The time has finally come! You're ready to sell your home -- perhaps in order to buy a bigger and better one, perhaps so that you can move to a new area, or perhaps just because it's the right economic move for you at the moment. One of your first tasks is to choose a real estate agent to sell your home for you (assuming you don't decide to sell it on your own, as many people are trying these days).

On our Buying and Selling a home discussion board recently, this topic came up when Zoom03 asked:

  • What should I look for/ask when interviewing?
  • What sort of services should I be watching for?
  • Are listing agent fees negotiable? I know this can be negotiable for the buyer but am unsure how to negotiate as the seller.

As frequently happens when someone asks a good question in our online community, lots of smart and helpful people responded. Here are some of their comments:

oregoncity said: "We have had an excellent working relationship with a small independent broker. Since we are working directly with the broker, there is no commission to divide on her part (buyer's agent still gets half, of course). Thus she was able to offer us a very competitive percentage on the first sale we did with her (5%)... Ask any agent how they will market the property. How many newspaper ads, how many open houses..."

pauleckler, noting that Zoom03's home is worth more than $300,000, said, "Most realtors will be willing to sell your home for under $20,000 in commissions. So you might be able to negotiate down to as low as 4% to 4.5% with a full service broker."

Watty56 offered: "In the past when I have hired a real estate agent I have talked to least a half a dozen on the phone and invited the top three to make a formal presentation. Be sure to include agents that have recently sold condos in your building. Be cautious with referrals -- even if they are a great agent they may tend to specialize in a slightly different area of town or type of property."

2gifts added: "...I think you should have your real estate attorney lined up, and I wouldn't sign the listing agreement with any agent until it has been reviewed by your attorney."

Zol noted: "I used a flat-fee, discount broker to sell our house last August. They didn't do the showings themselves. They provided a lockbox that the buyer's agent could open when they got the combination at the time they made the appointment to see the house. We didn't do any showings either, just got out of the house when people were coming... the total commission we paid was around 2.9% -- that was 2.4% for the buyer's agent (that is customary in our part of town) + the flat fee that was about 0.5% of the sale price."

(Read the whole discussion for many more suggestions offered by the above Fools and others.)

Keep in mind
As you meet various candidates for your business, pay attention to your chemistry together, too. Make sure you're comfortable and sense that you'll be able to work together well. Look for experience, too. These days many people have become real estate agents, but they're not all equally skilled. Get more tips from Robert Brokamp in this article.

Get gobs of info
If you're interested in home buying and selling issues, visit our Home Center, which features lots of money-saving tips. You might also want to check out these articles, especially if you'll soon be buying a new home:

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns no shares of any company mentioned. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.