The Perfect Client

Putting your house on the market? Here are five ways to help your REALTOR sell it.

If you are selling your home, your attitudes and behaviors will have an impact on how quickly it sells and how much you get for it. Of course, you need to hire a good listing agent -- interview several agents and choose one you are confident will do a good job of listing and marketing your home.

Once you've picked your listing agent, here are five ways you can help him or her field the best possible offer for your house:

1.       Be flexible about price. A good agent will recommend a reasonable list price based on a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA). You can ask your agent to set the price higher or even lower than the CMA, but heed his or her advice -- a qualified REALTOR has a better feel for the market than you. Most often, sellers are tempted to set their listing price high. This can backfire -- if the price is not competitive with that of comparable houses, you won't get much interest from house hunters.

2.       Keep your marketing expectations realistic. Make sure you understand your agent's marketing plan. Will he or she host an agents' open house? Advertise in your community newspaper? List your home online for buyers to preview? Often an agent's primary goal is to get your house seen by as many buyers as possible. This strategy may help you get the best -- not necessarily the first -- offer.

3.       Fix up your house. Ask your agent for suggestions on how to get your home in tip-top shape before it goes on the market. Your agent may be able to suggest relatively inexpensive minor repairs that will add thousands of dollars in value to your home, such as sprucing up the exterior of your house to increase its curb appeal, or brightening a dull room up with a coat of paint. At the very least, you'll need to clean your house thoroughly, and remove excess furniture and clutter.

4.       Get out -- and take your pets with you. Ask your agent to give you plenty of notice of when showings will take place, so you can plan activities that keep you out of the house, and make arrangements to keep pets away too. If you must stay home, stay in the back yard or in one room -- along with your pets. And don't provide any advice or comments unless you are asked a direct question.

5.       Communicate clearly. Don't put the onus to communicate on your agent. Ask what you can do to improve your home for showing, and explain what you expect from him or her. Speak up if you feel your agent doesn't understand your priorities, if you're worried about poor response to ads and MLS listings, or have other concerns.