How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

Picking the best real estate agentChoosing an agent, also known as a broker or Realtor (they’re all the same thing) is an important decision.  How do you do it?  There are a couple key things you should do.


  1. Get a referral from a friend or family member.  But don’t just ask who they’ve used, and really grill them about the person.  If they get anything other than a glowing review, move on.  People tend to be loyal, so an “average” referral probably means the agent is just so-so.  Ask them specific questions.  “How available was the agent”, “Did he or she know the market well”, “Are they an expert in the area you are looking”, “How did they react in challenging situations”.
  2. Look at the agent’s website.  Is it good?  It better be, since their job is to market your home online.  If they can’t even market themselves online, then you better keep looking.
  3. Search sites such as Zillow.  There are reviews in there.  But keep in mind that a lot of reviews just mean the agent is good at asking their past clients to leave reviews, and maybe they are too busy to be really great for you.
  4. Is your agent independent, or will they just farm you out to a junior associate who works for them?
  5. Do you click with them?  Spend some time with the agent and find out if your personality is a good match for their style.

It’s always a good idea to start with a reputable brand such as RE/MAX, Prudential or Windermere.  Stay away from RedFin as they hire mostly new agents who don’t have a depth of knowledge and will get in over their head really fast.  You also don’t work with a person at RedFin, you work with a group so you really don’t know who your actual agent it.  Once a RedFin agent gains some experience they’ll move on to a better firm where they are more independent.

So for example, if you are looking for Seattle real estate agents, you should ask your friends, and then check out the websites of the person recommended.  If you like what you see, then go on a “test showing” before you commit to them and see if they’re good.  Ask for a response in email and see if they respond quickly, and write clearly.

Here’s a good video on how to pick a great real estate agent.


Top Mistakes When Selling Your House

It’s important to present your home in the best possible light when selling it.  There’s lots of things you should do such as clean, de-clutter, take good pictures, and generally listen to the advice of your realtor or broker.  But let’s break it down and talk about the most common mistakes.  So if you’re selling your house and trying to find the best place to live in Seattle, or you are looking to get out of Salem and find some West Seattle real estate, then make sure you don’t do the following.

Mistake #1 – Too Much Stuff

Moving to SeattleThis is the biggest mistake people make when selling their home.  They just simply have too much stuff in the house.  Too many chairs, too many pictures, too many nicknacks, too many pictures, too many dressers, too many sets of silverware.  You get the point.

Your house needs to look sparse.  It needs to look like a vacation rental that no one lives in.  Take out half of your furniture, remove ALL of your pictures and let a stager put up one or two stylish frames, and remove half of the stuff from your closets and cupboards.

Mistake #2 – Make It Easy to Show

Buyers often can’t plan ahead.  Many of them work from 9 – 5 and can’t take time off.  No matter what you do, make your home available for showings with 30 minutes of notice, and leave the house while they’re looking.  Don’t be there to pester them.  Sound inconvenient?  Well, it is!  Deal with it, or maybe you shouldn’t really be selling your house.  You’ll get a lot less money for your house and sell it slower if you make people set up appointments an hour or more in advance.  And heaven forbid that you tell them they can’t view the house today.  That’s not acceptable and your agent is likely to “fire” you.

Mistake #3 – Smells

People are very sensitive to smells.  Don’t have your house smelling like dogs, like a gym locker room, like mold, musty, like smoke or vinegar.  Make sure it is incredibly fresh with pleasant smells.  Clean your carpets, deep clean your kitchen, and keep windows open for fresh air.  Good smells include fresh baked bread, cookies potpourri and sweet spices.

If you don’t make these mistakes you should have very good success selling your house.  Be sure to use a good Realtor and we always advise you to hire a stager if your house is anything but the cheapest starter home.

Intro to Staging Your Home

This is clutter.  Don't do this.

This is clutter. Don’t do this.

Well, when selling your house you want the potential buyer to feel like it can be their home, not just a house.

For you as a seller that means you need to de-home your house so someone else can visualize themselves in there.  Any good realtor will tell you this, and will encourage you to pay for professional staging.  Pro staging is usually a good idea, but if you house is full of stuff, you can do a lot on your own without paying $1500 for a month of professional staging.  Talk to you real estate agent about this, as it’s often a very good investment.

The steps can be very simple. These are the basics, and then later on we’ll add more articles to show you how to really stage your home beautifully and get top dollar for you home, and do it fast.

  1. De-clutter.  You want you home to feel fairly empty. It shouldn’t feel like you want it to feel when you’re living in there, you want it to be way more empty.  Remove ALL clutter, all trinkets, the home should feel spare, like a model house.  Remove a lot of your furniture and all your nick nacks, as they’re horrible for selling homes.
  2. Clean your house.  Very clean.  Spotless, don’t be disguisting!
  3. De-personalize.  Take down all personal photos, pictures and posters and cards that aren’t generic.  You want to the potential buyer to picture themselves in here.

That’s the start, but we’ll get into making it actually look good later on.  Here’s a good article from HGTV about how to stage your home.

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