CHICAGO – When it’s time to sell their home, most Americans have their eye on the bottom line. RE/MAX brokers say sellers want to know, first and foremost, how much their home is worth, what commission the broker will charge and how much they might have to spend to get the home ready to sell.
“Those are vital questions, but they aren’t the only ones,” said Jack Kreider, executive vice president and regional director of RE/MAX Northern Illinois.
Choosing a broker can be confusing because most of us sell a home only every 10 to 15 years, and the real estate business has seen dramatic changes over the last decade thanks to the internet.
According to Kreider, the secret to success lays in choosing a broker whose approach to selling homes meshes with a seller’s goals and preferences, and the way to make that happen is to ask the right questions.
Based on interviews with RE/MAX brokers, here are five questions that sellers should definitely ask when selecting a selling broker.
What is an appropriate listing price?
Whatever the ultimate sales price, the listing price is a vital important starting point, noted Mary Reuter Kenney of RE/MAX Excels in Geneva, Ill.
“Some sellers and some brokers may be tempted to start with an elevated list price hoping to find an eager buyer, but if the list price is too high, it can keep buyers away. The longer a home sits on the market, the lower its eventual selling price is likely to be, so a realistic list price is essential. Sellers should ask a broker to present a list price recommendation based on the recent sales prices of comparable homes in the area, while also keeping the impact of current competition in mind.”
What are the expenses, besides commission, that sellers will face?
“Many sellers aren’t aware that there are selling expenses beyond the broker’s commission,” said Kyra Pych of RE/MAX in the Village, Realtors, Oak Park, Ill.
“Those fees will vary depending on local custom, so even with experienced sellers, I go through all that with them: costs for title search, for the lot survey, for attorney fees, transfer taxes and other things. In some cases, those fees can determine whether or not a seller must bring money to the closing table, so they need the full picture,” she said.
How will you market my home, especially online?
Because more than 90 percent of buyers use the internet as part of their home search, effective online marketing is vital these days.
“Sellers need to understand how a prospective broker approaches internet marketing,” said Karen Danenberg of RE/MAX Suburban in Buffalo Grove, Ill. “If done right, it lets buyers get to know a house before they walk in, but to do that you need good pictures and good verbiage. If I were a seller, I’d ask to see how a broker had marketed comparable properties, and not just the photos and text on the MLS, but also what they did on social media, which is becoming a huge factor.”
How will the seller and broker work together?
It’s a key issue and one with many dimensions, noted Damian Ciszek of RE/MAX 10, Chicago, but there can be marked differences among brokers.
“I work on my own,” Ciszek explained, “so I handle everything for my clients, but other brokers may be part of team of brokers or may have unlicensed assistants who deal with some aspects of the sales and marketing process. Sellers should understand from the beginning what information they will be getting and how frequently and just what is expected of them.”
What is the broker’s approach to preparing a home for sale?
Some brokers focus on maximizing value. That can mean a fair amount of pre-listing preparation for the seller but also a higher sales price. Other brokers are more willing to price a home to reflect its current condition if the buyer lacks the time or the resources to make cosmetic improvements.
Jennie McLaughlin of RE/MAX Hub City in Rochelle, Ill., said she is among those who emphasize making the homes she lists more salable, both in terms of exterior curb appeal and interior appearance.
“Curb appeal is extremely important because it defines the first impression that buyers have of the property. Inside the home, it isn’t always necessary to invest a lot of money, but getting the home clean and decluttered can pay huge dividends, not only in a better sales price but also in a faster sale,” she said.