An assortment of reasons prompt 90% of Americans to use a real estate broker when selling a home, but the essential motivation, contends Jeff LaGrange, Vice President of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois Region, is their desire for expert assistance in dealing with a high-stakes situation.
“For many, a home sale or purchase is the largest financial transaction of their lives, and it usually involves their primary residence, so it impacts their household in an extremely personal way,” said LaGrange. “With all that on the line, it’s no wonder so many retain a broker in hopes of making the process as quick, painless and profitable as possible. The key is to find the right person.”
What are some vital signs sellers should look for when selecting a broker? RE/MAX asked a sampling of its experienced brokers what advice they’d offer a friend searching for a broker in another area of the country. Here are their top six suggestions.
1. Gauge the broker’s professionalism: “You’re hiring an expert, so find out about how they do their job,” recommends Sophia Su with RE/MAX of Naperville, Naperville, Ill. She advises requesting recommendations from past clients and asking lots of questions about how the broker works.
Among the questions Su would ask: Are you a full-time broker? How do you market properties online? What resources do you have to help get my home ready for the market? How well do you know the local market?
“Knowing the local market is vital because the value of similar homes just a few miles apart can be significantly different,” said Su.
2. Seek a broker who takes time to educate you: One of a broker’s primary duties, according to Vicki Geiger of RE/MAX Top Properties in Morris, Ill., is to bring clients up to speed about the current real estate market.
“We don’t sell homes the way we did 15 or 20 years ago, and for many sellers, that’s the last time they were in the market. Technology, especially the internet, has had a huge impact on how homes are marketed; property values have changed, as have buyer priorities. It’s a different world, and I feel it’s part of my job to be sure sellers understand the current market,” Geiger said. As an example, she pointed out that brokers today can position listings on dozens of websites and highlight the features of each home with multiple photographs and video footage. “It’s a level of exposure for homes that was literally unimaginable when I first entered this business.”
3. Help the broker understand your situation and motivations: No broker can do the best possible job without fully understanding their sellers’ objectives, noted Kevin Burke of RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, Ill.
“For some sellers, maximizing the check they receive at closing is the major concern, but that’s not always the case,” Burke explained. “For others, timing may be the most critical consideration because they need to relocate by a certain date. And some just want to get the property sold with the least amount of hassle. Whatever the case, you want your broker to understand your situation and priorities.”
4. Explore the costs of selling: A clear understanding of what it will cost to sell is another basic building block of a good working relationship with any broker.
“Sellers often focus on the broker’s commission, but there are other costs beyond that,” said Michael Lescher of RE/MAX Showcase, Gurnee, Ill. “There are fees for things such as a survey and title search, and here in Illinois there will be attorney’s fees and prior year’s property taxes for which the seller is responsible. It makes sense to go through those costs at the beginning of the process so the seller can plan for what’s coming.”
5. Expect the broker to suggest a fair sales price for your property and provide a detailed explanation of how that conclusion was reached: Pricing a home realistically is something of an art because so many factors can impact its value, including current competition, recent sales, location and condition, according to Bill Grossmann of RE/MAX Vision 212, Chicago.
“A broker should be able to explain the rationale behind the recommended price,” Grossmann said. “Still, sellers must understand that brokers don’t control the market or define the value of a property. Only buyers have that power.”
6. Respect the broker’s recommendations: Often the most important two things a broker can do for a seller are to suggest small changes that make a big difference in how a home resonates with buyers and then help the seller through the negotiations that move a transaction from initial offer through closing.
“Developing that kind of successful partnership between seller and broker depends on building a level of trust and communication,” said Lescher.
RE/MAX Northern Illinois has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989 providing a full range of residential and commercial services. With more than 2,200 sales associates and 106 offices throughout the area, RE/MAX Northern Illinois has helped thousands of families with their home buying and selling needs. For more information, visit www.remax.com or download the RE/MAX mobile real estate app.
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