5 Things Your Seller’s Agent Should Do For You

I’ve always been a DIY guy, from building my own furniture to selling my own car to removing my kid’s stitches myself. (Okay my wife wasn’t crazy about that one.) So when it came to hiring a realtor I figured I’d do it myself as well. Turns out I was wrong, it’s tougher than it looks and years later I became a realtor myself and dug through all of the minutia to figure out just what a realtor is supposed to be doing for you and why the right realtor is indeed worth what you pay. 

It turns out that selling a house is not at all like selling other items in your life like a bike or a car. A house sale has the potential to make you quite a bit of money but it also comes with the risk of litigation and huge drops in price if it is not handled well.

 This is why most sellers hire a realtor. But what exactly should a realtor do for the money you pay? This article will dig into the 5 specifics items a realtor should be doing for you. To sell your house you’ll need: a project manager to prepare your house, a marketer to sell it, a negotiator to set the terms, Transaction management and legal guidance to protect you and a teacher to communicate the process. The realtor’s job is to be all of those in one person. So let’s break it down and talk about the big 5. Here they are:

  • Preparation
  • Marketing
  • Negotiation & Strategy
  • Management and Protection
  • Communication

A realtor should set the stage for success through Preparation

This isn’t just any sale, your money and your life are on the table (as well as where you’ll sleep) Much can be done to prepare so that  your transition is smooth and profitable. Your realtor will help you do everything from having a termite inspection performed to identifying repairs and improvements. There are a lot of people to coordinate to sell a house – the handyman, the window cleaner, the house cleaner, the carpet cleaner , the painter, the landscaper, the stager ,the photographer and the videographer. It is a big project that can use an experienced project manager. Plus a good realtor actually understands the systems of your house and can help you differentiate a sprinkler leak from a drain pipe leak and provide general repair triage so you don’t spend more than you have to but also don’t miss the items that will come up in an inspection.


A realtor should should put you in the driver's seat through Marketing

An exceptional home presentation allows you to call the shots and puts you in a position to not only get the best price but the best terms and timeline. Getting this right makes a HUGE difference to you. This is why so much energy and resources are put into marketing your home through:
  • Professional Photography
  • Professional  3D Matterport Tour
  • Professional Property Video Tour
  • Narrated video tour
  • List it Live On Air Presentation
  • Dedicated Property Website
  • Agent Caravans
These are in addition to the print media campaigns and social media campaigns happening online to make it absolutely clear that your house is prize worthy and worth competing for. 

A realtor should get you what you want through Negotiation and Strategy

Negotiation is the intentional art to using timing and leverage to get you the best deal. An example is using  a multiple counter-offer strategy to sell your house in “as is” condition, get you a higher price and get you additional time to stay in your house after the sale closes.  This is just one example of the use of strategy and timing to set a buyer up to your terms.  Another example of negotiation involves making the contracts benefit you by eliminating the buyer’s options for cancelling the contract later (remove the appraisal contingency)  and avoiding escalation clauses that can put you in an awkward situation. It also involves strategies like queueing up backup offers to protect you as a seller in the event a buyer cancels the transaction. 

Successful negotiation is built on a foundation of thoroughly vetting buyer candidates. This means  assessing every buyer’s proof of funds, their motivation for purchasing and their agent’s responsiveness.  It also involves your agent talking to a buyer’s lender to distinguish whether the buyer has a strong pre-approval rather than  a weak pre-qualification. It’s learning about the motivations of the buyers without violating discrimination laws. It’s understanding the risks of falling out of escrow after an offer is accepted and playing the game of chess well to keep your buyer on point through the finish line. 

A realtor should get you safely across the finish line through Transaction Management

Missteps can cancel or delay your transaction, cost you money and cause you to lose your leverage. There are many moving parts in a transaction. Some are critical to the future of your transaction such as receiving earnest money on time and ensuring that the buyer releases their contingencies related to the home inspection, the property appraisal and the loan so that your buyer doesn’t cancel the transaction and leave you with a failed listing.
There is no winging it. A detailed check list of deliverables combined with a professional transaction coordinator is required not only to avoid major pitfalls but also to coordinate the details of the transaction. From ordering homeowners association documents to coordinating an inspection, signing the deed, setting up an appraisal, providing a termite clearance and coordinating repairs, to confirming the title transfer before giving possession there are a slew of items that must be completed timely and properly. 

A realtor should Protect You Legally

We live in a litigious state with a minefield of risks that need to be planned for and avoided during and after the transaction. A complete and thorough disclosure of the condition of the property through the Seller Property Questionnaire is a good place to start.  We’ll make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed in your house and proper water heater bracing as well as automatic closing doors from your garage to your house. We’ll order a Natural Hazard Disclosure to assess fire risk and declare the findings appropriately. You’ll be signing hundreds of pages of documents written in legalese and will likely appreciate the expertise of an expert who can knows the contracts backward and forward and can let you know what you are signing. 

Finally a realtor keeps you in the know through Communication

You need to know what is happening throughout the transaction and have a person who can educate you in the process. Each part of the transaction should be articulated in a written guide with supporting videos. Your needs should be anticipated so that you are briefed on each stage in the transaction before they happen. It is helpful to have information packets and videos that describe  transaction topics as they come up like: “Listing Your House” and “Completing Disclosures” and  “Setting a Price” and “Selecting an Offer” and “Navigating escrow” and “Understanding closing costs”. That way you will be thoroughly satisfied with well timed and concise information at key moments in the transaction.  

So it turns out that selling a house is not a DIY job after all. You have way too much on the line to gain or lose to wing it and hope for the best. So if you’re a DIY enthusiast perhaps it’s time to shift your DIY aspirations toward finding a professional realtor. When it comes time to select that realtor knowing how well they perform in the five areas mentioned above will go a long way in separating the wheat from the chaff.   Do your research and hire smart and you’ll get the best of both the DIY and professional worlds and have a smooth and profitable sale in the process. 

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Bradley Heintz holds an MBA degree from San Diego State University Magna Cum Laude as well as a 2nd masters in Business Information Systems from SDSU. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Mathematics and Economics. Despite all the academics he has extensive hands-on experience with contracting, construction and repair.

As a credentialed teacher with kids of his own in the school system, he understands first hand the in’s and outs when it comes to neighborhoods and schools and he created a video to help share his experience with you.


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