This doesn’t really fit here, but I’m starting to think about selling my house. Not right away, but perhaps as early as next spring, or the spring after. Today I came across an article on “7 Questions to Ask Before Signing A Listing Agreement” by Bob Bruss. Bruss has a number of real estate reports available on his web site.

The first rule is interview at least agents before you pick one. Find the three by talking to friends, neighbors, and business associates. The seven questions are:

  1. How much can you get for my home? An agent should provide comparables and you should keep a copy of them to compare between agents.
  2. What are the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your 5 most recent sellers? How many days on the market did it take you to sell? You should call all the references and ask if there were any issues with the agent.
  3. How long have you been selling homes in this area? Do you sell full time? What are your certifications and designations? Where do you live? This is just good background. You may find a great agent who is part-time, but you need to know in order to compare.
  4. What is your minimum listing term? Go for 90 days. If they insist on longer get an unconditional cancel clause for after 90 days. If they say “the average listing in your area is 123 days…” tell them you’re not paying thousands of dollars in commission for an “average” agent.
  5. What is your marketing plan for my home? All agents should have a good plan kit that includes MLS, weekday tour for agents, weekend open house 1x-2x per month, newspaper ads 1x per week, website listings, brochures (ask to see samples)
  6. How many listings do you have now? What are their addresses? Do you have an office assistant? related questions:
    • what day(s) of the week do you take off?
    • who covers for you when you are gone?
    • how promptly do you return phone calls and e-mails?
    • will I be dealing with you or an assistant?
    • are you planning any vacations during the next three months?
  7. What sales commission do you charge for a listing like mine? You pretty much have to pay to play. FSBOs are a lot of work and no matter what you have to pay the buyer’s agent.

I really hate moving. I’ve been in this house for 12 years, but it’s time to start planning the exit strategy. My home is in a subdivision and, while it’s nice, it’s not one that is going to stay nice forever. By the time I leave it will be nearly 15 years old and many of the houses will be starting to show their age. Life is not like the old days, where your folks lived in the same house for decades. I’ll be moving on. Maybe it will be a good time to get rid of much of my accumulated junk.