I am a freelance copywriter who happens to work with many real estate agents. This is my experience selling and purchasing my third home.
Ironically, I’d just written a blog for a client on this very topic right before we knew we were relocating. I had a wonderful 2500-word primer on selecting the right listing agent.
This time, we know zero real estate agents. Our first buying/selling experience, we worked with a friend. The second time we bargained with our landlord. We couldn’t ask for referrals, since many people couldn’t know we were moving. There was some confidentially issues around the new job announcement.
So how did I go about finding a listing real estate agent?
I like being prepared, so I started searching for potential real estate agents three weeks before his final interview. This was a risk worth taking because he was one of two final candidates: a 50/50 shot of being hired to the job.
First, while walking the dog around the neighborhood, I took note of the signs in the yard, the agent and the brokerage. Homes sell quickly in our area thanks to the competitive location and lower price point.
Second, I did a google search to see if any real estate agents specialized in my particular neighborhood or area. To my surprise, I pulled up nothing. I thought for sure, if not the specific neighborhood, then the greater area (Hamburg, Lexington) would have a real estate agent specializing in it. There was nothing.
Third, I used Zillow. I know, I know, many agents hate Zillow, but it gave me the transaction history for my neighborhood. I wrote down every listing agent for the last two years and noted who sold a property more than once.
I researched a few of these specific names to see what they were all about. What kind of properties did they list? Years of experience? Biographies?
From around seven potential agents, I selected three very different real estate agents:
- One from a sign in our neighborhood currently representing a listing around the corner.
- One who sold the most properties in our area, including our home to us. They operated in a team structure which we’ve never used before.
- One who also sold a few properties in our area and operated as an individual.
All three operated under different brands. Two were big-name companies and one is more of a local brand.
I called each one. This happened:
- Straight away, one did not impress due to lack of confidence. They seemed surprised I called. It took them a bit to wrap their head around what I was saying. My cold call clearly took them off guard. They didn’t ask too many questions about me.
- One responded to my online query in five minutes. No joke. Had a clear script and asked lots of questions. I had a listing agent appointment by end of call at my home.
- One responded 24 hours later by call and text.
I set up meetings with each.
- Two met me at my house. One I met at their brokerage office.
- One walked all through my house.
- Only one of the three actually asked personal questions about me. What do I do? What does my husband do? What’s our past experience with real estate? What do we hope to gain from the sale?
- One talked at me essentially the whole meeting.
I let them all know the circumstances of our sale and our anticipated knowledge date.
How did they respond after our meeting? Well…
- One sent a handwritten thank you note with a gift card for carpet cleaning, something we had talked about in our meeting.
- The other sent a thank you text.
- One said nothing. I never heard from them again.
Two weeks passed. The job interview came and went. Two of the contenders contacted me to see how the interview went and where we were in the process. We did not have any news until Friday, when the job offer was extended.
Now we had to choose?
After looking through all the materials and talking it over with Alan, we felt we couldn’t go wrong with two of three contenders. But as we wanted our home to sell quickly, and we’d never worked with a real estate team before, we opted to give the team approach a go.
In case you’re interested, the steps the winning listing agent took:
- Responded to my first query almost instantly
- Met at my home
- Asked questions about us, our real estate history, and our goals
- Wrote a thank you note
- Followed through twice
- Had a track record of experience in our neighborhood