DEAR BERNICE: We have a rental house we inherited from my Mom in 2007. Our tenants just gave us notice. The market has improved enough that we would like to sell the house. We plan to fix it up and list it after the first of the year. We see a lot of advertising for a "team" in our area that seems to do a lot of business. There is another agent who seems to get her listings sold fairly quickly. Which would be better for us? We like the idea of having a group of agents working to sell our property. Can an individual agent do as good of a job as a team? –Lucille J.

DEAR LUCILLE: There’s not a simple "yes" or "no" answer to your question. Most properties sell through other agents using the multiple listing service. Nevertheless, whomever you select as your listing agent must have a strong marketing plan. The first step in determining who will is the best choice to represent you is to interview each agent you are considering. Next, ask them for their marketing plans, including how they will use the Web to market your property.

When a single agent represents you, your agent will handle your transaction from start to finish. In many cases, he or she will become the equivalent of a permanent houseguest. When you hire a team, different people handle different aspects of the transaction. In most real estate teams, a lead agent has one or more people working under his or her supervision to facilitate marketing and close the transaction.

The team members may be licensed or unlicensed. Many teams consist of a licensed agent working with one or two unlicensed administrative assistants. Others may have 20 or more members acting as a company within a larger parent company. Thus, the first question you must answer is: Which model fits you the best? Do you want the attention of a single person or the less personal team approach?

In general, teams do more business than individual agents do. The lead agent usually will meet with you at the listing appointment. Team leaders normally concentrate on generating and converting leads into signed listings or purchase contracts. Once you sign the listing, a different team member may handle the marketing and negotiations. The advantage of this approach is you have people who specialize in particular aspects of the transaction, such as marketing or handling transaction problems. The downside is you don’t have the same opportunity to form a close personal connection with a single agent who represents your interests.

If you’re considering hiring a team, there are some additional drawbacks. For example, you may like one person on the team and dislike one of the other team members. It’s also important to determine whether the agent is an employee.

Most agents, whether they work individually or as a team, are independent contractors. That means they can determine how they will market your property. If an agent is an employee, however, she may have to follow a preset marketing program dictated by her company.

Furthermore, you may have to work with the agent assigned to you rather than one you select. …CONTINUED

Some limited-service companies also use the team approach to keep costs down. In this model, certain agents handle nothing but incoming calls. Others handle listing presentations or buyers exclusively. Once the property is under contract, a different group may handle the transaction’s closing. In some cases, the seller may handle the showings and the open houses.

Once your property is under contract, it’s common for both individual agents and teams to use a transaction coordinator. Many offices provide this service to their agents for a fee. (The agent pays this fee, not you.) In this model, the transaction coordinator handles the routine aspects of closing the transaction. If there is a serious problem, the agent generally steps in to handle it.

As you interview the agents, check your emotional response to each one. They all may be competent, but do you feel comfortable having them in your home often? Do you feel comfortable sharing personal information? It’s extremely important to hire someone you trust.

No matter how much you like an individual agent or a team, there’s an old adage that says, "Inspect what you expect." Ask each agent you interview for references. Contact each reference. Search the agent or the team’s name on the Web to see what is posted about them.

Also, it’s important that whoever you hire has a strong Web presence. Does the agent/team have a strong Web site focused on your area? Are they on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? What services are they offering in terms of marketing your home? What differentiates them? Ultimately, the only way you can evaluate this is through an interview and a careful checking of the agent’s credentials. Good luck on getting your mother’s house sold.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at and find her on Twitter: @bross.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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