Selecting A Listing Agent

10 Questions To Ask A Potential Agent

How do you choose the right Realtor when selling your home?
Should you go with the first Realtor that contacts you?
Should you use the Realtor you met at the Open House?

These are all questions I have gotten from people when they were trying to make the best financial decision with their home sale. It is easy to get caught up with the personality or the dress of a Realtor but you need to make the decision based on asking the right questions and being an informed consumer.

The questions you should ask are not limited to the following but they are a great start. I have listed both the questions and the results you will want for selecting the best Listing Agent in your area.

I have this question listed first as many Agents try and leverage time as the best asset. I would encourage you to keep in mind that someone in the business 3 years may not know as much as someone in for 30 years. However, I have seen many accomplished Realtors that have only been in the business for 5 years and have done more transactions/home sales than those in for over 20 years. So don't rely on time in the business, instead look at transactions and productivity.

The Nellis Group has been serving the DC Metro Area since 1983.

This can be a combination of both the homes they list (represent the seller) and homes they sell (represent the buyer). According to NAR (National Association of Realtors) the average Agent sells less than 15 homes a year. It is important that you use an Agent that does Real Estate everyday. You should automatically rule out any part-time Agents. Real Estate and selling homes is a business and you as a Seller or Buyer deserve full-time service. In the Northern VA/DC marketplace an accomplished Agent will sell over 100 homes a year. If you are looking in small markets you may need to scale that down. At a minimum, your Agent should exceed the average number indicated by NAR.

The Nellis Group sells over 140 homes per year.

Real Estate is not only a full-time job but requires the work of more than one person. Even if you are moving or live in a small market the solo Agents will have partners and others that are part of their team. At The Nellis Group we have a full-time office staff just for our clients, a licensed Appraiser, Interior Designer, Marketin Director, Listings & Feedback Coordinator, Technology Specialist, Licensed Contractors and Licensed Agents all working to make it a smooth transaction for our sellers. There are many moving pieces so when reviewing an Agent ask them to show you their Home Selling System that will enable you to maximize your profits.

See how our Internal Success Team works, and how we can assist you.

his is a great question when interviewing a larger Brokerage or Team. Many times the lead/head Agent will not be working with you because some of the best Agents have licensed Agents that work with them. You need to ask:

  • Who will be my main contact?
  • Who will be contacting other Realtors for feedback?
  • Who will negotiate the contract and what are their qualifications?
  • Who will answer the phone after hours or in case of emergency?

The Nellis Group is not a 9 to 5 real estate team and the partners we work with (such as lenders) are also flexible. Using our Harvard Trained negotiators, we are able to provide you with the best representation for your contract.

You will get a variety of answers to this question. The least accurate estimate for the value of your home is by using Zillow. A step up from that is a CMA (Comparitive Market Analyis). However, an accomplished team will have a licensed appraiser on staff to perform a Qualitative Market Analyis (QMA) that really takes into accounts the hyperlocal markets in your neighborhood.

If you find that there is not access to an Appraiser, compare the CMA options and the negotiating style of the Agents you have interviewed.

The Nellis Group pricing specialist and licensed appraiser provide you with a QMA, that we refresh at key stages of the process to keep up with the ever changing markets.


In the industry when an Agent tells a seller a home is worth 20, 30 or even 50,000 more than all the other Agents it is because they are "buying the listing". The seller gets excited thinking that the Agent can magically get them more for the home. This is a strategy that Agents will use knowing that they can "beat you down" on the listing price after they have you locked in at the unrealistic original sales price. Remember that Agents do not control the market price. The market controls the price.

Absorption Rate is used by accomplished Agents to help the consumer understand where the local market is right now. Is the market going up in price, down or is it stable? Absorption Rate is defined as the number of weeks it will take to sell the current inventory at the current rate of sales. Ask the Agents you are interviewing what the current absorption rate is in your community.

The Nellis Group pricing specialist will utilize the absorption rate to keep your home value estimate at the correct level for the current time.

There is no requirement or percentage that must be charged. You must decide if every Agent is the same. If there is not a quality distinction and every Agent is a commodity then go with the cheapest bidder. However, if you do see value and increased productivity, systems and negotiating skills from a Top Agent look again at their commission structure vs. the competition. Many times you will find that the part-time Realtor or lower production Realtor and Top Agent charge the same commission or within 1 percent.

Be sure to ask WHY they are charging that amount of commission. Ask how much your Listing Agent will keep in their pocket and how much they will pay the buyer's agent. In the majority of real estate transactions the Listing Agent will charge for their commission and the commission for the cooperating broker.

For instance, if the commission is 6% a Listing Agent may keep 3% and pay out 3% for a cooperating broker. In this example, the Listing Agent will keep 3% of the sales price as their commission (and that 3% will get divided even further for expenses and other items)

The Nellis Group utilizes a flexible brokerage fee. Ask your Nellis Group agent about how this works.

NAR (National Association of Realtors) states that over 87% of buyers begin their search for the right home online. The Listing Agent you choose must focus on the 3 pillars of selling in today's online world:

1. Syndication: Where will your home be advertised? What is the aggressive strategy for sending out the information on your home throughout all online vehicles? (Blogging, Custom URL, Multiple Websites, Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist, etc) A top Agent will have a strategy for syndication and be able to tell you where & how your home will be sent to the buying public.

2. Photos: Most buyers click on photos in order to reject a property. They have multiple choices when surfing the web and they want to narrow down their optimal choices. One bad photo can make the difference. A top Agent will have the home staged (preferably with an Interior Designer) prior to taking any photos. Make sure that there is a wide-angle lens for the photos of your home. This will allow the online consumer to really see the rooms especially in a smaller home. The photographer or Agent should be using a digital SLR with a 10-22 MM lens; this will produce the optimal photos for showcasing your home online.

3. Videos & Visual Marketing: A top Agent will be on the cutting edge of video and technology. A true seller video will combine still photos and video inside the home with either a video interview of the seller or a voiceover from the Agent.

You will want to review the Visual Marketing that is delivered by each Agent. How do they present the homes they sell? An Agent that has mastered online lead generation for your home will know how to deliver their materials. Any print document (brochure) should be in an electronic format/booklet because an online lead will not download a pdf or attachment for fear of a computer virus.

The Nellis Group marketing director will help to create the most visually appealing marketing for your home through photo and video.

Have you heard the saying: "There is a Realtor on every block" - well there is and when you include the part-timers you can find an Agent just about anywhere. I remember when I took a trip to North Carolina I met 2 Agents before I even unpacked: the cab driver & hotel attendant both had their licenses. So what makes one Agent different from the others?

Many Agents will hang their hat on Experience (time on the job) as we discussed in question 1 that is not always a good indicator of true real estate experience. Another one is service. Service is important but many times this term can be lip service. What makes their service different? Ask them for examples if they use this as a point of distinction.

Negotiation is very important anytime you are selling a home. Make sure that you feel the Agent you will choose is a good negotiator. If you can not tell- ask them for examples of when they have negotiated for their buyers or sellers.

The Nellis Group has a combination of several free services that come together to create a UNIQUE ADVANTAGE when it comes to both marketing and negotiation, 2 of the 4 reasons a home will sell in today's market.

This gives the Realtor the opportunity to add anything that may help in your decision or highlight their team or company.

The Nellis Group would love to answer all of these questions for you. Please fill out our Seller Survey so we can have all the info we need to have a successful meeting and get started on selling your home!

We hope these questions will assist you in selecting the BEST Realtor for your next Real Estate transaction. We at The Nellis Group actively screen Realtors throughout the country for our clients. If you are moving/relocating and want to make sure you get the BEST Realtor contact The Nellis Group and we will interview the local Realtors for you and get you the right one for your transaction.