7 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an Agent to Sell Your Home

You know that you need an agent to sell your home for top dollar. You don’t want to go the “For Sale By Owner (FSBO)” route because you’ve heard horror stories of homes that sit on the market for months (or longer) and you don’t want that that to be your story. You want a qualified real estate professional to sell your home quickly and for as much money as possible.

But the only problem is that you’re not sure what to look for. What are the most important things to consider when hiring a listing agent to sell your home?

Sometimes, it’s easier to know what to avoid. In this post, we’ll discuss the most common mistakes many home sellers make when choosing a listing agent. Let’s get started.

Here’s a list of best practices to follow when choosing a listing agent for your home.

Mistake #1: Not Choosing Your Broker Wisely

Let’s quickly define the terms of broker and agent. You often hear these terms used interchangeably, but brokers and agents are different.

Here are the similarities: Both brokers and agents are real estate professionals and both can sell homes. The difference is that a real estate broker is required to continue their education and pass an additional exam for a real estate broker’s license. This state-issued exam is more rigorous than the exam given to real estate agents.

A real estate broker can work as an agent, but not the other way around. Real estate brokers can also work for themselves, or hire real estate agents to work for them. However, real estate agents cannot work for themselves.

Think of an agent as a salesperson for a broker. The broker is responsible for the agent. This responsibility also extends to training the agent. So, when you’re hiring an agent, you’re also hiring the broker. Some brokers are more hands-off but, at BOND, we have an intensive training and certification program for all of our agents—it’s the most comprehensive in the industry. We ensure that all of our agents are well-prepared for selling your home.

Mistake #2: Going for the Big Sell

Some agents will say whatever it takes to sign you on as a client. One of the most common mistakes to avoid? Choosing an agent because he or she promises to sell your home for more than the other agent(s) quoted.

Sure, it’s an ego boost to hear that your home can sell for tens of thousands more than you were quoted previously. But, don’t fall for it. As a general rule, if you’ve interviewed five agents, and four of them say that your home will sell at $660,000 and one of them says $705,000, throw out the highest bidder. One of these is not like the other. While they’ll get an “A” for optimism, an unreasonably high listing price isn’t going to sell your home.

Many agents understand that going lower attracts more interest and can even drive up the price of the home. You want to start out with a strong listing price, but not one that’s overly confident. If your listing price is too high, you can repel a lot of buyers. And any buyer’s agent who knows the area won’t, in good faith, show your over-priced home to their buyer.

Plus, banks won’t offer a loan for a home that doesn’t appraise at asking.

A good listing agent will research comparable homes in the area and set your expectations for how much your home can realistically sell for—even if it disappoints you. You need an agent who gives it to you straight, not someone who tells you what you want to hear.

Mistake #3: Going for the Lowest Commission

Speaking of what you want to hear, avoid agents who offer you the lowest commission to sell your home. That’s a bad sign.

Think about it: You want an agent who can negotiate the best price for your home. What does it say when the agent can’t even negotiate the best commission rate for themselves? If they’re undercutting themselves, what will they do when it comes to your home?

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

When working with a lower commission, the agent won’t have as much capital to spend on marketing for your home. Your listing will suffer because of it. You need to market to as many eyeballs as possible.

And here’s one more important reason not to go for the lowest commission. The commission you agree to (customarily six percent from the purchase price of your home) is usually split 50/50 between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent, with each agent receiving three percent in most cases. If your listing agent agrees to a lower commission than 6%, the buyer’s agent is then forced to accept a lower commission also.

A lot of buyer’s agents will avoid showing homes with low commissions to their clients.

Mistake #4: Buying the Marketing

Some real estate agents are advertising aggressively for themselves. You can see their smiling face everywhere: on billboards, park benches, and subway signs.

That doesn’t mean that the agent is the right one for you. Just because they’re good at marketing themselves, it doesn’t automatically translate to marketing your home. Research the agent’s track record in actually selling homes. Ask the agent to show you how they market their current client’s homes—and look at the proof.

Also, don’t make the common mistake of choosing an agent that promises non-stop open houses. Open houses can be effective at selling your home, but it’s rare. Only two percent of open houses end up in a sale.

Don’t just buy the promises, look for the results.

Mistake #5: Choosing the Agent Who Aligns With Your Opinion

Do you really want a “yes” man or women selling your home? If you blindly choose an agent that agrees with everything you say, you’ll regret it.

Think about it: The reason you’ve decided to work with an agent to sell your home is because he or she has the experience and the know-how. Don’t reject their professional advice simply because it’s not what you want to hear.

I understand that’s easier said than done. That’s why it’s so important to choose an agent who has a proven track record for selling homes. Then, you can depend on their experience when you’re unsure of their advice.

Mistake #6: Choosing a Part-Time Agent

One of the first questions that you should ask a potential agent before signing with them is: Do you work as a full-time agent or do you sell houses on the side?

If the agent works part-time, skip to the next.

I know that sounds harsh, but you need someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes real estate—not someone who does it on the side.

Selling your home is a full time job, which is one of the reasons why you don’t do it yourself. It takes a lot of time to research comparable homes in the area and market your home accordingly. That’s not to mention fielding calls of interest in your home, scheduling showings, attending showings, and more.

If your agent doesn’t work full-time, you could be missing a lot of opportunities to sell your home—calls that may be answered by other real estate agents.

Mistake #7: Not Asking the Right Questions

When you interview your prospective agent, are you asking the right questions? Here are the top questions you should ask:

  1. How much can you sell my home for?
  2. Tell me about your most recent sales. How much did the home sell for?
  3. What’s your average ratio between listing price and final selling price? (Hint: look for the smallest ratio, it indicates that the seller is good at pricing homes)
  4. What’s the shortest time in which you’ve sold a home?
  5. Do you specialize in selling my type of home?
  6. What will be your marketing strategy for selling my home for the most money in the shortest amount of time?
  7. Can you give me references for the last three homes you’ve sold?

Final Thoughts

Avoid these mistakes and you’ll find the perfect agent to list and sell your home. Rest assured, the perfect agent is out there, and you can start your search right here.

Don’t forget to download this list of best practices for finding the perfect listing agent for your home.

Lease On Life

Did you know that New York ranks 50th out of 50 states (down from 49th in 2013) with regard to the percentage of residents registered as organ donors?

Every year, 10,0000 people waiting for organ transplants must rely on an available pool of around 220 organ donors. Every 18 hours, another New Yorker is added to the organ donor wait list.

We’re committed to helping New Yorkers find the perfect home. And now, we’re working to help save thousands of lives right here in NYC with a bold new initiative called Lease on Life.

Donate Life Here: www.donatelife.net/register

*Data is provided by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)/Scientific Registry of Transplat Recipients (SRTR)/United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). April 12, 2013. Other stats (where citied) are provided by one of the nonprofit federally designated organ procurement organizations for the Greater New York metropolitan Area (LiveOnNY).

The Number One Mistake to Avoid When You’re Buying a Home

House hunting can be fun. But, do you know what’s not fun? Paying thousands of dollars extra for the wrong home that you’ve settled for after months of fruitless searching.

Allow me to introduce you to the home buyer’s number one mistake: not using a buyer’s agent.

I get it. We live in a DIY culture. Everyone wants to do it themselves to save a few extra bucks and earn that invisible badge of self-accomplishment. But, when it comes to house hunting, DIYing can cost you time and a lot of money.

If you want to buy a home, you need to work with a buyer’s agent. He or she is determined to find the right home for you—and they have the experience to deliver. Let’s discuss what a buyer’s agent does and how hiring one will help you find your own slice of NYC.

Check out this list of what to ask your potential buyer’s agent.

What is a Buyer’s Agent?

The buyer’s agent is your partner in finding the right home at the right price. A buyer’s agent will help you through every stage of the home buying process, from house hunting to signing on the dotted line.

In house buying, there are primarily two types of agents that you’ll encounter: the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.

Nine out of 10 sellers understand the benefit of working with an agent to sell their home. So, as a home buyer, you’ll almost always deal with the seller’s agent, and not the seller directly.

But, the seller’s agent won’t help you get the lowest price for the home. They have a fiduciary responsibility to help the home seller earn as much as possible. So, everything you tell them can and will be used against you to get the seller the best price possible.

The buyer’s agent is your representative. Instead of dealing with a seller’s agent, you’ll work with your buyer’s agent. He or she will take your list of needs and wants and find the right property.

You can speak confidentially to your buyer’s agent. You can even divulge the max amount you’re willing to spend for a home to your buyer’s agent. He or she will not use that information against you when negotiating the purchase of a home—but a seller’s agent will.

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Buyer’s Agent?

Let’s take a look at the biggest reasons why you should work with a buyer’s agent.

You’ll Have a Representative Who’s Invested in You

A buyer’s agent is just that—someone who works on your behalf.

While the listing agent has a responsibility to be ethical with both the seller and the buyer, always remember that they don’t work for you, the buyer. The listing agent protects the seller’s best interests. In fact, they’re legally bound to do so. The listing agent won’t work against their client, the homeowner, to get you, the buyer, the best deal.

However, that’s exactly what a buyer’s agent does. He or she will keep your best interests in mind when they find suitable listings, negotiate with the seller, and help you navigate the closing process. Your buyer’s agent will represent you (including your needs, wants, and special requests) through it all.

Experience

One of the biggest benefits of hiring a buyer’s agent is experience. It’s their job to find purchase-worthy homes. Hopefully, the buyer’s agent you choose will have a proven track record of finding homes for their clients.

Because your buyer’s agent will have walked through exponentially more homes than the average buyer, they’ll be able to spot red flags quicker than you might be able to. They’ll use this knowledge to help you when it comes time to place an offer.

The buyer’s agent will also have more knowledge of the real estate market, including comparable home pricing in your desired neighborhood and the recent history of home sales.

Get the Inside Scoop

Often times, a buyer’s agent will have the inside scoop. It’s very likely that your buyer’s agent will know about “For Sale” homes that aren’t yet listed on the major sites that you have access to. Agents network with each other, and listing agents provide special open house showings just for buyer’s agents.

When you work with a well-connected buyer’s agent, you’ll be able to find homes before they get listed on the well-trafficked listing sites.

Objectivity

House hunting is an emotional process, and you’re bound to lose your objectivity in the middle of your search. You’ll find ways to settle for X so that you can get Z, but a good buyer’s agent will help you remember your core wants and needs and steer you toward the right solution.

Your buyer’s agent should act as the voice of reason. He or she will know what to look for. They’ll see the cracks in the foundation that you can’t (or won’t) see, and will warn you accordingly. Or better yet, not even show you a listing that wastes your time.

Your buyer’s agent won’t form an emotional attachment to a home, and will be able to help you consider and compare homes fairly and based on the merits of your wish list.

Free Up Your Time


You’ve got a lot of things going on. You juggle work, family, friends, and social engagements. Sure, house hunting is fun, but it can start to feel like a part time job after a while—and no one likes working a part-time job on top of a normal nine to five. Plus, with the fast paced home listing and selling environment in NYC, house hunting here is a time commitment.

Do you really want to spend every waking hour scouring the real estate ads to see which new houses have hit the market?

Of course not. That’s why you should work with a buyer’s agent. It’s their job to spend hours on end searching for the right home for you.

Schedule Showings

Have you ever tried to schedule a showing? Here in the city, it can be quite difficult to coordinate your time with the seller and the seller’s agent, and then there’s the madness of back and forth phone calls.

Avoid all of this by working with a buyer’s agent who can organize multiple showings and fit them into your schedule and not the other way around.

Help During the Buying Process


It’s one thing to look for a home, but it’s another to actually buy it. If you’ve never purchased a home before, or you’ve never done it in NYC, you’re going to get overwhelmed.

But this is why you need a buyer’s agent. The buyer’s agent is not only for helping you find suitable listings. He or she will also help you with the following:

  • Price negotiations: Your buyer’s agent will help you stand out from other competing offers. It’s not just about making the highest offer, sometimes including concessions in your offer can make it look more attractive to the seller.
  • Deadlines: Your buyer’s agent will make sure you stay on track and never miss a deadline that could delay or disrupt your purchase.
  • Contracts: Your buyer’s agent will be able to write a well-crafted real estate contract that protects you as the buyer.
  • Resources: Your buyer’s agent should help you find the right mortgage broker, real estate attorney, home inspector, moving company, and more.

It’s Free*

Oh, did I forget to mention that hiring a buyer’s agent is free?

So, what’s up with the asterisk? What’s the catch? How can a buyer’s agent provide a free service for you?

Here’s how it works:

While working with a buyer’s agent is a free for you, that doesn’t mean that the buyer’s agent works for free. The buyer’s agent is usually paid through the listing agent upon the sale of the home.

You see, the listing agent agrees with the home seller to make a commission on the sale of the home, which is usually around 6% of the final price. The listing agent usually shares that commission with the buyer’s agent—most commonly at a 50/50 split. So both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent receive 3% of the final price of the home.

The fine print? Sellers consider and factor in a listing agent’s commission into the pricing of their home. So, although the price of the home affects the seller’s bottom line, you’re still the one who’s technically paying for the agents’ commissions because you’re the only one who’s bringing money to the table.

Even if you don’t work with a buyer’s agent, the home seller will still agree to pay the listing agent a set commission. So that 5% to 6% is still tacked on to the home’s listing price, whether you work with a buyer’s agent or not.

If you do work with a buyer’s agent, you won’t have to pay for it separately. It will come out of the commission that’s already built into the home’s listing price. Think of a buyer’s agent as a built-in, complimentary service that comes along with house hunting.

You get free representation in the home buying process, so why not use it?

What are the Drawbacks of Hiring a Buyer’s Agent?

Not all buyer’s agents are equal.

Because you’ll need to rely on this agent to find you the best home for the best price, you need someone who understands your unique wishlist.

And because you’re going to work closely with this agent, you need someone who’s fits your personality.

Don’t just sign a contract with the first buyer’s agent you come across unless they meet a set standard. Check out our resource below on what to ask a potential buyer’s agent during your interview.

Here’s your list of questions to ask your potential buyer’s agent.