Checkout Lane: Your real estate agent can make or break a sale
Whether you are buying or selling a house, getting a good real estate agent can save you a lot of time and frustration.
"A good agent should be able to convey to you the importance of pricing your home correctly," said Helen Shiner, a real estate agent at Jack Conway & Co. in Quincy, Mass. "The proximity of short sales and foreclosures should also be discussed with any potential seller as they may directly affect your home's appraisal value."
Shiner stressed the importance of discussing an agent's advertising plan before selecting an agent. If you have discussed a commission that limits the agent's ability to advertise, you may not get the level of service you originally wanted.
Ask for a list-price-to-sales-price ratio from your prospective agent.
Finding an agent that can give you their full attention in many cases will prevent the process from dragging, said Carolyn Cleveland of Compass Realty in Hanover, Mass.
"There are a lot of people in the business that do it part-time and have (another) full-time job," Cleveland said. "Right now, if you are a seller and you are trying to sell your house, you want your agent to be available to answer questions from buyers or other agents, to field calls, (and) to advise you on the changing conditions of the market."
Cleveland suggested using a trade organization to locate companies in your area.
Once you contact an agent, Cleveland recommends asking for the names and numbers of recent clients as references and to find out how many closings they have made in the past year.
"Most of the agents do the most business through word of mouth referral," Cleveland said. "If you have friends or relatives that were very happy with their real estate agent, ask them who they use."
Shaunna Gately may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.