Pay attention to this before making a decision on choosing a listing agent

The agent suggests the highest price for your house. If you鈥檙e selling your house, get listing presentations from at least three agents, who will tell you what comparable homes have sold for and how long they take to sell. The agents are all looking at the same data, so the suggested listing price should be close. Pricing a home too high at the start often means it takes longer to sell and ultimately sells for less. 鈥淚f you鈥檙e too high for the market, buyers will not even look at it because they know you鈥檙e not realistic,鈥 says Lee, the author of eight books and a frequent speaker at real estate conferences. 鈥淭he longer your property sits on the market, the more people are going to think there鈥檚 something wrong with it.鈥

The agent does real estate on the side, part time. Whether you鈥檙e a buyer or seller, you want to choose an agent who is actively following the market every day. If you鈥檙e buying, you want an agent who can jump on new listings and show them to you immediately. If you鈥檙e the seller, you want an agent who is always available to show your home to prospective buyers.

The agent is a relative. Unless your relative is a crackerjack full-time agent who specializes in your neighborhood, he or she is unlikely to do as good of a job as another agent. That can breed resentment, as well as derail your transaction.

The agent doesn鈥檛 know the real estate landscape in your neighborhood. Finding a neighborhood expert is especially important in areas where moving a block can raise or lower the value of a home by $100,000. An agent who specializes in a neighborhood may also be in touch with buyers who are looking for a home just like yours or sellers who haven鈥檛 put their home on the market yet. 鈥淚t鈥檚 really a very local business,鈥 Lee says.

The agent charges a lower commission. In most areas, commissions are traditionally 5 to 7 percent, split between the buying and selling agent. If the commission on your house is lower, fewer agents will show it. This doesn鈥檛 mean you can鈥檛 negotiate a slightly lower commission if one agent ends up both listing and selling the house. Some newer companies rebate part of the commission to the buyer or seller, but don鈥檛 use that as the sole reason to choose an agent. That鈥檚 only a bargain if the agent is otherwise a good fit.The agent鈥檚 face shows up with online listings. The agents鈥 faces are there because they paid to be there. They may or may not be the best choice for you. Don鈥檛 accept the online portal鈥檚 assertion that the agent is a neighborhood expert. Interview him or her yourself and find out.

The agent doesn鈥檛 usually deal with your type of property. If you鈥檙e buying or selling a condominium, don鈥檛 pick an agent who rarely sells condos. If you鈥檙e looking for investment property, find an agent who traditionally works with investors. Many agents have multiple specialties, but you want to make sure the agent is well-versed in the type of transaction you鈥檙e doing.

The agent doesn鈥檛 usually work with buyers in your price range. Some agents specialize in homes of all types in a specific area. But if you鈥檙e a first-time buyer looking for a $200,000 entry-level home, you are unlikely to get much attention from an agent who mostly handles $10 million luxury listings.

The agent is a poor negotiator or fails to keep up with details of the transaction. In many cases, the most important work of an agent is not to find the home but to make sure the sale closes. That includes making sure the buyer is preapproved for a mortgage, the home is free of liens before it goes on the market, the appraisal is accurate and issues raised by the home inspection are resolved.