How to Choose a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home.


A friend recently told me the story of an elderly couple who sold their 2,700-sq. ft. home through a “friendly real estate agent” on the same day the property was listed.  The home sold for $279,000 firm, which was the asking price.  The kicker is that similar homes in the neighbourhood sold for upwards of $100,000 more.  This reminded me of elderly neighbours of mine who sold their home last year.  The home was on a 100-ft. Lake Ontario waterfront lot and it sold the day they listed it for $259,000.  Similar homes on our street would sell for substantially more than that, if they ever came on the market.

In each case the people selling their home were befriended by a real estate agent that gained their trust and then took advantage of the relationship.  Had the couple who sold for $279,000 been more circumspect, they could have sold their home for a $100,000 more.  God knows what my neighbours would have gotten for theirs.  I do know that another real estate agent had an offer to present for over $400,000 and the listing agent told him the offer couldn’t be presented until the first offer was dealt with.

This is a phenomenon that rears its ugly head periodically and tends to give all real estate agents a bad name.  It should be understood that these practices are the exception, not the rule, as the majority of real estate agents are honest and ethical.  However, an unscrupulous one comes along from time to time who will attempt to profit at your expense.  Here are a few tips to avoid being taken for a ride.

  1. Always interview more than one agent when contemplating listing your home.  It’s nice to like the person that you’re dealing with.  But, when selling an asset as valuable as your home, make sure that you get full value.  The best way to do this is to get a number of real estate people to evaluate your home. 

  2. Check the record.  In order to get an idea what your home is actually worth, it makes good sense to check the listings for similar homes in your neighbourhood.  This is a good independent method of verifying what the agents are telling you about the value of your home.

  3. Get references. When you short-list real estate agents, ask for references, both from people whose homes they have sold, as well as from people who have purchased homes from them.  It will become fairly clear who is the best bet, by what people are saying about them.

  4. Get it in writing.  Don’t take anyone’s word for anything.  Make absolutely sure that whatever deal a real estate person wants to make with you, you have on paper, so that there is no confusion as to what is supposed to happen and how.

  5. Don’t fall for old tricks.  Often a real estate person will come to your door, to say that they have an interested buyer if you give them the listing for your home.  This could be indicative that they want to purchase your home through a proxy purchaser and then flip it for a substantial profit. 

  6. Deal with your head, not with your heart.  We all prefer to deal with individuals that we like.  However, don’t settle on a real estate agent, just because he or she reminds you of one of your kids.  Be hard nosed and settle for the one that you are sure can get you the best deal for your home. It’s also helpful to discuss the sale of your home with family, who are people that have a vested interest in your getting the most out of it.

If you take these tips to heart, you will minimize the chances of encountering a real estate agent scam. It’s sad that in this day and age we have to take such precautions, but then again, it only makes good business sense.  After all, for most people their home is their most valuable asset.


Written by Klaus Rohrich on Saturday, 20 March 2010


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