Better Business by Robb Hicken: Hire the right real estate agent to sell your home

ROBB HICKEN, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River RegionJune 18, 2013 

Robb Hicken

The National Association of Realtors' quarterly report shows current pending home sales increased in the first quarter of 2013. But in the West, supply is holding sales back.

A few trends emerging at Better Business Bureau this past quarter are mortgage/financing problems, foreclosure issues, bidding wars and real estate agent problems.

Financing a mortgage can be complicated or easy. It begins with a trustworthy lender. Although a majority of mortgage lenders are trustworthy, the best way to gain peace of mind during this process is to be prepared and ask questions.

Foreclosure problems, either for seller or buyer, can be resolved by speaking to the right person.

Bidding wars are used on both ends of the sale - remember, it all hinges on location. If you're selling, create a website for your home. Stage the home - presentation is a differentiator. Talk with a listing agent to establish a relative asking price. Host an open house. Get an agent who works for you. Do your homework and check into the agent's background.

Other tips:

Ask for referrals. Ask friends and family members who have recently bought or sold their homes for recommendations. Ask if they were satisfied with their experiences and if they would use their agents or companies in the future. Look for residential agents and companies in the area so they will be knowledgeable about the neighborhood and the community.

Interview candidates. Once you have assembled at least four prospective agents, schedule a time to meet with them in person. If you are selling your home, each agent will make a listing presentation. This presentation allows you to become familiar with an agent's background, marketing plan and market analyses that include information about similar houses in your area that have recently sold. Make sure to find out how long the agent has been practicing, how long he or she has been with their company, and if he or she works full or part time.

Request references. Ask an agent to provide a list of references who have previously used the agent's services to buy or sell similar types of properties. Ask the references about their experiences with the agent. Check out the agency/brokerage at and the Idaho Real Estate Commission,

Ask if the agent is a Realtor. A real estate agent is required to take real estate courses and pass a licensing exam before practicing. Every Realtor has taken the same courses and passed the same exam, but a Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. That is recommended.

Discuss compensation. Usually agents and Realtors are paid through commission. The fee is usually 5 percent to 7 percent of the selling price but may vary from area to area. The percentage of the commission fee can sometimes be negotiated depending on the housing market.

Carefully read the contract. Be wary of agents who pressure you to sign documents immediately. Carefully and completely read the documents and make sure the agent clearly answers any of your questions. If you are selling your home, usually you sign a contract granting the agent exclusive rights to sell your property within a period of time.

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