hiring a realtor

Five Tips for Hiring a Realtor

“Five Tips for Hiring a Realtor” is part of Executor Duties 101, a series by Executor.org that highlights steps in the process of settling an estate.


As an executor you will likely have to oversee the sale of the deceased’s home or property. While you might consider selling the home yourself in hopes of saving realtor commission fees, keep in mind it can be a very challenging process. The advice you’ll get from an objective real estate agent will help beneficiaries know that the best possible decisions are being made on their behalf. This includes everything from pricing and preparing the home for sale, to negotiating and managing the sales process.

Having a realtor also spares you from having to show the home to potential buyers, which is important if you have a busy schedule or don’t live close. And those who view the home will be far more likely to share their true opinions with a real estate agent than someone connected to the deceased, so you can gain valuable feedback about ways to make the house more appealing to buyers.

At Executor.org, we have researched and come up with 5 valuable tips for hiring a realtor.

1. Look at their track record of selling homes.

How successful is the real estate agent? Ask how long their listings have stayed on the market, on average, over the past two years, and at what percentage of asking price they have sold for. You’ll be paying the realtor a great deal of money so don’t feel badly about asking tough questions. Ask how long they have been in the business and think twice before hiring a rookie.

2. Understand in what neighborhoods they specialize.

Different agents focus on different parts of a town, therefore choose an agent who lists and sells a good number of homes in the deceased’s neighborhood. Their current listings and recent sales can give you some direction on this one. If you are aware of homes for sale near the home, ask the realtor about them when you are together and see if they are knowledgeable about your competition and have checked out the homes personally.

3. Talk to former clients of the realtor.

People who have worked with the agent will have a good perspective on their service and things like how attentive they were, and what kinds of creative ideas they had to generate qualified traffic to the home. One great question to ask is how long it typically took the agent to return a call. Another one is how patient and helpful they were when you had questions about the more technical aspects of the process.

4. Confirm their licensing.

All states have state licensing boards. Make sure your agent holds a license in good standing, and ask if there are any complaints against them or pending litigation.

5. Ask about fees.

The least expensive solution is not always the best solution here. You want to find the right realtor and sell the home in a timely manner. Saving one percent by hiring someone who won’t aggressively market the home is not necessarily the right choice. Before signing the listing agreement always understand what percentage commission you will be asked to pay upon the sale of the home and what other costs, if any, you will be asked to pay. Related to the contract, make sure you understand the timeframe of your commitment before signing the document.

Selling a home can be a lengthy process that requires patience. And since a home is usually one of the largest assets in a person’s estate, it is very likely the sale – and the speed of it – will be of great interest to beneficiaries. Hiring a skilled real estate agent not only means you get expert advice and help, but also better ensures the house sells as quickly as possible for the highest price.

If you need more help as an executor, check out these online executor tools to make your role easier.