if they’re ignoring your requests, or if your potential buyers keep backing out, it’s time to fire your real estate agent and hire a better one.
Don’t feel bad, you have to do what’s in the best interest of your home sale. Even though it may feel like nothing could be more personal than selling your home — remember, it’s not personal, it’s business.
Step-by-Step Guide For “How to Fire My Real Estate Agent”
Step 1: Thank your agent for everything they’ve done, but say that the house isn’t selling and it’s time to part ways.
Step 2: If they try to convince you to stay, hear them out. However, if you’ve made up your mind to terminate the relationship, stay firm yet polite. There’s no need to let emotions flare up, especially if your real estate agent is a friend or acquaintance of someone you know.
Step 3: Ask to end the listing agreement. (If you’ve signed an Exclusive-Right-to-Sell Agreement, proceed to Step 4. If not, skip to Step 6.)
Step 4: If you’ve signed an Exclusive-Right-to-Sell agreement, does it include a safety clause? This clause guarantees the seller’s agent receives a commission upon the sale, even if the contract has been terminated. If this is the case, proceed to the next step. If not, skip to Step 6.
Step 5: Contact a real estate lawyer. Sometimes just telling your real estate agent that you intend to do so will be enough for them to let you out of the contract. Proceed to Step 6.
Step 6: Does your real estate agent accept the cancellation of the listing? If so, skip to Step 9. If not, proceed to Step 7.
Step 7: If the real estate agent still refuses to cancel, call his broker. If the broker accepts the termination, skip to Step 9. If not proceed to Step 8.
Step 8: If the broker refuses to accept your wishes, you may want to request another agent at the firm, or go back to Step 5.
Step 9: Once everyone agrees that it’s time to part ways, make sure to put the dissolution of your relationship in writing and include the date of termination.
Step 10: Take a deep sigh of relief.
Now That the Unpleasantness is Over, Here’s How to Hire a Better Real Estate Agent
Now somewhat jaded, you’re probably looking at the real estate world a little more warily. You want to make sure you’re not trading one poor agent experience for another, but you’re not sure how to discern the not-so-good from the good or the good from the great.
We can help with that.
While it’s paramount to ask the right questions of your real estate agents, it’s also important to do your homework and research the next real estate agent you hire.
First, take inventory of your priorities, and then rank them in order of importance. For example, is your top priority:
- To sell for top dollar?
- To sell as quickly as possible?
- To sell a type of property that’s not very common in your local market?
- To work with someone who knows your local market inside and out, will be able to answer all your questions, will know how to price your house correctly, and tell you what to realistically expect from the process and outcome?
Now that you’re armed with your priority list, ask yourself: Do I want my next real estate agent to be someone who:
- Consistently sells properties above their listing price?
- Sells homes quicker than the average real estate agent?
- Is an expert in selling properties just like yours (ie. condo vs house)?
- Is an expert in the local real estate market in your particular neighborhood?
- All of the above?
How do you find such a unicorn?
In the olden days of yore (i.e. pre-November 2012 when we launched HomeLight) people had to run the gauntlet of personal recommendations and online reviews when trying to find the right real estate agent, and hope for the best.
In the modern era, you can look at a real estate agent’s “stats” just like you would look at player’s stats when building your fantasy sports team.
Think of this information like your own crystal ball. A real estate agent’s sales record is a great indicator of the results you can expect from them in your own home sale.
Let’s dive into what these stats mean, why they’re important, and how to use them to your advantage to hire your next real estate agent.
1. Great Real Estate Agents Will Have a High Average Sale Price vs List Price
What it Means: This statistic looks at how often real estate agents sell properties in your area for above, below or at asking price. The higher the real estate agent’s average, the higher the potential that she’ll sell your home for more than another agent could.
Why it’s Important: In some areas it’s common to sell above your asking price, while in other areas it’s unheard of. You want to work with a real estate agent who consistently sells homes for more than others in your area.
This stat gives you a good idea that the agent is an excellent negotiator, and prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure both you and the buyer feel good about the deal.
How to use it to your advantage when hiring your next agent: If one of your selling priorities is to sell for the highest price possible, you’ll want to pay attention to this statistic.
Let’s look at a real life example. Debra Blanchet is a top agent in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact based on her record of selling homes at 271% of the listing price, compared to the average of 135%. This ranks her #1 out of 201 real estates in her area.
Now that you know homes in Providence County typically sell at 135% of their asking price, wouldn’t you want to work with an agent who consistently sells homes at 271% of their asking price?
2. Look for Real Estate Agents with a High Number of Homes Sold in Your Area Compared to Other Agents
What it Means: An agent who has sold more homes in a given neighborhood compared to other local agents is more likely to be your champion.
Why it’s Important: You know how your cousin is always talking about how her best friend from college who lives across the state is a rockstar real estate agent? You may be tempted to hire her, but it’s actually in your best interest to hire a local real estate agent. A sales record in one area does not translate to another.
Market conditions change so quickly, only an agent who is completely immersed in your local market will know how to price your home appropriately and give you proper expectations on timeline and the number of possible buyers.
How to use it to your advantage when hiring your next agent: All smart sellers want their agent to have in-depth knowledge of their local real estate market. This statistic is a great indicator of whether or not a real estate agent is in the thick of it.
Let’s look at another real life example. Anthony Marguleas of Pacific Palisades, CA is ranked in the top 1% out of 31,489 local agents. How did he get here? He has sold 109 homes in the Los Angeles area, compared to the average agent, who has sold five.
On the importance of hiring local agents, Marguleas explains, “A good agent is going to preview 15–20 homes per week in their area — when you’ve seen over 6000 homes in a marketplace and see the pros and cons, you get a really good idea of the value.”
Additionally, when it comes to local real estate agents, hiring a full-time agent vs part-time can make a bigger difference than you might expect.
“When you ask your agent questions, the agent needs to be able to answer them,” Marguleas says. “That [non-local] agent may not know about comps, or that the city is building a new train line.”
It all boils down to trust — your real estate agent should be knowledgeable in historical data as well as current and future factors that may affect the market.
3. Have the Real Estate Agents Sold a High Number of Properties Like Yours?
What it Means: Is your home a single family house or a condo? This statistic looks at the types of properties real estate agents have the most experience selling.
Why it’s Important: Different types of properties come with different skillsets needed to sell them. Just like you wouldn’t want Tom Brady to play tight end, you wouldn’t want an agent who specializes in single family homes to sell your condo.
How to use it to your advantage when hiring your next agent: If you live in a type of property that’s not common in your area, you’ll want to pay close attention to this statistic.
Similar to focusing on a local market, your agent should focus on your property type.
If you live in New York City, for example, your real estate agent will be able to tell you everything you could possibly need to know about what to expect selling your condo.
However, for agents who have spent most of their career selling single-family homes in the suburbs of NYC, they may not be familiar with condo sales. A condo in Manhattan has a lot of unique characteristics. The agent may not know how to price it correctly once they take into consideration HOA fees, parking spots that come with the unit, or the possibility of a special assessment.
It would be a shame to start your listing on the wrong foot due to an avoidable error. The more knowledgeable your real estate agent is about your property type, the more you’re setting yourself up to experience a successful home sale.
4. Find Agents Who Sell Homes in Fewer Days than the Average Agent in the Area
What it Means: Your neighborhood has an average time period that a home can expect to sit on the market. A lower average shows that the real estate agent knows how to sell quickly.
Why it’s Important: Much like that bowl of strawberries in your fridge that you keep forgetting to eat, homes on the market have a shelf life too. The ideal situation is, of course, for several buyers to try to snatch up your home on the day the listing is made public. However, a more realistic goal is to find an agent whose listings spend less time on the market than the average home in your area.
Not only is selling quickly in your best interest in terms of getting on with your new life in your new home, but a home that sits on the market can find itself in a downward spiral. The longer it sits on the market, the more buyers assume something must be wrong with it.
In fact, you have about 30 days that you’re in the driver’s seat as a seller. After that, the power begins to shift to the buyers.
How to use it to your advantage when choosing your next agent: If one of your priorities is to sell your home as quickly as possible, you’ll want to pay close attention to a real estate agent’s average selling time compared to the area’s average.
To look at our last real life example, Will Gaskins of Fairfax County, VA sells homes in an average of 61 days, compared to the average of 79 days. Good to know, don’t you think?
Once you dig into these numbers you begin to reclaim some of the control you may have felt like you lost after dealing with the last agent.
If you’re trying to move quickly because you already took a new job or perhaps you already bought a new house and don’t want to be stuck with two mortgages, time is of the essence. A real estate agent’s ability to find the right buyers and close the deal quickly should be a big consideration when hiring a new one.
What Has All This Taught Us About Hiring Your Next Real Estate Agent?
Once you’ve made a clean split from your old real estate agent, stay calm and think rationally about what you’d like from your next one.
To Do List:
- Make your list of priorities
- Study data on real estate agents in your area to select a few that are most likely to be a great fit
- Contact them
Don’t ignore your gut when meeting your potential real estate agents. Stats can get you about 90% of the way there, but in order to make sure this agent is the one for you, see how you feel after your first meeting. Best-in-class service should be the top priority for any real estate agent.
As soon as we figure out how to quantify gut reactions and happiness averages, we’ll be sure to add this data to the real estate agents’ profile pages.