How to Find the Right Broker for Selling Your Home

Q: I am planning to sell my condo in Harlem and am looking for a real estate agent who can assist me with the process in this brutal housing market. How do I determine what makes a good agent? Should I look for someone who has sold a unit in my building? Should I ask for references? What other factors should I consider?

A: For most Americans, our most valuable asset is our home, and we realize those gains when we sell. Therefore, it is important to choose the seller wisely.

Funnily enough, home sellers in New York spend an average of three and a half hours researching real estate agents — less time than researching vacation destinations, according to a StreetEasy survey. “This is one of the most critical aspects of selling and even more important in a market like New York City,” said Nick Smith-George, director of buyer and seller programs at StreetEasy.

You want to find an agent who is familiar with your neighborhood, your price level, and the type of building you live in. A real estate agent that focuses on Brooklyn brownstones probably won’t go well with a Harlem condo. So interview several agents, including ones who have already sold in your building. You want to find out how they price, market, stage and sell your home. They should provide you with a pricing strategy based on comparable sales in your area.

Ask for marketing materials for other properties the agent has listed. Find them on the internet and read the descriptions of the listings for quality. Check out the photos and video tours. Ask if they use social media for marketing, and if so, check out their accounts.

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“Examine closely how someone markets housing,” says Pamela D’Arc, associate broker at Compass. “Check out their website. Are the photos great? Nowadays there is no excuse for not having excellent photos.”

Ask for references, and if the agent sold your building, talk to the neighbors who worked with them. Also look for online references. You want a broker who will look after you personally. If you are the leader of a team, will you be the person at your open house? Will they take your calls? Or will you be handed over to an employee? Ask how many offers they currently have and how much time they will devote to yours. “It’s all about a broker making himself available,” Ms. D’Arc said.

You also have to get along with the person you choose and rely on the advice they give you. Or, as Sarah Saltzberg, owner of Bohemia Realty Group in Upper Manhattan, put it, “You want to make sure you’re working with someone who will listen, understand, and genuinely care about you.”

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