Choosing the right listing agent just got easier with this great guide based on one from HGTV and applied to our practice in Costa Rica.
The world is full of people who sell real estate. Some of them are smart, efficient, focused, versatile and willing to go the extra mile. And some of them aren’t. This doesn’t change, no matter if it’s Costa Rica or Canada. And in a small but fast-growing community like ours in the Costa Ballena, everyone is friends with at least one realtor in Costa Rica.
Finding an agent who will sell your home using a range of marketing tools; who will get you the best deal possible in a reasonable amount of time, all while charging a fair rate, takes some effort. As a seller, it is your goal to interview at least three candidates before you sign a contract. Your best friend may not be your best choice for representing your most valuable asset in Costa Rica.
Here are 10 questions you really want to ask so you can identify the best real estate agent to sell your property:
How much is my property worth?
Ask potential agents how much they think they can sell your home for. If two agents say $600,000 and the third says $700,000, think hard: it’s likely the high bid is an exaggeration to attract your business. In the trade it’s known as buying a listing. In the end, it’s you, the seller, who pays because the high price will scare away potential buyers before you inevitably drop the price.
We often see this happen to unsuspecting sellers as we are touring new listings. Consider how the agents arrived at the suggested list price. Did they present a current market assessment, showing you recent sales of comparable properties? Did they show you the current properties on the market that will be your homes’ competition that prospective buyers will be comparing your home against?
If you are a serious seller, the best policy is to price your property reasonably competitively in the current market. You want to attract serious offers instead of having buyers perceive your property overpriced and present low-ball offers.
It is our job as realtors to lead you through the negotiation and we at Osa Tropical Properties consider it an art form. We may love your home and want to show it to our buyers. But if it has been over-priced by another agency, it will be obvious to our buyers, who we educate in the local market. Over-priced properties stand out to our buyers and make them question the integrity of the local market, which is not helpful for anyone. The best policy is for agents to price properties correctly, using the available market data. In this case, both sellers and buyers win….and that is the desired outcome in the art of the deal.
How will you market my property?
Listing your property on the Internet shouldn’t be the only answer that your realtor has for this question. A realtor should be able to talk about what kinds of people are likely to buy your property and how he/she will reach out to these specific people.
Our agents show potential sellers a tailored listing presentation that includes the quality of our marketing in comparison to our competition. Our Osa Tropical Properties office offers in house professional photography, videos, virtual tours, 360 videos, and so much more to market our listings. We have a dedicated team that works to advertise our clients’ properties, and Costa Rica in general, to the right channels all over the world.
We show our potential listing clients recent comparable properties that have sold in the region and the final sales prices. We also share the comparable properties currently for sale that will be the listing’s direct competition.
How has your business changed in the last five years?
If an agent doesn’t talk about website tours, smartphones and SEO, chances are this is not a highly wired agent. Tech-savvy realtors sell more properties because they are more connected! Our team uses every tool, new and old, to capture new leads from all over the world. And we use a variety of methods to keep our leads engaged and interested. Our team goals are client retention and staying in close contact with our client buyers.
As a seller with Osa Tropical Properties, you will benefit from receiving numerous touches or “nudges” about your property and its’ various appealing features. Costa Rica is predominantly a vacation destination and we know that buyers are quick to come and go. Our marketing strategy is all about grabbing opportunities as they arise.
Tell me how your last two deals surprised you?
Every agent has a success story, but this question will give you a much better feel for what this realtor is like as a salesperson. In a land where buyers and sellers may be in or out of the country at various points throughout the deals, there are a lot of surprises that can and do happen regularly in our transactions. What counts is how an agent deals with obstacles. Are they timely? Organized? Patient? Willing to help?
What’s your specialty as a realtor in Costa Rica?
If you’re selling a starter home in a community full of young families, hiring an agent who specializes in seniors is probably a bad idea. The same goes for real estate in Costa Ballena. Each of our local communities have niche areas that sing to some clients and repulse others. Our strategy is to understand our buyers and those we meet in collaborative transactions with other brokerages.
We make notes at our showings and keep track of different buyers’ responses to the listings we view together. No matter the feedback, we keep track so that we can learn and grow alongside the clients we represent. Every market is changing and growing and ours is no exception. What we can do is to keep our finger on the pulse of what is going on around us at all times.
How many people are you selling homes for right now and what are you doing for them?
It may not be a bad thing that a highly-successful agent is juggling 15 homes. Ask yourself: do you feel like you can trust them to give you dedicated, personal service with their current listing roster? How many comparable properties do they have that have been on the market for a long time?
On the other hand, be wary of an agent with few other clients because they may lack experience and contacts. Our agents take on the listings that we know that we can sell. Our client testimonials are our best advertisements for getting new listings because our clients are confident that we represented them to the fullest potential.
What do you expect of me as a client?
A good salesperson will have expectations of their clients, as strange as this may sound at first. They may want their sellers to leave and take the dog when the house is shown, or to paint the bodega, move some furniture around and scrub the tile in the bathroom. It shows that your agent can think like a buyer and that’s a good thing. We have so many showings every week that our finger is on the pulse of what buyers are looking for today. We are able to give advice that has afforded sellers the ability to list at a higher value. It may be as simple change like spending a few hundred dollars on landscaping or fresh paint and selling for something like $10,000 more.
What advice would you have for me if I get an offer from a buyer who wants financing?
It wasn’t very long ago when our answer might have sounded like “turn around and run the other way.” These days, buyers are asking more often about financing. Although it is difficult for buyers to get a loan in Costa Rica (banks and private lenders both have extremely high interest rates and restrictions). As a result, sellers are offering personal financing to sweeten their deal when buyers are struggling to respond to their listing.
Good real estate agents should be able to help you understand the seller-financing process and offer advice about if it is right for your situation. A realtor should engage with the closing attorney to ensure the documentation is correct, protecting all parties in accordance with Costa Rican laws.
What fees do you charge for your service?
Our office and most brokerages in the Costa Ballena generally operate by the industry standards set and agreed upon by the Cámara de Corredores de Bienes Raices (Chamber of Real Estate Brokers) in Costa Rica. This means that sellers are expected to pay an 8% commission to realtors for a home and 10% for a vacant lot, plus 13% service tax. For this fee, we guarantee our full attention to your listing, to deliver on the various marketing and sales initiatives as promised in our listing presentation. Ultimately, we aim to bring our clients the successful closure of the sale of their property.
Can I talk to one of your previous clients?
It’s often best to hear about us directly from those who have worked with us in the past. You are most welcome to contact our team with any questions you may have for our previous clients. We will strive to put you in touch with someone relevant in the community with whom we’ve worked in the past.
In the meantime, please visit our website to read dozens of testimonials from our past clients and present neighbors. When you work and live in such a small, tight-knit Costa Rica community, the best business card is word-of-mouth: https://www.osatropicalproperties.com/client-testimonials/