By GORDON JACKSON
There are a lot of questions to ponder before a property owner who wants to place their property on the market meets with a Realtor for the first time.
And the questions come from both sides before the decision is made to put the “for sale” sign on the front lawn.
Realtor Zaida Clay Harris, broker/owner of Signature Properties Group, said the first question she asks after she introduces herself to prospective clients is about their plans after their house is sold.
In a sellers market, Harris said a properly priced home in the Golden Isles can potentially get multiple offers soon after it goes on the market. Sellers then better have a plan on where to live if their home sells quickly.
Sellers should ask about the broker’s marketing plan, including live and virtual tours. Harris said most sellers have relaxed requirements for in-person tours, but some still require masks, booties and hand sanitizer. Most agents will have masks and hand sanitizer on hand for tours.
While the market is strong, sellers have to trust their brokers when it comes to setting a selling price. Some sellers will look at what a neighbor’s house sold for and ask a similar price without realizing the difference in square footage, view and other features that change the value.
Harris said it’s a good idea to ask brokers to show support for their recommended list price. She said brokers study the market and can back up their recommendations with data.
“People need to be careful in their pricing,” Harris said. “It’s not going to sell if it’s overpriced.”
But sometimes owners will insist on a higher asking price, despite a broker’s recommendation.
Harris said she will market a home priced by the owner higher than she recommends, but it often results in no offers.
“The market is telling you the price is too high,” she said. “Trust the agent, but have them show you the research to support that price.”
Finding a buyer may not be the only problem sellers encounter when they overprice their homes. Realtors may also balk at marketing a property that won’t sell because the asking price is too high.
“If you price it too high, they won’t even play ball with you,” she said.
When a house is priced fairly, Harris said a good question to ask is how the broker will handle multiple offers. It sometimes results in selling the home for more money than the asking price.
Brokers want to know why a person is selling his or her home. But that story isn’t always shared with prospective buyers because there are so many reasons – good and bad – a home goes on the market.
“Nobody will tell you if it’s a bad situation,” Harris said.
A question brokers often ask is what the owner likes about the house as a way to help them market the home.
Realtor Allison Van der Veer, a broker with Roland Daniel Properties, said a good question to ask a broker is if he or she has sold any homes in the neighborhood.
“Are you familiar with our neighborhood?” she said. “Many neighborhoods sell themselves.”
Buyers with school-age children should also ask about local schools. She said children living in some areas south of Gloucester Street in downtown Brunswick attend St. Simons Elementary School, which some prospective buyers don’t realize.
Van der Veer said sellers should ask for recommendations on improvements to their homes as a way to maximize the selling price before it goes on the market. She gives recommendations that are short, easy projects that can be done over a weekend.
“I try not to overwhelm them,” she said.
In most instances, because it’s a strong seller’s market, Van der Veer said 80 to 90 percent of sellers aren’t following her recommendations for improvements. And that’s not necessarily a mistake in today’s market.
“The nice thing about a seller’s market is a lot of people are happy to make their own improvements,” she said.
While it’s a good idea to be prepared before that first meeting with a broker, Van der Veer said there is something else customers should look for.
“When an agent asks you a lot of questions, that’s a good sign,” she said.