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Working with a Seller's Agent
A Sellerís agent or "listing agent" is a person who represents the interests of the seller in a real estate transaction. The property owner -- or seller -- is the client. The agentís duties to the seller are: undivided loyalty, obedience, diligence, disclosure, confidentiality, accounting and reasonable skill and care.
All duties are fiduciary -- by law, these duties are owed exclusively to the seller Ė- NOT to the buyer.
Choosing a Sellerís Agent
- Visit a few real estate offices. The office itself can tell a lot about the agents you may end up working with. Is the office attractive and organized? Is it easily accessible and open 7 days a week?
- Ask if the agency is a member of a multiple-listing service; that will allow your listing to be seen by all other agents and their buyers.
- Invite the prospective agent to your home for an introductory meeting. Since you will be spending a lot of time with this person, it's a good idea to establish trust and a solid working relationship early on.
- Put together an information sheet that lists your home's features and best qualities, especially those that people might otherwise overlook. Give this to the agent, who, if hired, can use the information to write an attractive listing to help sell your home.
- Interview several prospective agents, and ask each to outline to you in writing what their marketing plan will be for your property. Ask each agent how he or she would establish a price and promote your home. Compare the analyses and get a realistic range for your selling price. Donít fall for overenthusiastic, inflated estimates.
- If you interview an agent and are unsatisfied with his or her plan or personality, just thank the agent for their time, and interview another agent.
- Choose the agent who can offer you the services you need, and with whom you feel comfortable. In general, the more experienced the agent is, the better knowledge and tools theyíll have to sell your house.
- Discuss and be clear about what is expected of you and what is expected of the agent as you begin the joint process of selling your property. Get everything in writing!
The Seller's Agent Role
During the listing process, the Seller's agent:
- Prepares a competitive market analysis of the sellerís home or property
- Develops and implements effective marketing strategies for the seller, including helping to establish asking price, staging, and positioning of the property
- Informs the seller what prices other homes and properties have sold for in the area.
During the negotiating process, the Seller's agent:
- Presents all offers and counsels the seller on what price to accept
- Negotiates exclusively on the sellerís behalf
- Updates the seller on market conditions
- Suggests that the seller contact an attorney for an estimate of closing costs.
During the closing process, the Seller's agent:
- Works closely with the seller to assure a smooth closing
- Monitors all dates, events and requirements for the seller
- Represents the sellerís interest at the buyerís walk-through inspection
- May attend the closing with the seller.
Important Things to know While Working with a Sellerís Agent
When you hire an agent to help you sell a home, the agent must be working for you -- and only for you.
Every real estate agentís commission is negotiable. There is no set percentage or commission to which an agent is entitled. Before signing the contract, you can ask the agent to take a smaller commission than what he or she proposed. The agent is free to accept or decline your offer.
Whatever terms you settle on, be sure you understand exactly what you will be getting in return for that commission. If you negotiate a smaller commission with the agent, he or she may exclude some services that would normally be provided. Make sure you'll be entitled to all services that are most important to you, and be sure these are in writing.
- Before signing with an agent, get answers to all your questions. Be sure you're comfortable with the agent and that you understand and agree with all the terms of your contract agreement.
- IMPORTANT! A contract signed between you and the agent is legal and binding on all parties. There is no cancellation of the contract once it is signed.
- The contract must be in writing, have a beginning date and an ending date, be signed by all parties to the contract, and you must receive a signed copy.
- Don't sign any blank documents or papers that you don't understand. Instead, contact an attorney for assistance.
Your real estate agency may indicate that they also represent a client who might be interested in buying your home. Before proceeding, the agency is obligated to provide both you and the buyer with a "Dual Agency Consent Agreement" form for you to sign. By signing this form, you agree that your agency is free to represent both you AND the buyer in the deal. The form outlines the process to be followed to ensure that the sale is completely fair to both seller and buyer. You don't have to agree to Dual Agency if you feel it's not in your best interest. Don't sign a consent form in advance -- only if and when a buyer being represented by your agency is ready to make an offer.
- If English is your second language and you are unclear about the terms of the contract, have an interpreter assist you before signing.
- If a potential buyer pays for a professional home inspection and it reveals that some repairs must be done, be sure that any home improvement contractor, electrician or plumber that you hire is appropriately registered or licensed by the Department of Consumer Protection as required by law. Ask for a Connecticut license number and then verify the license and its complaint history before the work is started. Learn more about home improvement
- There is no rule that you, the seller, must accept any offer to purchase, nor are there requirements as to which offer or counter-offer you must accept for your property. You have the right not to sell if you so choose, as long as your intent is not to promote discriminatory practices. However, a commission may be payable to your agent if you decide not to sell in the face of a ready, willing and able buyer, depending on the terms of your listing agreement with your agent.
- Once a buyer places a deposit on your property, the funds must be held in a separate escrow account by your agent, and cannot be co-mingled with the agentís other business or personal accounts. The home buyer's check and/or money order should be made payable to the brokerage company -- not to an agent or agency employee.
You have the final word on any decision. Don't let an agent pressure or hurry you into making a choice that you're not sure about.
Content Last Modified on 8/23/2011 11:19:57 AM