How to get the most from your Realtor – part II

Last week, I wrote about what to expect from the Realtor who lists your house for sale. In short, a listing agent’s job is to get you the highest price in the shortest time with the least inconvenience. To do so, it’s important to come to some agreements up front—who is responsible for what, how you want to communicate, and more. Selling a property in a reasonably short period of time depends on two factors: price and exposure. Price is up to you (with advice from your Realtor) and marketing is up to your Realtor.

I know it can feel like an invasion of privacy to have people know your business—see pictures of your bathroom, be allowed to peek in your closets, and learn about all the little bummers that come with owning this particular house (which you’ll need to disclose). But here’s the thing, if you don’t let your Realtor share all the relevant information in all the possible places, it’s like asking someone to drive your car but not allowing them to put gas in the tank.

Your Realtor should be allowed to put up a yard sign, distribute flyers, upload information to the Multiple Listing Service, and advertise your property online and elsewhere. Let them make presentations to their colleagues and real estate professionals in competing offices and invite everyone on a tour to preview your house.

Encourage your Realtor to maximize their creativity in highlighting your property’s best features. This is part of what you pay them for. If they recommend hiring a photographer and/or videographer, be open to it. In this day and age, high-quality photos and videos help you stand out.

Being Proactive
In addition to marketing your property, your Realtor is responsible for advising you on everything from recommendations on inspections and upgrades to contract negotiations. You might not like everything your Realtor has to say, but you should listen, nonetheless.

As I mentioned in my last column, your Realtor will probably suggest that you make your home feel more spacious and modern by removing a third of its contents and upgrading the décor (including paint and flooring).

Your Realtor will also ask you to complete legal disclosures as early and thoroughly as you can. The first of these is the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS). You must fill this out. Your Realtor cannot do this for you because the form includes questions only you know the answers to. It is a three-page document, but if there’s a lot to disclose, you may need to add pages. Your Realtor will also tell you about all the other disclosures you’ll need to provide.

Doing disclosures up front prevents the sale process from getting derailed later. When you supply information to a prospective buyer when they are formulating their offer, it decreases the chance that they’ll reduce their offer later because of something they discover about the property. Also, once they’re done, disclosures cannot interrupt the close of escrow at the last minute.
Next come inspections. Your Realtor will help you decide which inspections to do and provide the names of a few trusted inspectors. Again, the sooner you have the inspection reports, the more you can share with prospective buyers so they can make an offer with a complete picture of what they’re getting.

Taking hard advice
If your property has been on the market for an extended period, your Realtor may recommend a price reduction. The goal is to find the best price someone will pay. Sometimes, market conditions change while your house is listed, like two years ago when interest rates started at 2.5% and then climbed a half a percent a month for several months. Interest rates affect price, and there was no way for you or your Realtor to know rate hikes were coming.

If at any point your Realtor isn’t meeting your expectations, talk to them. They cannot know how you’re feeling if you don’t say something. They can either change their behavior or explain their actions so you understand them and how they benefit you and the sale of your house. Or, you can agree to part ways.

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.

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