Selling Orange County real estate can be a tough job! It involves an understanding of legal, accounting, marketing, sales and business management. When you think about it, it involves a lot more than a nice smile. Here are some important questions to ask before hiring a broker/agent.

Get Some Background Info

1. Experience

How long have you been employed in this business? Generally 5 or more years is good. It takes time to learn your way around and develop a network. In addition, if you can hire a broker, you are likely to get somebody who understands all aspects of the business. A broker is required by law to have 3 times the education and experience that an agent has.

2. Education

What is your education? There are 2 aspects to this. General and Professional. A good general understanding of legal, ethical, business, marketing, management, and accounting is a significant advantage when buying and selling real estate. These skills really pay off in helping you to see the big picture and manage the process efficiently. In addition, industry specific training is required such as Understanding the forms, procedures, product, and of course the most important is sales training.

3. Additional Training

What sales training do you have? There are all kinds of excellent coaches and programs. What you want to see is that the agent has obtained and more importantly can use his knowledge to handle objections and close sales. Below are the top 5 objections that agents encounter. Use them when interviewing your agent. How well he or she answers your questions will determine how well he or she will answer other people’s questions and get you a sale.

Test your prospective agent’s objection handling ability!

1. We want you to cut your commission.
Answer: I’m sorry, I cannot do that. If they don’t even try to defend their own worth, they certainly will not defend your home’s worth.
2. Let’s list high; we can always come down later.
Answer: I can appreciate that, have you considered the problem that creates for you. By listing high, most people will not even look at your home. Would you rather have a bidding war on your home or not have an opportunity to negotiate any offers at all? – If the agent doesn’t even try to list your home for the correct price, them you know that they can’t control a conversation and has no standards at all. They are just too weak.
3. Another agent said they could get me more money.
Answer: I can appreciate that and what you probably don’t understand is that an agent that takes your listing overpriced assumes they can take the listing now and then start beating you up on the price week after week after week. They are afraid to tell you the truth up front. Let;s do the right thing and simply sign the contract. – This is true and furthermore, the agent needs to try to close the deal.
4. We want to think it over.
Answer: I can appreciate that. This is a big decision. What specifically do you want to think about? – A great agent needs to probe for more information in order to best help his clients.
5. We want to only give you a 30-day listing.
Answer: I am sorry, I cannot do that. Six months is our company policy. All we need to do now is simply sign the contract so that we can get your home sold! This agent would be polite, but firm, and at the same time moving to a close.

Ask these questions and listen to how your agent responds. Experienced, well-trained agents can handle them rather smoothly and preserve the rapport with their prospect. Weak, unprepared agents will trip up, cringe, sweat, be embarrassed and generally not handle the questions well. The worst agents will just plain give in and give away the farm the first time they are asked. I guarantee that you will feel a lot better when you know your home is being represented by a strong, courteous and well-prepared agent/broker.

Find out if your agent has the courage to tell you the truth.

Knowledge is power, but to get it, you need to work with someone who can dish out the good news with the bad news and help you make important decisions at this emotional time. To test this out, I recommend asking information about the following topics.

1. What sells homes?
Great question. The answer is great sales people. Other than hiring a great agent who will expose your home to the market and handle emotional buyers for you professionally, the next best thing you can do is price your home appropriately! You really need somebody who will tell you in detail about market conditions and realistic pricing.
2. What methods of exposing my home to the market will results in the most number of interested buyers?
There are many sources of data for this. The following data is this industry’s best estimate based on homes sold.
Home Sales Infographic

Use these numbers to see what areas your agent uses to effectively market your home. If you have exposure in the top four areas then your home is exposed to the market. I like to use these numbers to see if your prospective agent is selling you the truth. E.g., if they are selling you on how important open houses are, just because they think you want to hear it, then you know they are trying to snow you! There is nothing wrong with using any method of marketing. Let’s just be real about the expected results. You are an intelligent seller and I think you want and deserve the truth.

3. Communication
How long does it take to get a call back? You need to test this one several times! Most times you and your buyers want to be able to speak directly to a skilled professional. Good agents/brokers will be busy making it happen, but they always find time to return calls either in the morning or afternoon. You need to be able to differentiate from someone who is working hard and someone who is hardly working.

Lastly, pride and job satisfaction go a long way. Look for someone who likes what they do and takes pride in doing a great job. If you hire and develop a relationship with a person like this, I guarantee that they will take care of you and you will have a great transaction.

For more information and a chance to work with a great real estate broker, call John Daniel (949) 481-7358.