A close-up of two people exchanging house keys, symbolizing a real estate transaction
Working with an experienced real estate agent can help simplify the home-selling process. Know what to look for in an agent as you choose which one to work with.

If you plan to sell your home before moving to a senior living facility, it helps to hire a real estate agent with extensive experience, knowledge, and training. This guide explores what a real estate agent does, how they get paid, and how they can help you find the right buyer for your beloved home.

What does a real estate agent do?

A real estate agent guides homeowners and potential buyers through the complex real estate market. A real estate agent is a valuable resource for navigating market conditions and locating quality professionals for property transactions. There are two types of real estate agents:

  • Buyers agent: This real estate agent focuses on assisting home buyers by searching market listings, making offers, and negotiating on behalf of potential buyers. 
  • Listing agent: This real estate agent specializes in assisting home sellers. Their expertise focuses on the listing, marketing, and pricing of homes. Listing agents negotiate on the seller’s behalf. 

It is possible for a real estate agent to be both a buyers agent and a listing agent — sometimes for the same property. 

Realtor vs. real estate agent

Realtors and real estate agents must have a license in the state where they practice. Additionally, they both must comply with state and national laws. 

Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They pay membership dues and pledge to uphold a code of ethics and maintain the association’s standards. In return, they receive special access to real estate market data and transaction management services. They can also take courses through the NAR to earn additional designations, such as becoming a Seniors Real Estate Specialist.

It’s important to note that not every real estate agent is a Realtor, but all Realtors are real estate agents.

The difference between a broker and an agent

A real estate broker is a real estate agent who has completed additional training and coursework. A broker will have a real estate broker license through their state of operation. The broker must pass an exam after completing the necessary coursework to get licensed. Essentially, a real estate broker has in-depth, high-level knowledge of the real estate business.

Besides knowledge, the primary benefit of obtaining a real estate broker license is the ability to operate independently and oversee other real estate agents. Some brokers choose to work under a managing broker.

How much do real estate agents make?

How much is an agent’s commission?

A real estate agent’s commission is typically a percentage of the final sales price, 5 to 6% on average. Depending on the amount of work involved in selling the home, agents can negotiate the commission. Agents may obtain a lower commission if a seller is willing to take a more active role in the process.

What are you paying for?

The seller pays the real estate commission for the effort and expertise the real estate agent put into selling the home. The listing agent then splits the commission with the buying agent. 

How to find the right real estate agent

Follow these steps to ensure you find a real estate agent to match your needs:

Gauge their responsiveness

An ideal real estate agent is responsive and prompt. If an agent is slow to respond to initial contact, it may be hard to reach them when it matters most. Conversely, an agent who responds quickly and follows up may be more communicative and helpful throughout the process.

Seek referrals

Ask local friends, family, and co-workers who have sold their homes to recommend a real estate agent. While their recommendations may not all match your particular circumstances, word-of-mouth referrals can give you a good place to start.

Research agents online

A quality agent will be good at marketing themselves. Search online for details on real estate agents, such as years of experience, their number of properties sold, and recent listings. To find information on an agent, simply type their name followed by “real estate” or “Realtor.” Use your best judgment when vetting potential agents, especially when reading reviews.

Interview agents

Once you collect a list of qualified agents, conduct phone and in-person interviews to understand their industry experience and how they can help you. Consider starting with these interview questions:

  • How long have you been in the industry?
  • How many houses do you list each year? How many do you sell?
  • What is the percentage of listings that are sold under your management?
  • What is your advertising strategy?
  • How would you plan on listing my home?
  • How will you use social media to promote my listing?
  • What traditional offline methods will you be using?
  • Can I see previous advertising examples?
  • What is your advertising budget?

Evaluate their skills

At this stage, you should have a relatively good idea of each real estate agent’s ability and skill range. It is best to narrow your list by removing agents with less than two years of experience, low sales numbers, lower than 95% average list price to actual sales price ratio, and any agent with multiple negative reviews. Finally, remove anyone who hesitated to answer any of your interview questions. You want a real estate agent who evaluates themselves and knows their numbers.

Consider how they will market your home

Selling a home relies on a solid marketing plan. Consider which marketing tools each agent plans to use, the marketing budget, and how the marketing plan will enhance your home’s appeal. The best real estate agents offer additional services, including video, drone photos, custom print materials, a rendered floor plan, staging, and a plan to improve your home’s value. 

Finding a real estate agent is an important task that can ultimately determine how you pay for senior living expenses. ElderLife Financial Services offers access to a network of qualified real estate agents who specialize in working with seniors. Connect with a local senior real estate agent today.