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Finding a good real estate agent ...

Finding a good real estate agent may be simpler than you think.
Here is the approach we take when friends or clients ask us to help them find an agent out of the area;

1. Start with the understanding that escrow companies will eventually deal with almost every serious agent in their community. They know which agents are honest, knowledgeable and professional. They know which agents remain calm and objective when problems arise. They know which agents do the best job of avoiding problems simply by communicating with their clients and others involved in the transaction. They know which agents put the interests of their clients before their own interests. If the agent has a dark side, they've probably seen or at least heard about that as well. In essence, they know which agents are most likely to have smooth escrows in which the clients are treated well and have a good experience.

2. Contact the manager or sales rep at a local escrow company. Describe to them what you are looking for in an agent. Ask them to give you a few names of real estate agents that meet those criteria. Understand that the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (R.E.S.P.A.) prevents escrow companies from making actual recommendations. However, the escrow companies want smooth escrows as much as you do and will most likely only to give you the names of agents that can deliver the same level of service that you are looking for.

3. Interview agents to see which fits you best.


The interview of agents by sellers may be a little easier than the interview by buyers. Sellers have some objective standards they can use to evaluate which agent will do the best job of marketing their home. After you verify the agents are members of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS);

1. Ask prospective listing agents to show you copies of their current and recent listings. Pay particular attention to their photos and how the homes show along with their descriptions of their listings. The agent can't control the size of your home or the number of bedrooms and baths. They can control how the home shows by helping with staging advice, the quality of their photos and how enticing their remarks are.

Agents should be able to supply a link to their listings that will make viewing their recent listings easy.

2. Ask to see a copy of their marketing elements. Here is a link that will give you an idea of some of the things we do to market our clients' homes.

3. Have the agent prepare a market analysis of your home and explain it to you. Use this as another measure of the agent's knowledge.

Now, it's important to understand some of the dynamics of MLS's. It's the MLS that delivers information about your home to the agents most likely to sell your home. The MLS is the source of information for most of the real estate Internet web sites. Good buyer agents have their clients set up on automatic Email alerts. These alerts let prospective buyers see the photos, a description and details of the home as soon as soon as it's listed for sale. The MLS is the source of these Email alerts. As of this writing, there are 569 members of our MLS. Having your home listed in the MLS along with having great pictures and a great description of your home are the heart and soul of any good marketing effort.

Marekting your home may also include hosting open houses, advertsing in the newspaper, sending out postcards and etc. However, these efforts pale in comparison to the importance the marketing that is done to agents and prospective buyers through the MLS.

In order of importance, being a member of the MLS is an absolute requirement for us. It's a deal breaker for us if the agent isn't a member of the MLS. Additionally, if they are not a member of the local MLS, they have to have the capability of listing the home in the local MLS.

Next in importance is the comparison of the actual listings of the various agents to see which agent provides the best photos and descriptions. This is what agents and prospective buyers see. About 92% of prospective buyers are looking on the Internet. High quality photos and a compelling description will set the home apart from the rest of the homes on the market. If the agent isn't able to put the listings in the local MLS and isn't delivering high quality photos and a compelling description, then the rest of their marketing efforts will likely be ineffective.

If one agent stands out after you've verified your home will be listed in the local MLS and you've compared their current and recent listings, then you may feel comfortable making your decision based on that.. If you're still uncertain, then compare their marketing plans and use that as a tie breaker.

We look at the market analysis with some skepticism. Every seller wants to get the most they can for their home but agents don't set the value of your home - the market does. The agent that gives you the highest estimate of value may just be attempting to "buy the listing." If you think the highest estimate of value is reasonable, then ask the agent with the best marketing plan if they would feel comfortable listing at that high price. After all, whatever your home is worth, the agent that does the best job of marketing your home is the one most likely to get you the highest price.

We don't think sales volume is a good indicator of either quality of service or quality of marketing so we don't ask about that.

This page was last updated on May 18, 2014


What Clients Are Saying

quotes"I have nothing but great things to say about Lloyd and his wife, Tracy. They sold my home in four days and helped us get the home that we wanted. He followed up on all details above and beyond anything I expected. He has my highest recommendation.
- John


Lloyd Leighton Realtors

Address: 1212 Highland Avenue
Yuba City, CA 95991-6115

Phone: (530) 671-6152
Fax: (530) 671-3904

Cal BRE Lic. #00951505