What are the steps to hire a real estate agent to help sell your house?
There are quite a few steps between choosing the right agent and closing on a property, and this article will help guide you through the process of hiring a realtor.
To hire a real estate agent to sell a home, follow these steps:
- Choose 2-3 agents to interview. [Recommended questions are below.]
- Show agents your home.
- Pick your preferred agent. Review and sign a listing contract with them.
- Set a timeline for selling with your agent.
- Declutter and deep clean the home.
- Stage the home. [Review and follow tips in our Free Staging Guide]
- Get professional photographs.
- House goes live on the MLS for agents and buyers to see.
- Implement a marketing plan.
- Begin showings, review offers, and accept the best one!
STEP 1. INTERVIEW 2-3 REAL ESTATE AGENTS
Reach out to the real estate agents you know from church, the neighborhood, that friends have recommended, or that you’ve noticed on a lot of for sale signs.
Let the agents know you’re thinking about selling and that you’d like to see if you’re a good fit for one another.
Interviewing 2-3 agents can help you avoid signing a contract with a listing agent who doesn’t get back to you, uses poorly lit photographs, doesn’t understand your most important goals, or doesn’t care that your property sits on the market for months on end.
What to Expect When Meeting with a Realtor the First Time
At the first meeting with a realtor about selling a house, expect a laid-back conversation to talk about the property, your goals, and to give a tour of the entire property (including the basement).
What to Ask When You Interview Listing Agents
Here are some questions you could ask when you interview real estate agents about selling your home:
- How much do your services cost?
- What does your 6% [percentage or fee] include?
- Do you use professional photographs or just a smartphone?
- Are professional photographs included or is that an extra fee?
- Are staging services included or is that an extra fee?
- What is your marketing plan to get my home in front of the most potential buyers? (for example, RE/MAX Shine has created systems that reach 15,000+ people online beyond the MLS and big sites like Zillow)
How Do You Choose a Listing Agent?
When you interview real estate agents, you’re looking to see if the agent has what it takes to successfully navigate the market with you and help you get to the closing table. You’re also looking for a realtor you can trust, connect with, and will enjoy working with closely for the next 3 to 6 months (or more!).
Tips to Pick the Best Agent to Sell Your Home
Here are some things to take into consideration when picking the best realtor to help sell your home.
Does the agent:
- Get back to you quickly with good communication
- Prepare an accurate comparative market analysis
- Have experience in your price point and property type
- Plan to be active in preparing the home for sale
- Work with a team of agents and brokers who shine in the real estate world
- Have a plan for marketing your property
- Know the area
- Make you feel comfortable
- Have great reviews
- Use professional photographs for listings (not pictures with their phone)
Related Post: How to Evaluate Your Realtor
STEP 2. SHOW REAL ESTATE AGENTS YOUR HOME
When you give a real estate agent a tour of your home, talk about the following:
- What upgrades have you made to the home (ex. Updated kitchen in 2021, New roof in 2022, new windows in 2023, etc.)
- What are the known issues about the home (ex. Does water get into the basement, is there knob-and-tube wiring in the basement, is there an appliance that doesn’t function properly, etc.)
- What do you plan to keep and what would you like to sell (ex. washer, dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, oven/range, chest freezer, garage fridge, curtains/blinds, security systems, ring doorbells, swimming pool, playground set, etc.)
These are important factors when you and the real estate agent determine how to best price and market your home.
Related Post: Top Paint Colors to Sell a House
Let the realtor know how much you owe on the home mortgage so she can provide a more precise estimate of your net proceeds from the home sale
- Recent mortgage documents showing the amount are useful but not required.
Tell the realtor if you’ve had a pre-listing inspection or if you purchased the home recently and still have the inspection report. These inspection reports can be very helpful when it comes time to list your property for sale.
The realtor may have information to share or she may use the information from the initial meeting and then set up a second time to go over everything.
STEP 3. REVIEW AND SIGN THE LISTING AGREEMENT
After you’ve selected your agent, it’s time to sign a listing agreement.
This means as the property owner, you’re:
- agreeing to list the property with the real estate broker
- authorizing the agent to represent you and find a buyer
- agreeing to pay a fee or commission in exchange for this service
STEP 4. SET A TIMELINE FOR SELLING
Once you have a signed listing agreement, it’s time to set a timeline with the real estate agent.
- When is your target timeline to have the property go live and begin showings?
- What needs to happen before then?
- And when do you hope to close?
Related Post: Best Time to Sell a House in Wisconsin
STEP 5. DECLUTTER AND CLEAN HOUSE
If you haven’t started this already, it’s time to declutter like the sale of your home depends on it!
The goal is for buyers to be able to visualize their future life in your space.
Be sure to download our Free Staging Guide to help you get every room of your house ready for photos and showings!
Related Post: Tips for Downsizing Without Getting Overwhelmed
STEP 6. STAGE HOUSE
While you don’t want too much stuff cluttering the house and taking up space, you also don’t want a home to be completely vacant.
Having a few clean and simple items to help buyers visualize how they might use each space can help homes get better offers.
Related Post: Home Staging Before and After Pictures
STEP 7. GET PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS
Hopefully, you’re choosing to work with a realtor who uses professional photographs.
Our agents at RE/MAX Shine only use one professional photography company that takes amazing house photos. We will not let sellers use subpar photos because professional photographs make a house shine! Great photos catch the eyes of more potential buyers, which increases the likelihood you will receive a great offer. This is everyone’s goal!
Make sure to keep your house clean, decluttered, and show-ready, so house shoppers are not disappointed when they see your home in person.
STEP 8. HOUSE GOES ACTIVE ON MLS
Ok, here’s the fun part. Your house officially gets listed as actively For Sale on your local MLS (multiple listing service). Buyers and realtors can now begin scheduling showings.
Related Post: Glossary of Real Estate Terms – Know the Lingo!
STEP 9. MARKET PROPERTY
In addition to putting a listing on the MLS, realtors can utilize any combination of:
- Free and Paid Ads
- Email Lists
- Door Knocking
- Hosting open house
- Yard Signs
- Clients Looking to Buy
- More than one MLS
to help get the word out and find the right buyer for your home.
STEP 10. ALLOW SHOWINGS, REVIEW OFFERS, AND ACCEPT ONE!
The more showings you allow, the greater chance you have to receive competitive offers.
We’ve seen it work well if sellers can deep clean and stage their house, then leave for a weekend to allow as many showings as possible. Everyone’s hope is you will come home to at least one (or sometimes a dozen) offers to consider.
Your agent will go through each offer and objectively explain to you the pros and cons. Realtors know the ins and outs of offers, contracts, and closings, and they can help you find the best one to accept.
Great agents will even make you a spreadsheet or list to compare the net proceeds and contingencies within each offer. Sometimes the highest offer wins, but sometimes offers without many contingencies can make the easiest path to the closing table.
This is when having a competent and trustworthy agent, one who has your best interest in mind (not just dollar signs), is imperative to have on your side.
Let RE/MAX Shine Help You Sell Your House
Are you interested in working with one of RE/MAX Shine’s professional real estate agents?
We’d be honored to help you!
Contact us and we’ll match you with a realtor who is the right fit for your unique goals.
We’ve helped 670+ families since opening our doors, and we’d love to help you reach your real estate goal too!
Not in Wisconsin? No worries! We can use our network of professional realtors across the United States to help you find a trustworthy agent in your state.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SELLING A HOUSE WITH A REAL ESTATE AGENT
When Should You Contact a Realtor to Sell Your House?
Three months before you’d like to sell is generally a good time to contact a realtor in general, but professional realtors can work with almost any deadline.
Some things to consider when determining when to contact a realtor about selling are:
- Do you need time to do repairs before putting it on the market?
- Do you need to find a new home to buy before selling?
- Do you feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff you need to get rid of?
- Have you started decluttering your house yet?
- Are houses generally selling quickly right now or is the market slower?
- Are you in a rush to sell quickly?
How Much Will Selling With a Realtor Cost?
There are usually two real estate agents involved with selling a home, the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.
- The seller’s agent represents the home seller and is often called the “listing agent.
- The buyer’s agent represents the person or people buying the home.
In Wisconsin, both realtors are typically paid for their services out of the net proceeds when the property sells.
This is often referred to as the agent’s professional service fee or commission. The buyer’s agent and seller’s agent often split the proceeds 50/50, but this is not always the case.
What is the Average Cost to List a Home
This will vary by area, but around Jefferson County in Southern Wisconsin, the minimum price to list a home is about $2,000.
Here’s a general breakdown of the cost of selling a house:
- Professional Photographs – $500
- Staging – $1,500
- Deep Cleaning Services – $200+ depending on size and amount of cleaning needed
- Sign Installation and Removal – varies
This doesn’t include any payment for the many hours spent meeting, researching, preparing, driving, showing, writing offers, negotiating, scheduling and being present for appointments, working with lenders, working with the title company, or managing amendments, contingencies, and deadlines.
So if flat-fee real estate agents are listing a home for a lower fee, it is likely they are not providing full real estate professional services. We see things like dark, unattractive photos, no staging, no comprehensive marketing plan to reach people on social media, and no open houses. Often, reduced-fee agents simply put information on the MLS, a sign in the yard, and hope a buyer shows up to write an offer.
The extra services full-service realtors provide usually bring higher offers and more qualified buyers. In today’s market, listing with a realtor often allows sellers to walk away from the closing table with more money – even after paying a higher service fee to the realtors.
Related Post: FAQs about Selling a House
More Resources for Selling a Home in Wisconsin
- Best Time to Sell a House in Wisconsin
- FREE Guide for Selling a House in Wisconsin
- How to Stage a House While Living In It
- Staging Guide – Make Your Home Shine Before Pictures & Showings
- Top Real Estate Agents in Wisconsin