Finding the right agent is a crucial decision. A mistake could cost thousands of dollars.

A Neighborhood Specialist can be helpful to a buyer wishing to live in a particular neighborhood. For a potential seller, the need is for a Listing Specialist.

Virginia law recognizes the two agents involved in every transaction.

First is the Selling Agent, and it may be counter intuitive, but this agent represents the Buyer. The law is recognizing that the buyer’s agent will ultimately sell the home. They will be walking the potential buyer through your home, and influencing whether or not an offer is made.

The second agent is the one representing the seller, the Listing Agent, whose responsibility is to attract as many potential buyers as possible to view your home. The Listing Agent must be an expert in marketing, and a skilled negotiator who can get you top dollar for your home.

The following can give you some items to look for in a potential Listing Agent, most of which are geared toward marketing:

Staging – Staged homes sell faster and for more money than either an empty home or one with all your “stuff”. Your agent should offer to bring in a professional stager for a consultation.

Top Notch Photography – Often a buyer’s first impression of a home is from the Internet. If the pictures are second rate, then the home will look second rate. Great, pro-quality photography can help attract buyers to your home. The more pictures the better, and not just of your home, but of surrounding amenities such as community pools, Metro, and parks.

Virtual tours – Many agents settle for the standard “virtual tour” in the MLS system which is little more than scrolling photographs. A good virtual tour should highlight the “selling points” of your home, have creative movement, and show how each room connects to the next.

Internet Explosion – Once listed, your home should explode across the internet to virtually every major real estate site in the United States. Remember, over 85% of buyers now start their home search online before they ever contact an agent.

Neighborhood Mailings – Friends want their friends to buy in their neighborhood. Your listing agent should be mailing your neighbors, renters within a certain radius of your home, and their own database of potential buyers and sellers.

Brochures – A buyer may look at as many as a dozen homes on a given day. A professional brochure with quality photographs will help them remember why they liked your home.

Open Houses – Opens come in many forms, and all should be utilized as needed. Aside from the traditional Sunday open, others to consider are a Brokers open targeting other agents, an open specifically targeting your neighbors, a mid-week open to draw in commuter traffic, and a Saturday open house as needed.

Pricing – Your listing specialist should be able to suggest a good list price based on work they have done to research comparable homes in your area that are for sale, under contract, or have sold in the last six months.