Updated: Oct 27
Many sellers fail to realize how important choosing the right agent is in their home selling process.
Common Mistakes of Sellers Choosing an Agent:
Apathy About Their Agent Choice & Not Comparing in Depth What a Few Agents Actually Offer
Because of sellers' common mistake of not seeing how important this process is, it's not uncommon for them to take an apathetic approach to analyzing what different agents are offering. Many sellers spend a lot less time than they should seeing what exactly the agents they speak to offer and how good an agent is.
Quickly Picking the First Agent That Contacts Them
What agent contacted me first? Timeliness in real estate is critical, with me paying extra for Showingtime, the best showing service in the industry by far, so that buyer's agents can immediately reach occupants about showings even if I'm in another appointment. That said, sellers are often too hasty about their agent selection. A brand new agent who is not in another appointment is a lot more likely to be available to call you as soon as you reach out vs. an agent who happens to be helping another client at the time of your initial inquiry. Brand new agents will tend to have a lot more time on their hands than experienced agents, but most sellers won't want to work with a brand new agent. I don't even like letting brand new agents fill in for me when I'm finding agent fill-ins for buyers wanting to see my listing if I'm unavailable at a time that works for the buyer, typically only using agents with more experience than I have, all with over 150 transactions under their belt, with one agent I use having over 700 past transactions.
Adam's Values (See #1 - Staying Available)
Picking the Most Persistent Agent
Just because an agent really wants to work with you, doesn't mean that they will actually do the best job. They may have a lot more time on their hands because they're not busy with other clients because they are new, or they could simply do a lot less for the clients that they serve than other agents who might be contacting you less frequently who may still be responsive to your inquiries while offering you more than someone else with the same client load at the moment but who needs to pester buyers and sellers more frequently because they don't offer as much in hopes that the prospective sellers will give in eventually.
Bandwagon Effect: Not Taking a Close Look at the Agent's Recent Listing Sales for Marketing (No Matter How Many Sales or Reviews They Have)
Did you know that bandwagon effect is a big problem in real estate? It's not uncommon for a seller to notice that an agent has plenty of sales & reviews, and assume they are good, without actually looking at any of their previous sales in-depth to check on the quality of marketing that they consistently demonstrate. Reviews & previous sales volume are important considerations, but comparing the actual marketing of agents of their most recent listings is also critical. In some cases, an agent could be experienced with over 100 sales, have dozens of reviews, and offer far superior marketing more consistently than any other agent in the area with over 1k sales and over 200 reviews. For instance, a buyer client I was working with me asked me about 3 agents they were considering hiring. One of them had record high sales volume, and listed properties mostly in the millions each, but their online marketing wasn't as good as the other 2 agents they were considering, so I suggested that they rule the bandwagon agent out. For more details, see:
Picking a "Yes Man", Who Seems the Most Enthusiastic About Your Property, Who Suggests the Highest Price, & who is the Most Agreeable Agent
Some agents can be dishonest, even if it is to the harm of the sellers they work with, in order to get a new client or close a new sale. The agents that will agree to whatever you ask may not actually be doing you a favor & may simply care more about getting you as a client than actually helping you. If an agent doesn't mention anything that you should do with the house, and agrees with your preferred price without clearly demonstrating to you why that price is best with comparable sales, beware. An agent who consistently goes above and beyond, who is also honest with the sellers that they work with, is much better than agent who sounds nice, is very friendly and agreeable, and sounds enthusiastic about your sale, but who doesn't demonstrate the kind of "enthusiasm" in each of their recent listings as they do in their conversation with you. It's not uncommon for agents to inflate the value of a property also. That said, there's been at least one occasion where I suggested a higher price than another agent without knowing it, while suggesting repairs and improvements that should be done, and then the property sold for above list price in a 2 offer situation with 1 at list price and 1 above in a hot market. Just because an agent has the highest price doesn't make them inherently dishonest, but watch out if they do for other signs of dishonesty.
Not Fact-Checking Agents About Their Experience & Claims
My next door neighbor once didn't know that I was a real estate agent. They spoke to another prospective agent and believed from that conversation that the real estate agent had sold most of the homes in the neighborhood. My neighbor didn't fact check the agent. In fact, the real estate agent hadn't sold any homes in the neighborhood yet, and his first sale was less than a year prior. The agent used language in the public remarks that was a >95% copycat of another agent's listing in the public remarks, even when copying it meant false advertising because of something that was true of another home in the neighborhood but not that particular home. They also likely didn't tell the seller, who wasn't in a hurry to sell, that they could have probably gotten a higher price if they had waited a few months, since they listed in the Winter, & home prices tend to peak in June, while being at their lowest point typically in the Winter.
Here are some of the main reasons why your agent choice is so important:
Great Agents Achieve Higher Net Profits
From a wide variety of factors, great agents achieve higher net profits. That starts before the home is ever listed, with agent feedback on what is needed to cost effectively get the home in the best shape to list. That then extends to the marketing that is done for the home, such as professional photography, area photography, aerials, and a Matterport 3-D tour. The agent's suggested list price can make or break the listing if you aren't getting a 2nd opinion. If it doesn't sell right away, the agent's suggestions on price adjustments is also important. An agent listing without the right 1 or more MLS can also sabotage a listing by not getting into buyer's agents' hands and to the buyers that they have auto-feeds to. An agent with limited if any options to put into homes beyond a lockbox can also hurt a listing. An agent with problems on effectively arranging showings again can hurt the sellers' profits substantially. An agent that fails to inform a seller of the right time to list can also hurt them substantially. An agent that is a bad negotiator can derail a viable transaction by advocating that the sellers be unreasonable in negotiations.
Dealing with Multiple Offer Scenarios
Agents have a wide variety of ways to deal with multiple offer scenarios, but how they approach that can have a big impact on the final number. Also, it's best to have a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of the different offers before you make a decision as a seller. Most agents will ask for "highest and best" and not provide many details to buyers' agents, even though providing details can sometimes mean that you would get a higher amount than you would otherwise and a better offer than you would otherwise.
Differences in Agent Honesty, Ethics, & Care for Sellers' Interests
Agent honesty, ethics and care for their sellers' best interest varies substantially. In some cases, sellers inadvertently choose dishonest agents because of their dishonesty without being aware of it. If an agent isn't honest, they won't be as likely to point out any negatives of homes. If you are unaware of the things to change about your home, you won't get as high of net profits as you could otherwise. They also could suggest a higher price than the home is actually worth, knowing that sellers are attracted to listing agents who say that a home is worth more than it really is. Listing for too high of a price can easily backfire, since if you overprice the home initially, it's not uncommon for the eventual sales price to be lower than it would have been if the home had been priced right to begin with.
Some Agents Are Much Better at Equipping Sellers Before They Are Ready to Sell
While some agents don't have many resources regarding helping sellers with getting their home ready for sale, other agents have a number of ways to help, i.e.:
Basic Preparations: 1. Preparing for a Listing Appointment with Adam Garrett
5. The Impact of Season on Real Estate Photos 6. Consider a pre-listing inspection: Detailed Questions for Home Inspectors 7. Consider sharing with your neighbors including Why & How Your Neighbors Can Help Repairs/Reno/Cleaning/Maintenance: 1. Should You Sell As is?Financing Repairs/Renovations Prior to Sale 2. Credit Card Strategies for Home Expenses 3. Cost Guide to Repairs & Remodeling 4. Where to Find Equipment To Borrow/Lease/Purchase for Your Property Repairs/Reno/Cleaning 5. Non-Profit & Government Assistance with Home Repairs 6. Water Heater Age 7. House Issues by Year
Different Agents Have Different MLS Access & Are Familiar with Different Local Customs, Local Contracts, & Local Resources
Not all agents have access to the same MLS. While I have 5, many only have 1, and there are areas I won't cover due to my lack of MLS access. If an agent does have MLS access to where you're looking, they might still be willing to work with you, but I would highly recommend against it. MLS is your first line of getting your marketing out to the public, with many buyers having feeds directly from their agent's MLS & around 86% of buyers using a buyer's agent, with most agents having MLS property feeds going to those buyers. If an agent doesn't have access to the local MLS, he shouldn't serve them, but some agents get away with it with the seller having no idea because of seller ignorance regarding MLS. An agent who doesn't have MLS access for the primary MLS of a particular city/county may also be unfamiliar with local customs, could be unfamiliar with local contracts, and could easily cause issues with a transaction if they're not familiar with the offer that buyers are likely to present in the area. I also question the ethics of any agent who would prey on seller ignorance regarding MLS by even being willing to do a listing when they don't have MLS access in the area without disclosing that the seller will be missing out on that.
Agent Experience: Brand New to Thousands of Personal Past Transactions
Agent experience can range from brand new to having helped clients to buy or sell thousands of homes. That said, agent experience isn't everything, & some buyers prefer to work with an agent that isn't so busy that they won't have much time for them, so some buyers may want to look within brackets of experience, such as agents who have sold at least 50 homes or agents who have sold at least 100 homes. You can often see how many homes they've sold on their Zillow profile, but some homes may not appear on there.
The experience of their company or the team that they are apart of doesn't matter nearly as much as their own personal experience. Sure I'm part of a company that's been around for decades in the area, & my father has personally sold thousands of properties in the area, but my personal sales volume matters a lot more than that of my company.
Vastly Different Showing Assistance
Agents that have poor response time to other agents on showings means that the seller is likely to get a lower net. Some agents are extremely slow to respond to showing requests, and because their seller isn't included directly on the conversation, their seller likely has no idea that the agent is as much of a problem as they are.
Agents that use showing services can often achieve better results with showings, but which showing service is used plays a big factor. Agents that use free services can have a number of problems, while those with Showingtime, the premier option for showings, can achieve the best results.
Did you know that with unrepresented buyers, if some listing agents aren't available, they won't arrange for another agent to show their listing until the time that they are available, even if it's days away? That means that in some cases, the buyers will move on and write on another property, never having the chance to see and consider an offer on a seller's listing. A listing agent having agent fill ins when they are unavailable is a critical component to showings.
Agents Have Vastly Different Physical & Digital Resources, w Some Having Much More than Others
While the physical and digital tools of some agents are extremely limited, that of others is substantial. In my case, I have a top 1% combination of physical & digital resources for sellers. While some agents won't add anything to a home beyond a single lockbox, i have a number of options to assist with
Informed sellers make the best decisions. Has your agent published much with guidance at every step of the home buying and home selling process with not just the basic knowledge but also with information tailored to your area (SE VA) when applicable?
Vastly Different Experiences with Agents: Check Their Reviews
Agents can range from being deadbeats and unreliable to the best thing that ever happened to a seller looking sell real estate, as you can sometimes tell by their reviews. I have dozens on various platforms.
One past client of mine stated, "Excellent job listing the property - really appreciate the 3D model and drone pictures that the other agents do not do."
Another stated, "We appreciate your commitment to marketing and the outstanding pictures and flyers you provided. You provided multiple open houses and snacks for visitors which was appreciated."
One past client of mine stated, "Honestly... I really feel I had someone reliable and trustworthy on my side. I never felt incompetent although my knowledge and experience was low to none. I never felt unnecessary stress as I knew I had a great source of knowledge available to me by the name of Adam Garrett. I had an amazing realtor, teacher, advocate and guide through the whole process and never felt alone." Another former client of mine stated, "Adam is a person with a heart of gold - a man of God. This man went out of his way to help me... He did things for me any other realtor would have never done. I have so much respect for him; he changed my life and I just want to say thank you again. I wish there were more people in this world like him. You made my dream come true. I like him as a person and am proud to have him as a friend."
For more details, see: