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5 Questions to Ask Your Realtor Before Hiring

Scott Gamm

NEW YORK (MainStreet http://www.mainstreet.com/)–Hiring a real estate agent to sell your home is a delicate process. You need an agent who is not only experienced in your neighborhood, but one who will also look after your interests.

Choosing a realtor who doesn't get the job done will cause unnecessary stress and annoyance– not to mention having your home sit on the market with few buyers showing interest.

Before you make the leap and sign with a realtor, here are a few questions you should ask:

Also see: How to Make Your Real Estate Make Sense

1. What's your experience?

You may have heard that the real estate market is cyclical – and it is. Hiring a realtor who has been through the peaks and troughs of the market means he or she knows how to deal with the unexpected. If you're signing a four-month agreement with a realtor, the market could dramatically shift during that time. And you want an agent who can weather any storm that comes about.

2. Can you handle this market?

You may come across an impressive realtor with a strong track record, but if they're not familiar or experienced with your neighborhood, they may not be the best fit.

"Agents you interview should come with a comparative market analysis, which shows comparable sold and available homes in your vicinity and the price of each home," says Judi Desiderio CEO of the Hamptons-based real estate company Town and Country.

How well the realtor articulates what's in the comparative market analysis will give you a sense of how knowledgeable he or she is about your area.

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3. How will you price my home?

Pricing is arguably the most important part of this process. If you're too high, the home is going to be parked on the market for months with no bites. On the flip side, if you're too low, a bidding war will ensue, and you'll be selling yourself short.

"Too many agents will tell sellers what they want to hear just to get the listing - don't be romanced," Desiderio said. "Once you see the what homes have sold for in your area and you see what the competition is, then you can clearly see the range your home should be priced in."

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4. What's your marketing plan?

Posting an ad in the newspaper will likely result in some empty open houses on the weekends. Before you hire a realtor, request a specific list of outlets where the agency plans to market and advertise your home.

"The Internet is the source of half of all buyer leads today, so online exposure is imperative," Desiderio said. "The agency behind the agent should have a marketing team that focuses on all different mediums such as traditional print, Internet, direct mail and in-house clientele lists."

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5. Can I speak to some references?

If a realtor happens to have a poor reputation, you may not find out about it unless you talk to the realtor's past clients.

"Don't just read the testimonials on the realtor's website," says Carolyn McKibbin, director of editorial content at MyMove.com. Instead, ask for names and contact information and follow up with these people,"

Scott Gamm is founder of HelpSaveMyDollars.com and author of the new book MORE MONEY, PLEASE.

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