However, all agents are not equal, and they're not all the same! How do you choose a listing agent? There's a vast difference between how much experience they may have, as well as their approach to selling your home. Make sure you ask around for who your friends used, and when deciding, do a google search on them. Why did your friends recommend them? What did they do different that others would not?
Do they have their own website, or is it a company prepared one? And when you interview them, ask about that. You may find the agent isn't very tech savvy, which may affect how your home is marketed down the road! The world is centered around technology, and you definitely don't want your home to be left behind!
In your search, have you found their current and past listings? Do they have any listings right now, and if so how many? This will allow you to see how they've marketed other homes. Seasoned agents will have listings, new agents may not.
Be very cautious about hiring a friend. There are a lot of real estate agents out there, so it's not uncommon for a homeowner to know someone who's in the business. The problem with the friend route is that they might not have the necessary experience with listing a home. There are agents who just represent buyers. And it has been said that the best way to lose a friend is to go into business with them. The stress associated with selling a house can be too much even for the best of friends.
We caution about choosing an agent based on who has the highest proposed listing price. Unfortunately it's been shown time and time again that people who initially overprice their homes ultimately get less for the property than they would have received if it were priced properly from the start. If an agent is doing their job, they should be able to show you some concrete evidence supporting their estimate of what your house is worth. Also don't fall for the ploy of letting an agent ask you what you think your house is worth. Make agents tell you first, and press them to show you how they came up with their number.
A word on commissions - when you hire an agent, it's important to consider how much they charge. All brokers independently set their commission rates, and depending on the broker, individual agents also have some latitude in modifying those commissions. But as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. The listing agent has to pay for things like staging, pictures, brochures, the sign and advertising out of their own pocket. The firm they are affiliated with does not pay for that, the agent does. Factor in the agents time and knowledge, and you can see they have expenses and are worth every penny.
Make sure the agent will sell your home and not themselves. Sometimes agents work by the laws of large numbers, and try and get as many listings as possible, with the theory being even if they sell half of them they'll make a decent living. That may work for them, but for you, you don't want to be the 1/2 that doesn't sell.
Additionally, agents may take a listing they know that has a low probability of selling to use as "bait" to get new buyers and/or new listings. Exposure can help the agent get new clients, but it doesn't go anything to get your house sold. Instead they should be addressing the concerns of why that home has a low chance of selling.
With all that being said, don't be afraid to give a new agent a chance. New agents will have their broker's support, and many times will have a mentor in their office that is helping them along the way. What a new agent lacks in experience will definitely be made up in enthusiasm. They're most likely more up to date than the "old timers" with respect to technology and new selling tools (remember the comment about an agents website?)
Most importantly, use an agent you're comfortable with and you feel like you can trust. Selling your house is a big deal on a number of levels, and if not handled in an effective and professional manner, it can cost you not just money, but your sanity as well.
If you ever have any questions about what the listing agent does, or how to hire one, please give Susanne a call, or send her an email. She'll be glad to answer any questions you may have.