Notice that I used the verb “to hire.” This is a job, and the job is to handle one of the largest financial transactions in your life, so first of all you need to establish qualifications and criteria before even interviewing candidates for this job.
Becoming a licensed real estate agent is probably easier than it should be, considering how important our job is. Appraisers, by contrast, have to study more, pass harder tests, and even apprentice before they can get their licenses. For real estate, you need only take 168 hours of licensing class (which you can do online) and pass a 3-hour state exam, plus survive a criminal background check from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. This is why we have so many part-timers in this business, and why the average real estate licensee earns less than $50,000 per year. You’d be surprised at how many licensees have zero or one transaction per year. Those agents are living off another income or a supportive spouse, and their small number of completed transactions means they have limited experience to serve you.
So, qualification number one for the job of listing your home should be the number of completed transactions the licensee has had within the past few years. You can get this information on Denver’s MLS, www. REcolorado.com. I’ve created a shortcut that goes directly to the agent look-up page: www.FindDenverRealtors.com. See screenshot at right. (Keep nicknames in mind when entering your candidate’s name. I’m Jim, not James, but some Jim’s may be under James, etc.) When you find the agent, click on “View My Listings” where you’ll see a number for “Properties I’m Selling” and “Properties I’ve Sold.” This is not to say that a less experienced agent working under good supervision (like my broker associates) wouldn’t be a good candidate, but experience does count, so find out how experienced he or she is. With proper supervision, a newer, hungrier agent might do a great job and be more attentive.
While you’re there, take a look at how the agent is presenting his/her listings. Are the all-important photographs high quality, or do the rooms appear dark and are the windows a white blur? Study the details of each listing. Does the agent describe each room in detail, including dimensions, or do they just have barebones public remarks? Click on the “virtual tour” (if you see a link for it above the main picture). Is it just a slideshow of the same pictures but with music, or is it a narrated video walk-through of the property?
Remember, the best predictor of how your house will be portrayed is how this agent has presented his or her prior listings.
Any employer (which is your role in this situation) would Google the candidate’s name and see what comes up. Look at their Facebook page and other social media to see if they’re serious and successful and have good reviews.
Appraisers are required to have “geographic competence” when accepting assignments, but not so with real estate agents. You are perfectly free to hire an agent who hasn’t had a listing within 20 miles of your home and doesn’t know your market. But should you? All too often I see instances where a seller fell in love with a home far from their current home and hired the agent for that home to list their current home. Do the opposite. Hire the best qualified Realtor to list your current home and let that agent represent you in the purchase of your replacement home — and have that agent discount your listing commission because of what they will earn on your purchase. That’s what I do.
If you’re like most people, you have a friend or relative with a real estate license, or a friend who recommends their friend or relative. Subject that candidate to the same qualifications and criteria as any other candidate. This job is just too important. Hire wisely.