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Tuesday, April 24 News

Skolnick's Scoop / How to find the right agent

Technology has changed the way consumers do business. The real estate industry is no exception. In fact, 92 percent of homebuyers use the Internet during their property search, according to a 2013 study by the National Association of Realtors.

However, most agree that when it comes to buying or selling a home, a transaction of this magnitude requires the guidance of a professional. In the same study, 88 percent of buyers and 87 percent of sellers said they used a real estate professional during the process.

To locate a potential candidate:

Ask family, friends and business associates for referrals.

Attend open houses. If the sales professional or broker impresses you, ask for a business card.

Drive through neighborhoods that interest you and look for yard signs to see what company handles most of the sales.

Call the local Realtor who you trust for a referral to an office in another town.

Be wary of strictly searching on the Web for an agent. Agents pay for top spots; it doesn't mean they are the best. As a matter of fact, some of the agents that come up on a recent Westport search I have never even heard of, even with my 21 years selling Westport real estate.

Now you're ready for the interview. Whether you're buying or selling, the sales professional should explain the entire process up front. Ask questions that will display the sales professional's experience, knowledge and motivation to help you. Questions such as:

Do you work full time or part time?

How long have you been selling homes in this area?

Are you familiar with the areas I'm considering?

What type of homes do you usually handle?

What percentage of your business comes from referrals and repeat clients?

How many sales have you closed?

How many homes did you sell last year?

What percentage of your listings sold during the listing period?

Did they sell close to the asking price?

On average, how many days does a home stay on the market?

How will you guide me as I prepare the house to be shown?

How will you advertise our home? In what publications and when will ads run?

Will you hold open houses? How will you advertise an open house?

What other ways will you else to get the word out?

How often can I expect to be updated, even if there's nothing to report?

A word to sellers: don't base your selection solely on selling price.

Linda Skolnick's "Skolnick's Scoop" appears every other Friday. She is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Riverside in Westport and can be reached by calling 203-246-0088 or through her website, www.GoAskLinda.com.