How many agents does a home seller interview? According to the National Association Of Realtors 2012 profile of home sellers and buyers, not many. While 88% of US sellers sold their homes through an agent, the interview process was brief for most. Sellers don’t do much “agent shopping.”
65% interviewed only one agent and 20% interviewed two agents. Should they interview more?
At first this might sound like giving due diligence in vendor selection short shrift. When I had a deck built at my last home, I got three bids from different companies, all of which were recommendations of friends. I chose the one that I thought would do the best job based on some criteria I established and questions in my interview process. One thing that was important to me was schedule, another price, and a third was the reputation of the company and the examples of the work I could see.
So if a home sale is one of the largest transactions most people entertain, surely 65% of sellers are doing themselves a dis-service by not interviewing more agents? The transaction costs in most real estate transactions in Austin dwarf my deck building costs, so why aren’t people interviewing more? I have a few theories as to why so many people hire the first Realtor they meet:
- Agents are such good sales people and “closers” that they get a signature on the first visit
- Consumers want to spend as little time with Real Estate agents as possible and don’t want to meet any more than necessary. Kind of like vampires.
- Most consumers don’t know what to ask when they interview an agent and the listing pitch makes sense so they move forward with the first agent
- Many of the first agents to meet with consumers have either worked with them before or are a personal recommendation so the consumer wants to work with them before they even arrive
- Consumers don’t know the difference in results between a good agent and an average agent
Perhaps it’s a bit of all of these, and I fear that first-time home sellers in particular don’t know exactly what selling a home entails. The (Un-)Reality TV shows might depict an agent putting out a few balloons and baking cookies at an open house, and then signing a contract with one of the attendees. Depending on your market and your agent, your results may vary.
So what ten questions would I ask an agent interviewing to list and sell my home? (more…)