Selling your home shouldn't just be a matter of luck and a parade of prospective buyers tromping through your living room.
Like the sale of any product, the sale of a home requires a marketing plan, in this case provided by a realtor or real estate agent.
As a first step, you want to make sure that you're selecting an agent who will promote your home aggressively.
At a listing presentation, a prospective agent should not only provide information about himself or herself and the real estate company, the terms of the listing, and a price estimate for the home, but the marketing steps he or she will take.
Profile of Prospects
Ask each agent to profile the most likely buyer or buyers of your home. Your target market may be first-time buyers, retirees or corporate transferees. The type of job the buyer will hold and his or her income should be other areas the agent can pinpoint.
A comprehensive marketing plan should include the following:
--Advertising. The agent should spell out how often your home will be advertised and where.
If your real estate company isn't advertising your home during a given week, make sure it will be advertising a home similar in price or style so it can refer interested buyers to yours.
--Open houses. These are often more effective business generators for the real estate company than a sales tool for a particular home.
Buyers using co-op agents (an agent showing the home other than the one who originally listed the home for sale) don't have to and probably wouldn't want to wait for an open house to see your home. But it couldn't hurt.
Agents' Open House
Before agreeing to an open house, find out what effort the agent will make to get interested buyers there.
One effective technique is to send an information sheet describing the property and announcing the open house to the agents with the most likely clients. Ads should be run in the newspaper and signs should go up the day of the event.
--Multiple Listing Service. The MLS provides a master list of all the homes for sale in a marketplace through its member real estate companies. Agents use this information extensively to match up buyers and sellers.
MLS is perhaps the only benefit a real estate agent can provide that you couldn't get on your own.
Besides immediately placing your home in the system, your agent should update your MLS entry anytime there is any change in the asking price, possession date, items to be sold with the house, or financing possibilities.
--Agent tours. An agent should organize a tour of your home for the other agents in the office soon after you sign the listing.
Beyond that, your agent should try to interest agents from other firms in your home. An open house for agents would be one way.
--Spreading the word. A diligent agent will take it upon himself or herself to inform your neighbors that you are selling, on the chance they know someone who would like to live near them.
--Financing. An agent should be able to describe ways your home could be financed, and the income a buyer would need under several alternatives.
Get the promised marketing plan in writing as an addendum to the listing contract. Then it can also serve as documentation if you feel the agent isn't living up to your understanding.
--Get a commitment for regular progress reports. Once a week would be reasonable, especially if you're moving out of town. The reports should include how many agents took buyers through your home and keep you posted on market conditions.
A conscientious agent should bring each and every purchase offer to your attention, even if you instructed him or her not to bother with those below a certain amount.