"Talk with the rest,
then list with the best."
Questions to Ask the Agents You Interview
If you're like most people
preparing to list a house for sale, you plan to "interview" three or
more real estate agents. Here are ten questions
to consider asking the agents you speak with.
You may want to preface the questions this way:
"A relative of ours, who is a real estate agent in a different area, has
emailed us a list of ten questions she suggests we ask all agents we interview.
We hope that's OK with you." That usually makes most people feel more
comfortable reading the questions off the list.
You might want to print out the questions only on a piece of paper and
make one copy to use for each agent you are interviewing. Put the
agent's name at the top of the page and note down the agent's answers
after each question. Any agent who wants to list your house is not going to
refuse to answer questions.
1. How much are you going to
charge me for listing my house? Here's a quick point of reference: For a house with a
market value of $1M (one million dollars), now at the low end for many Silicon
Valley Area neighborhoods, a one-percent savings in listing commission is
equivalent to 10,000 after-tax dollars. Pacific Century Realty is the only true
full-service brokerage in the area offering listing commissions as low as one
percent (1%).* Think about how long it takes you to earn ten thousand after-tax
dollars. Think carefully about giving up any more than you have to.
2. How much will you charge me if
you also end up representing the buyer(s)? Pacific Century Realty's fee for
representing the buyer may be as low as only 1%.* And
we have a special program to legitimately increase the likelihood that we do
represent the buyer. Do the math: 1% + 1%, for a total of 2% …
or a traditional
total commission of 5 or 6%. The traditional brokerages can't afford to compete
with us, while the discount alternatives available offer nowhere near the
quality or level of service we do.
3. Can you show me testimonials
from satisfied customers? Testimonials and references speak volumes about the
quality of service a brokerage provides. Third-party endorsements
naturally mean more than what we say about ourselves. Most agents typically
have no more than a handful of tenuously credible testimonials on their websites,
typically anonymous, using initials only. We have yet to see another company
with as many testimonials
posted to its website as Pacific Century Realty. We can show you more than a
hundred if you want to see them! (You can also find a growing number of reviews
online at Yelp.)
4. Can you show me references from
other real estate professionals, outside your company? Remember that a large part of
your listing agent's success in finding the best buyer for your house will depend
on his or her relationships with other area real estate agents and his or her
standing in the real estate community. Agents representing buyers frequently
have choices, in terms of recommendations they can make to their clients ...
and these agents naturally prefer doing business with people they trust and
respect. It's not always the highest offer that is recommended by the listing
agent to the seller(s).
5. Will I be working directly with
you (the presenting agent) or will you be handing me off to
lower-level assistants? Many
so-called top producers do not plan to have much contact with you after you
have signed the listing agreement. And they need to get that "full" commission, in
order to pay all the members of their staff. At Pacific Century Realty, we
cater to clients who want the benefit of working directly with an experienced
agent, with an effective cost-cutting system that passes the savings along to
6. Do you work evenings, weekends
and holidays or are you at least available (on call) by telephone or email during those times? Many "successful"
agents consider it an intrusion into their personal lives if clients call them
outside traditional business hours. At Pacific Century Realty, we realize that
people who have job responsibilities during business hours will NEED to communicate
at other times. We find the opportunity to take time off during regular
business hours, instead, or when we recess entirely, for vacation.
7. If there is an unexpected
change in my circumstances and I want to terminate the listing before the
contractual expiration date—without selling—will you allow me to do
that, without penalty? Any adult knows from experience that life sometimes throws
us "curve balls." It's reassuring
to know that if that should happen during your listing period, before you have
entered into a contract to sell, that your listing agent and brokerage will do
for you what they would want to see done for a member of their own family
caught in the same situation: release them from the obligation, without
imposing any penalty. This has on rare occasion happened with clients in the
past. And when it did, we had no hesitation about doing for them what we would
want done for ourselves in the same scenario—releasing them without
penalty from the agreement.
many times have clients either canceled or asked to cancel a listing with you,
because they were dissatisfied with your services? Here's a little secret that most
self-proclaimed "top producers" who use high-pressure tactics do not
want you to know: they get a lot of cancellations, on both sides (buyers and
sellers). Brow-beating and bullying only go so far. A certain number of people
are going to respond by walking away, as soon as they feel they
have the opportunity. You are not guaranteed an honest answer to the
question, of course ... but the length of the pause that comes before the
answer and the accompanying facial expression(s) may be revealing.
9. Which languages other than English can you offer, to
capture interest from among non-English speaking prospects? It's well-known that the single
largest demographic of active buyers and sellers in the market today speak
Chinese. Most of them are immigrants, more comfortable in their native language
than English (as is also the case with many of the agents representing them!). At
Pacific Century Realty, we speak their language (Cantonese and Mandarin, both
major dialects, in addition to Vietnamese). That's an important additional edge
for reeling in buyers for your property.
10. Do you have a system for
capturing the name and phone number of everyone who calls to inquire about a
What happens to most prospects who express an interest in a listing? They grab
a flyer from either inside the house or the literature box outside ... and then
they disappear. At Pacific Century Realty, we harness a unique technology that
captures the name and phone number of everyone who calls to inquire about a
listing (we don't attach a literature box to the yard sign),
even if the number is Caller ID "blocked." Why is that important?
Because it makes it possible for us to (legitimately) follow up with a phone
call to each and everyone who has expressed an interest in the property. Real estate sales is very much a "numbers game."
The more interested prospects you can engage in conversation about the
property, the more likely you are to find a buyer who will offer a price that
the seller will be happy with.
10 Bonus Questions
You also have the option of sending these questions to agents by email. That way, you will save yourself
the time and trouble of meeting with the ones who are unwilling or unable to
provide satisfactory answers.
1. Will you create a free dedicated property address Website (123MainStreet.com), to promote my property? Nowadays, a
dedicated single-property address Website is an important tool for marketing a
listing, a tool that can often make a critical difference. It should not just
be a URL that redirects to an agent's Website. And, ideally, it should be more
than just images with captions, which is typical. The copy (text) should be
professionally written, in a way that readily captures a reader's interest and
attention. It should concisely communicate how the property is special and what
makes it desirable. The writer must understand and reach out to the target
audience for that particular property. And there should be as many attractive
photos as possible. Here are six examples of the Websites we’ve created:
10903CanyonVistaDr.com (Cupertino), 1598MortonAve.com
(Los Altos), 2006CarolAve.com (Mountain
Alto), 2345RupertDr.com (San Jose) & 498VineAve.com
2. Will you use a lighted/illuminated yard sign, so it will stand out and be
clearly seen after dusk (unlike all the others in the vicinity, if appropriate)? Why should your yard sign only be
seen during daylight hours? Think how much more effective it would be if it
were highly visible after dusk, especially when all the other yard signs are
not. The traditional full-commission brokerages cannot offer this new
technology, because they all delegate their yard sign placement to sign-post
companies that do not want to bother with lighting. At Pacific Century Realty,
we care too much about our signage to hand off the job to someone else, who is
rushing to finish the work as quickly as possible—and will not do any
maintenance (sometimes batteries need to be replaced).
3. Will you utilize an online disclosure packet system, on my
dedicated property address Website, to make it easy for prospective buyers and
their agents to prepare offers on my property (so they can obtain disclosure
documents immediately, without having to contact you first)? Put yourself in the place of a buyers' agent who is pressed for
time to offer on a property. All other things being equal, will you be inclined
to recommend that your buyers pursue an interest in the listing that makes your
job easier, enabling you to download all the documents instantly, regardless of
time of day, as opposed to ones that oblige you to play "phone tag" with
the listing agent—or wait for the agent to respond to your email?
4. Do you utilize DocuSign or another
digital esigning system that would allow me to review
and sign documents at my convenience through email, rather than meeting with
you in person to put ink to paper? So much time and energy can be saved by signing documents
digitally that you probably do not want to be obliged to arrange in-person
meetings with your agent, regardless of how much you may happen to like that
person. Make sure your agent is going to use the benefits of new technology in
your favor—and is experienced at doing so.
5. Will you give me a free $25,000 Seller Protection Plan (insurance policy), to protect me for six months from claims
made against me by buyers? Historically, most claims by buyers against
sellers will be made during the first six months following the purchase.
Wouldn't it be nice if you had $25,000 of protection in the event that a buyer
comes after you with a claim of some sort? At Pacific Century, we think so. So
we have arranged this coverage for each and every listing client,
automatically.* Another example of how we actually
provide MORE for LESS.
6. Does the company you use for environmental disclosure reports (beyond the forms that sellers are
required to complete themselves) include
a C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) Report, at no additional
charge? As a seller, any assurances that you can offer a buyer with regard
to your property tend to work to your advantage. A C.L.U.E. report assures
buyers when there have been no homeowner’s insurance claims on a property. They know
they will not have problems purchasing homeowner's insurance at reasonable
rates. Typically, there is an additional cost for such a report. With our
disclosure report partner, you get it at no additional charge.
7. Will that company accept payment through
escrow, at no additional charge and will it waive payment entirely, in the
event that my property is not sold? We make it our business to ferret out for all facets of
your transaction service providers who offer the highest level of service on
the most favorable terms. It is ironic but it is true: our clients actually get
MORE for LESS.
8. Will that company provide me with a new updated complete set of
reports at no additional charge, if we need to re-open escrow at a later time,
because the original escrow did not work out? Peace of mind. Protection.
"Risk reversal." Are you beginning to see
the pattern here? At Pacific Century Realty, it is NOT "business as
9. Do you have an online system
that allows me to see survey feedback in the form of "picture graphs"
at any time, from agents who have shown the house? One of the main frustrations
encountered by sellers is the frustration of not knowing how their property is
being perceived. We have solved this problem, with a special Internet-based feedback
system, that shows you, in real time, how people visiting your house are
responding to it. It's all presented in easy-to-understand "picture
graph" format, for you to access any time you want to log in and monitor
10. Do you have a system for
recording information on every agent who shows a house, so that you can send
updates to all of them at the same time, with the push of a button? A good listing typically attracts
dozens of "showing agents." Some of them leave their cards. Others
don't. Either way, at Pacific Century Realty, we have an advanced system for
capturing and inputting all their information into a special database just for
your property. Any updates can be immediately broadcast to all showing agents,
with just the push of a button. When we meet, we can give you a demonstration.
Angie’s List Questions
The consumer review website
Angie’s List (www.angieslist.com)
recommends the following five questions, which are for the most part included
in the lists above:
1. How long have you been in business?
2. Do you have references?
3. What are your fees?
4. What is your marketing strategy for listing my home?
5. How much advance review time and explanation will you give me with important
documentation during the process?*
*The “correct” answer to the fifth question is, “As
much time as you need!”
If you find another brokerage that gives you
satisfactory answers to all the questions above, go ahead and list with that
company! If not, drop us a line to let us know that you've already "talked
with the rest" and are ready to "list with the best" (if
together, we decide that we're a good fit, that is).
Finally, a word to the wise:
Many sellers make the mistake of
listing their house with the agent who quotes them the highest estimate of
value for their property ... as if quoting that figure is somehow going to
translate into a sale for that same amount. Keep in mind that real estate
agents do not set property values. The free market sets property values.
To be sure, an agent who is
on-the-ball, working hard and working smart, tends to
procure better deals for clients. But that's a different matter.
For most properties, market
value—or at least a range of market value—is relatively easy to
The only time it would be a good idea to list your property with the
agent who inflates its value for the purpose of pleasing you, to get the
listing, is if that agent is going to be the one to actually buy the property.
"Talk with the rest, then
list with the best." Email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org, for your free listing consultation,
after you have familiarized yourself with our system and read our reviews on Yelp.
*Terms and conditions apply.
The highest level of discounts by necessity applies only to properties within a
certain price range.
Inquire for details in advance of your transaction. Offers
subject to change or cancellation without further notice.
Copyright © Pacific Century