MelissaZavalaThis post by Melissa Zavala was originally published on the Trulia Pro Blog. Follow Trulia Pro on Twitter: @TruliaPro.

You received the call. It was from a husband and wife in your local neighborhood farm area. They remembered your name from that garage sale you held a few years back, and they want to speak with you about selling their home. So, what do you do? You set the appointment to meet for a listing consultation.

But don’t start calculating your earnings quite yet. There are countless tasks that need to occur between listing and closing in order to earn a commission. In fact, there are several things that need to be done even before you attend your listing appointment or consultation in order to assure that you are fully prepared and can demonstrate a nearly unmatched level of professionalism.

Here are five things that you need to do before you attend the listing appointment:

1. Assure that the person who set the appointment is the rightful owner of the property.

Obtain a property profile through the multiple listing service or from a local title industry professional. On that report you will see the name of the owner(s) of the property. Those individuals (or an individual who has power of attorney) are the only people authorized to sell the home.

It’s also a good idea to confirm that all of the rightful owners are at the appointment or consultation. For example, if a husband and wife own a property, be sure that both will be at the appointment. If a trust or corporation owns a property, you must be certain that the people at the appointment are designated signatories for the trust or corporation. When you verify this information upfront, you ensure that you are taking a listing for a property that will legally make it to closing.

2.Learn about all liens on the property, including but not limited to mortgage liens.

The same property profile or information provided by the title industry professional, which has the owners’ names, will also tell you about the trust deeds (mortgages) and other possible liens that are attached to the property. All of these liens are required to be paid off or reconveyed in order to close on the sale.

If the seller believes that he or she has one mortgage and will be netting significant cash at closing yet the property profile shows three such liens, it would be a good idea to discuss this information at the listing appointment. You then have ample time to make arrangements to research any inaccurate information and have it removed from the public records. Researching the liens before the listing appointment is also a good way to figure out whether the listing you are taking is a traditional sale (where the seller has equity) or a short sale (where the seller owes more to the lenders than the property is worth).

3. Research current and past market activity.

In addition to whatever highfalutin listing presentation you already have prepared to show your prospective clients, make sure that you know about all the recent sales in the area. Understand key differences between those homes and the subject property — which ones have granite countertops, an upstairs laundry room and a walk-in closet, for example. Preview all of the homes in the area that are currently available for sale.

When you present your suggested list price and seller net sheet at the listing appointment, sellers will ask questions about how your price relates to the one of the properties around the corner. You may also find that sellers have used an online valuation system and disagree with your value based on their own findings. Only when you know the market will you be able to handle those seller stalls and objections.

4. Know your competition.

Most sellers contact more than one agent for a consultation before listing their home for sale. It’s always a good idea to know your competition and what value you bring to a transaction that another local agent may not. For example, your Instagram account may have thousands of followers, or your blog may make it to page one of the search engine results pages on a regular basis.

While it is never appropriate to speak negatively about one of your competitors, there is nothing wrong with discussing your unique value in the marketplace and how you can help get the home sold in ways that others cannot.

5. Have all documentation at the ready.

You want them to sign immediately. They may be ready to do so, and they may not. Nevertheless, like a Boy Scout, you must be prepared. Bring all of the necessary documentation so that the sellers — if they are ready to list their property today — can sign the listing agreement immediately. If you don’t bring the agreement with you and one of your competitors is scheduled to meet with these same sellers in an hour, you can say goodbye to your new listing in the local neighborhood farm.

Nobody ever said that listing and selling real estate was easy. But, if you do as I’ve suggested in these five tips, your next listing presentation will be a cut above the rest.

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