Many sellers do not fully understand the sales process and the role of a real estate agent. Here are some of the most often asked questions agents receive from sellers.
What is a “Listing Agreement”?
A “listing agreement” is a document which lays out the contractual terms between the seller and the agent who will be listing the property.
Who pays the buyer’s agent?
The seller is responsible for paying the listing commission on the home—the listing office and agent then split that commission with the buyer’s agent and office. Commissions are typically paid only at closing, out of the proceeds of the sale of your home.
What is a “dual agent”, and do you practice dual agency?
“Dual agency” refers to the practice of a single agent representing both the buyer and the seller during the real estate transaction. When an agent acts in a dual capacity, they owe the same fiduciary responsibility to both parties. Most states have a required brochure or pamphlet, which details the responsibilities of buyer’s agents, seller’s agents, and dual agents. Sellers considering the use of a dual agent should pay particular attention to the difference in responsibilities when an agent acts as a representative of both the buyer and the seller.
When an experienced, competent agent undertakes the responsibility of acting a dual agent, the agent no longer acts as an “advocate” for one party or the other. Rather, the agent becomes more of a mediator. In theory, because the agent knows the details of each party’s bottom line, the agent can negotiate a solution that will please both parties.
What type of information will my agent need from me?
To do the best job for you, your agent will need the best information you can provide. This would include such things as:
- your financial goals regarding the sale of your home
- willingness to listen to your agent’s advice
- flexibility in accepting terms and conditions
- preferred timing for a sale
- disclosure as to any defects the property may have
- details about the positive aspects of the home
How does an agent figure out the asking price?
I want you to understand your market and pricing, so I will teach you everything you need to know to confidently price your home in its current market, based on market information I gather on a weekly basis on the pace of the market and supply and demand ratios. I study these ratios weekly to give my clients a competitive advantage when selling their home. We’ll look at the market from a variety of perspectives and see where your home fits in. The data will be in an easy to understand format and will make sense to you.
Gathering and preparing this data is time consuming, and I do it because I believe it’s important for you to feel totally confident in the pricing decision you make.
Each week I will update you with market information to ensure we have your home positioned properly.
How will an agent market my home?
In addition to being a Realtor, I’m a professional real estate photographer. Photography is a critical element in getting noticed both online and offline. I promise, the photos of your home will showcase it well and produce results: showings that lead to offers. One of my college degrees is in Writing, so the property descriptions will be appropriate and inspire buyers to visit your home.
My marketing pieces are produced by professionals. Marketing will be mailed to potential buyers I have identified and to my network. Your listing will be on our company website, my website, all Northwest MLS affiliated sites, and syndicated to all other major real estate sites on the internet. My goal is to get as many eyes as possible on your home, as many buyers to your door as possible, and the best offer to you, quickly.
Can’t I just sell my house by myself?
Of course. Historically, many sellers have sold their homes as For Sale By Owners (FSBOs). Back in the day, buyers would get in their cars and drive around for hours on end to locate a property. With the advent of the internet, Multiple Listing Services (MLS’s) and real estate websites are the ultimate source of property information. However, MLS sites are available only to the real estate agents who subscribe to them. Having your home listed by a real estate agent vastly increases your visibility in the marketplace. Statistically, 89% of homes which are sold each year are listed by a real estate agent via an MLS.
What if a buyer approaches me directly?
If your home is listed and a buyer contacts you directly, please refer them to me. I would be happy to make arrangements to show them your home, and to help them in preparing an offer for our review; or I can them put them in the hands of a good agent who can help them prepare an offer.
I’m torn between two agents. Can more than one agent list my property?
Possibly. If both agents are amenable to a shared listing, your property could be “co-listed” by two agents.
What if I am unhappy with my agent?
Let your agent know that you’re unhappy, and the reasons why. It may be a simple misunderstanding that can be corrected. If the issues are more substantial, or the relationship simply isn’t the right “fit”, tell the agent you no longer wish to work with them and ask for your listing to be released.
Don’t let a less-than-perfect relationship keep you from finding another agent to work with. Buying and selling real estate are complex transactions, and it’s important that you have an agent to represent your interests.
What happens when I receive an offer on my home?
Once a buyer is interested in making an offer on your home, the buyer’s agent will prepare a “purchase and sales agreement”, or real estate contract. This written document will outline all the terms and conditions of the sale, as proposed by the buyer.
Most states, including Washington, have a very “buyer-friendly” contract process; meaning the buyer will have several opportunities to terminate the sale prior to closing. However, once the seller signs the contract, they typically do not have an opportunity to terminate the transaction.
For this reason, it is critical that you clearly understand – and are in agreement with – the final terms of the contract.
Once an offer is written, the buyer’s agent (also called the “selling agent”) will deliver this offer to your agent (the “listing agent”). Some selling agents prefer to present their offer in person; others will deliver it via email or fax. Regardless of how the offer is received, you and your listing agent need to review the contract. Typically, your time limit for response is anywhere from several hours to several days; your agent can advise you as to whether the allotted time is reasonable for your market.
I will provide you with an up-to-the-minute market analysis to reveal where your home fits with the state of its particular marketplace at the time you’re responding to the offer. This will help you to have confidence in the offer response decision you’re making.
When reviewing the offer, some of the key points you’ll want to consider are:
- Purchase price
- Down payment amount / percentage
- Type of loan (conventional, FHA, VA)
- Closing cost requests
- Inspection clauses
- Hazardous materials (asbestos, lead-based paint)
- Sewer line
- Septic / drainfield
- Title reviews
- Choice of escrow agent
- Closing date
- Buyer’s possession date
As a seller, you have three options upon receipt of the offer.
- Accept the offer as written.
- Counter the offer on those terms and conditions that are not acceptable to you.
- Do not respond to the offer.
Acceptance of the offer—as written—puts buyer and seller in a position of “mutual acceptance”, and is the trigger for counting the days for the purposes of deadlines.
A counteroffer from the seller to the buyer allows the buyer a specified period of time to accept the seller’s offer, after which point the offer expires with no contractual obligation on the part of either the buyer or the seller. Upon receipt of a counteroffer from the seller, a buyer has the same options as those available to the seller when reviewing the original offer – acceptance of the offer as written, a counteroffer to the other party, or a decision not to respond to the offer. The number of counteroffers made between buyer and seller are limited only by the interest of the parties to continue to negotiate toward an agreement.
Not responding at all to an offer is always an option, though rarely used. Typically, no response indicates a feeling on the seller’s part that the offer is simply too low in price or too unacceptable on some other term to merit attention.
Your agent should provide guidance as you review offers, and can assist you in determining if the terms and conditions offered are appropriate for your marketplace. Ultimately, with your agent’s input, you will be in a position to determine the response to the buyer that will get your home sold on mutually agreeable terms.
Once we have a mutually agreed-upon offer, I will provide you with a “pending-to-close” calendar. This document will detail all the activities to occur between the time we accept the offer, and the time the buyers take possession of your home. It’s an easy to reference, a visual tool to help us all stay on track.
I will also touch base with you on a regular basis by phone or email to remind you of upcoming deadlines which require your action and contract activities that you should be aware of.