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The First Question You Should Ask Your Listing Agent

What is the most important thing a seller should look for when hiring a real estate agent to sell their house? We are often asked this question. Is it the size of the company they are licensed with? Is it their marketing program? Their years experience in the business? Should you choose the agent who suggests the highest listing price?

There are many things that should be taken into consideration when hiring someone and giving them the responsibility for selling your home. In our opinion, the most important question you can ask a potential listing agent is a simple one:

Do you truly believe that now is a good time to buy a home?

Why should this matter when hiring someone to SELL your home? Buyers are nervous about purchasing right now. They want to know they are making an intelligent choice. We believe, especially in today’s market, you need to hire someone who realizes that this is one of the best times in American real estate history to buy. If an agent doesn’t believe that, how will they be able to convince a potential buyer to buy your home?

When interviewing a real estate professional, ask them to explain why purchasing a home makes sense today. They should be able to explain it simply and effectively. See how many of the following facts (which should be shared with every potential purchaser) the agent knows:

The Wall Street Journal last week stated:

“With home sales starting to improve, and with prices now possibly forming a bottom, real estate could well be the asset class that represents the best low-risk buying opportunity out there today.”

Donald Trump was just quoted saying:

“I’m pretty sure this is a great time to go out and buy a house. And if you do, in 10 years you’re going to look back and say, ‘You know, I‘m glad I listened to Donald Trump’.”

John Paulson, a multibillionaire hedge fund operator and the investment genius who made a killing betting against housing a few years ago, is now bullish on residential real estate market. He recently said:

“If you don’t own a home, buy one. If you own one home, buy another one. If you own two homes, buy a third. And, lend your relatives the money to buy a home.”

A recent Gallup Poll showed that 67% of American’s think that now is a ‘good time’ to buy a home. The Gallup Organization went on to say:

“Overall, there is good reason for most Americans to think now is a good time to buy a house. Interest rates remain near historic lows. Home prices are down sharply, providing many incredible buys.”

The iconic financial paper in this country, the country’s most famous real estate investor, the most successful prognosticator of the housing market and 2/3 of all Americans say now is the time to buy a home. Shouldn’t your agent agree?

Bottom Line

Selling is nothing more than the transference of conviction. How can agents transfer that conviction if they themselves are not convinced? Find a listing agent who truly believes that someone should buy your home – TODAY! This is the single most important thing you should look for in a potential listing agent.

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14 replies
  1. Ken Baris
    Ken Baris says:

    ala Donald Trumps quote in your blog entry – Donald Trump was just quoted saying:

    “I’m pretty sure this is a great time to go out and buy a house. And if you do, in 10 years you’re going to look back and say, ‘You know, I‘m glad I listened to Donald Trump’.”

    We are way ahead on this one: Here is a blog entry saying very much the same thing but was posted by us 2/19/2009. We believe it is correct:

    From Ken Baris
    Now is the time!
    February 19th, 2009 7:19 AM
    People who buy real estate today will be seen as a genius in ten years. Yes -we may not be at the bottom of the market. Yes – interest rates will change. Yes – if you buy today and want to sell in a year, it could be a problem.

    BUT…in ten years and probably less, this time in the economy will be over, history will repeat itself and values will be significantly up!

  2. Jason Finn
    Jason Finn says:

    With regards to “If an agent doesn’t believe that, how will they be able to convince a potential buyer to buy your home?”, how does anyone CONVINCE another person to buy a specific home? Have you ever tried it?

    The way to convince a buyer to buy “your home” is to make it the nicest product they can afford in their price range – that means pricing to compete, and improving/staging the home so that it shows to its fullest potential.

    A listing agent cannot point out a view or a cabinet finish or a counter top quality that will impact a buyers emotional reaction to a home. In fact, 100% of home buyers I’ve surveyed (anecdotal, I realize) have indicated that they cannot stand hearing from the listing agent at all – “just let me look at the home and draw my own conclusions.”

    The listing agent’s job is to educate the home sellers to make their home market-ready, to price it competitively, to negotiate with skill and knowledge (while removing as much emotion as possible), and to ensure that the contract gets to the closing table by staying on top of lenders, post-inspection negotiation, attorneys, and so on….

    In my opinion, any conversation between the listing agent and the home buyers should be about the weather, anything related to the transaction would be inappropriate. The listing agent represents the seller, most conversations with the buyer fall into the categories of inappropriate, based on their obligation to the seller, or misleading, attempting to educate the buyer with the sellers actual best interests in mind.

  3. Manny
    Manny says:

    It was the “worst of times and the best of times” is another historic quote. I do believe that it doesn’t take much to realize that in bad times the smart folks get rich. This is the absolutely best time to buy and we won’t see another time like for at least 30 to 40 years.

  4. Steve Harney
    Steve Harney says:


    Great points, Jason! However, there are many situations when a listing agent might have a conversation with a buyer. Here are a couple:
    1.) At an Open House on a listing, a buyer says he likes the house but is not sure now is the time to buy. Wouldn’t you talk to that buyer?
    2.) Same scenario on an incoming call on an ad for the house. Wouldn’t you talk to the buyer?
    3.) On a presentation of an offer to purchase, the selling agent tells you the buyer wants to wait because he knows prices are still falling. Wouldn’t you coach the agent on why it might not make sense for any buyer to wait in today’s market? The agent then would use your words in coaching the buyer.

    I can think of dozens of other situations. Your fiduciary responsibility to one party in a transaction does not prevent you from giving good, honest advice to the other side of the transaction.


  5. Jason Finn
    Jason Finn says:

    Steve, thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments. Much appreciated!

    I think we are in agreement – and its hard to debate the merits of hiring a knowledgeable and articulate listing agent.

    And, of course, receiving a call from an unrepresented potential buyer is an opportunity to get them in the door to let them fall in love with the home on their own. And if they don’t love it, listing agents are usually buyer’s agent too – just hopefully not on the same transaction (that’s my opinion).

    I shared my thoughts on your post, and our “comment” exchange on my blog. Its called “We Agree – Now is a Great Time to Buy Real Estate – So What Are Steve Harney and I Debating About?”. I hope you’ll take a look.

  6. David Gemme
    David Gemme says:

    This is the best time in a decade to buy a home. Interest rates are low, inflation hasnt kicked in yet, and Prices are low, and I could list about 10 more. The things I love about real estate are: It is Finite-you can touch it, look at it and live in it. It is predictiable- meaning you can stratedgize around it knowing when to buy and sell and at what price, and it is a place where people place emotions, build dreams, ideas, memories and create legacies. It is so much more than a spread sheet, but Its our responsibility to have the ability to understand all of this, and help those who need it to the best of our abilities–David Gemme-Realtor

  7. brad
    brad says:

    David, this is the best time in a decade to buy a home? You are so far off base, If i bought a home in 2002 or 2003 and sold it a year or 2 later, I made a killing. If I bought a home today and tried selling it a year or two from now, I’d get killed. Just because you can purchase a home 20% 30% 40% or even 50% less than at the peak of the market isn’t an indication that it’s a great investment, unless of course you can guarantee us that it’s going to appreciate – even in the next 5 years. Buyers are paying the new retail. Just because the price tanked doesn’t mean that the price will go back to where it was, because it won’t. Bankers won’t let it happen, the economy isn’t letting it happen, and if it does, then we’ll have another disaster.


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