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Essential Questions to Ask a REALTOR® Before Listing Your Property

Essential Questions to Ask a REALTOR� Before Listing Your Property


You've decided that it's time, for one reason or another, to put your house on the market. This job calls for a lot of diligence and responsibility. For this transaction process to go as smooth as possible, while earning you the highest dollar amount possible, you need to call on a professional.

How do you know when you've found the right man or woman for the job? You can start by asking candidates the following questions, so you know your home's sale is in good hands.

In which neighborhoods do you specialize in?

Besides the home itself, the neighborhood is an essential determining factor for home buyers. Consumers want to about the type of community, the quality of the school district they'd be sending their children to, and what kinds of goods and services are in the area.

If not an expert on the area, your listing agent should be prepared to promote everything that it has to offer to a potential buyer. They're not only selling your home but what surrounds it.

How do you arrive at the listing price?

Different agents might have their approach to doing this, but for the most part, agents will curate a list of similar properties that have either recently sold or are active on the market.

Websites like Zillow offer consumers property value estimates (Zestimates) based on an algorithm that takes these same details into account. The most significant difference between something like a "Zestimate" compared to an agent's competitive market analysis is that Zillow has not been to your house. They are strictly basing the property value off of perception. 

A REALTOR® will consider that you updated your kitchen or that you might need to replace your roof. You might be pleasantly surprised with the agent's proposed listing price, or maybe even disappointed. Nonetheless, a good agent will tell you exactly what the value is based on their research and then plan to get you the most money possible.

How will we communicate?

As we're in the midst of a low-inventory market, new listings for sale will undoubtedly draw a lot of attention. If your property is in good condition and priced appropriately, one should expect to receive a large number of showings and potentially multiple offers.

Consistent communication between you and your agent is essential for navigating a surplus of interested parties to select the best suitor ultimately. Be sure to establish a convenient line of communication with your agent to help you stay on top of every detail; this is, of course, the sale of your most expensive asset.

How long will this process take?

Some online brokerages have taken the liberty of claiming that they can sell your home in X number of days or will not charge a commission.

While promising an exact deadline is not only infeasible, it's simply not fair to you as a homeowner. Yes, it's true that because of the state of the housing market, homes are selling fast because there is a shortage of inventory. But it's important to keep in mind that there are also many boxes to check off the to-do list before getting to the closing table. Inspection deadlines and financing deadlines, buyers' needs and requests, and more can all be points that might change a closing date.

At Century 21, we strive to be transparent about any nuances that might occur throughout the process, so you're prepared as necessary.

How should I prepare my house to list?

Here is a discussion that should occur very early on in the process, perhaps one of the first conversations had.

It's essential for two reasons:

  1. You want to ensure that any changes you make to your home will appeal to consumers.
  2. You don't want to make any unnecessary alterations that will prove to be a waste of time and money.

An agent who knows the market and has an eye for what appeals to the modern homebuyer will be able to give you the proper direction.

Do you have qualified professionals you’d recommend before listing?

Agents typically have a network of professionals that they call on to prepare a listing going on the market. This list might include a photographer, interior designer, and more. However, if there are items that your agent recommends fixing or updating, find out if they have an individual that you can call on for the job. 

What is your commission? And what does this cover?

For many homeowners, this is the first question on their mind when they sit down with an agent, and who's to blame them? The more you have to pay an agent, the less cash you'll walk away with at closing, but not always.

Some agents undercut the average commission in the marketplace to attain more listings. Doing so is frowned upon amongst agents, and here's why:

Good listing agents strive to get their sellers the most money possible for their property, and the commission is a tool to help them do so.

Take a look at this example:

Agent A proposes that no other agent will beat his low commission of 4%, which in turn, means you have to pay less out of your profits. Because Agent A still has to pay their bills, a small percentage of the projected pay, if any, will go towards marketing efforts for your property.

Agent B charges 5% and has budgeted a set amount of dollars to go towards marketing efforts like flyers, Facebook Ads, or more.

Let's say your property lists at $300,000 and because there is limited inventory, Agent A can get you the full asking price. After you take the commission into account, you're left with $288,000.

On the other hand, Agent B invested in proper marketing tactics to drive more consumers towards your property. Thus, they could negotiate an extra $6,000 towards the sales price for a total of $306,000. After commission, you're left with $290,700, an additional $2,700 in your pocket.

Be sure to ask your agent about their marketing strategy and how they plan to get you more money for your property and how it justifies their commission. It might just mean more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

Can you also help me find a home?

Selling your home means that you need a place to move. As a seller, there is so much energy, not to mention emotions, involved when moving. Now throw finding another house to live in into the mix.

Ensure that your agent has experience in both the buying and selling side and try to find out what proposed strategy they have in place to help make this transition as seamless as possible.

Do you do assisted showings? Will you be present at the home inspection? Appraisal? etc.

Determine your agent's involvement in different steps throughout the process from start to finish. Typically, assisted showings would be the choice of you, the seller. There are pros and cons to having your agent present at showings with buyers and their buyer agent, but it's ultimately your decision as a seller.

As your representative throughout a transaction, your agent should be present at significant events such as the home inspection, appraisal, and final walk-through, in case any unforeseen issues arise.

Can you provide me with any references?

An agent with positive testimonials and references from past clients won't blink twice when it comes to showing them off. So, don't hesitate to ask.


For those considering selling For Sale by Owner (FSBO), we would like to offer one piece of advice. Consider interviewing agents, regardless of your intentions. It's common for those selling on their own to run into, what might be costly, errors that arise from miscommunicated information while dealing with legal obligations during the transfer of property. Thanks to E&O insurance, working with a licensed REALTOR® would protect you from potential lawsuits

Hiring the right individual for the job can make a world of difference, especially on such a significant transaction. Keep in mind that your REALTOR® is operating as your representative, and you should feel comfortable that he or she takes this responsibility seriously. By asking the right questions, you put yourself in a position to hire the right person.

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