Home sellers have a full array of options available to them when they list their home for sale. They can pay a minimal fee to have their home listed on the Multiple Listing Service, and do the rest themselves. Or they can pay 5 percent to 6 percent of the sale price to a full service broker who handles all aspects of the marketing and sale of the home. In other words, you get what you pay for, or you should. Here’s what you should expect if you opt for full service brokerage.

Before you even list your home for sale, your agent should provide you with a marketing proposal and comparative market analysis. The marketing proposal should explain in detail what your agent would do to bring about the successful sale of your property.

Ask to see samples of advertisements. What sort of the brochure or flyer is the agent going to provide? How often will your home be held open?

More and more buyers are using the Internet to help them find a home to buy. For example, in the tech-savvy San Francisco Bay Area, approximately 75 percent of home buyers start their home search on the Internet. So make sure that your agent, or realty company, has made a commitment to advertising their listings on the Internet. In addition, make sure that photos of your home will be included.

The comparative market analysis will give you information about recent sales in the neighborhood of homes similar to yours. Make sure your agent also provides information about homes like yours that are currently being offered for sale. This information is useful in selecting an appropriate list price for your home.

A full service broker should also assist you in preparing your home for sale. To start with, ask your agent to walk through your home with you and point out the most cost effective improvements you can make in order to maximize your profit from the sale.

A good full service agent is a great resource for recommendations of the various trades people you might need to contact in order to get your house ready to market–painters, staging decorators, handymen, contractors, landscapers, etc. Your agent can also recommend which inspections you should order before your home is listed for sale, and give you names of inspectors to call.

Once you’re on the market, your agent will represent you in interactions with other agents, prospective buyers, lenders, inspectors, title people and other interested parties.

HOME SELLER TIP: The key to a winning working relationship is open communication and good rapport. A full service agent should keep you well informed about the marketing activities that are performed on your behalf. This would include such things as reporting to you about how agents responded to your house after the broker’s open house. Also, your agent should update you after public open houses, follow up on showings and let you know how buyers are reacting to your home. This gives you valuable information about the effectiveness of your marketing plan.

Real estate law and practices vary from one area to the next. In some states, attorneys draft the buyer’s purchase contract. In others, like California, real estate agents handle the drafting of purchase contracts using preprinted forms that have been prepared by attorneys. So, in California, a full service agent handles the negotiation of the purchase contract and any problems that arise before closing, including drafting counteroffers and addenda to the contract.

THE CLOSING: A full service agent will also orchestrate all the details that must be complete for the closing to occur.

Dian Hymer is author of “House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide,” Chronicle Books.


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