5 Important Questions to Ask a Realtor Before Signing a Listing Agreement

By: Carol Austin

5 Important Questions to Ask a Realtor Before Signing a Listing Agreement

Tags: toronto real estate, selling my home


Did you know that the average Realtor licensed in Toronto might only list one single property a year? There are over 30,000 licensed Realtors in Toronto and, as a result, the 80/20 rule applies--about 20% of the agents are highly skilled and actively conducting 80% of the business.
If you are about to sell one of the largest assets you own, do not trust the job to just anyone. Don’t feel pressured to use a family member that happens to have their license as a part-time agent. And don’t call just one agent without interviewing at least three Realtors. Here are 5 important questions to ask a Realtor:

  1. How many houses (or condos) did you list for sale in the last 12 months?
  2. What commission fee will you charge to sell my home and what services are included in that fee? 
  3. What will you do to help me get my home ready for sale? 
  4. Do you take your own photographs or use a professional photographer?
  5. What kind of team support and other resources do you offer to help me sell my house?

Set aside an evening or two and meet with potential Realtors. Ask them how many listings they had in the past year. Know that real estate commissions are negotiable so don't be afraid to ask what the agent's fees will be. If the agent is offering a discounted commission, make sure you understand what is included and where they might be cutting corners to put more cash in their pocket. How much support will they give you to get your home ready for sale? Will they include a consultation with a professional stager? Do they take their own photographs or do they use a professional photographer? Will they have an online virtual tour? Ask to see an example of what the tour will look like.  Ask them who else is on their team or do they work solo? A busy Realtor juggles multiple clients so you want to be sure you get the attention you need after the paperwork is signed.
Remember there are two “sides” to the commission fee. One side is what your listing agent receives. The other side is what a "co-operating broker" will receive if the buyer has his or her own agent. When you sign the agreement at the negotiated commission, what commission will be offered to the co-operating broker? This should be clearly noted on the listing agreement form and it should be at least 2.5% in Toronto. This will ensure your house is appropriately competing against other homes for sale. What commission fee will the agent receive if they “double end” the sale—which means they have a buyer approach them directly? This fee should be negotiated as well and a separate “collateral agreement” drawn up to go along with the listing agreement.

You might wonder why I didn't include the question, "What is your marketing plan?" If you have an unusual property or a luxury property, this will be an important question. However, for the vast majority of condo and home sales in Toronto under $1M, the MLS system is the most powerful marketing tool there is. This database system was built by Realtors and is paid for through Realtor dues. Listings posted on the MLS are automatically sent out to thousands of Realtors and potential buyers through syndicated websites running IDX and VOW feeds, as well as through automated buyer searches. It is by far, the very best way to attract high numbers of qualified buyers to view your property. 
If you have any other questions about the selling process, let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them.