Q: I am planning to sell my condo in Harlem, and I’m looking for a real estate agent who can assist me with the process in this brutal housing market. How do I determine what makes a good agent? Should I look for someone who has sold a unit in my building? Should I ask for references? What other factors should I consider?

A: For most Americans, our home is our most valuable asset, and we realize those gains when we sell. So it’s crucial to choose the salesperson wisely.

Funny, then, that New York home sellers spend an average of three and a half hours researching brokers — less time than they spend searching for vacation destinations, according to a StreetEasy survey. “It’s one of the most critical aspects of selling, and it’s even more important in a market like New York City,” said Nick Smith-George, who leads the buyer and seller programs at StreetEasy.

You want to find a broker who is familiar with your neighborhood, your price point and the type of building you live in. A broker who focuses on Brooklyn brownstones is probably not a good match for a condo in Harlem. So interview several agents, including ones who have sold in your building before. You want to find out how they will price your apartment, market it, stage it and sell it. They should provide you with a pricing strategy, based on comparable sales in your area.

Ask to see marketing materials for other properties the broker has listed. Find them on the internet and read the listings descriptions for quality. Look at the photos and video tours. Ask if they use social media for marketing, and if they do, check out their accounts.

“Scrutinize how someone markets apartments,” said Pamela D’Arc, an associate broker with Compass. “Look at their website. Are the photos excellent? There is no excuse these days for not having excellent photos.”

Ask for references, and if the broker has sold in your building, speak with the neighbors who worked with them. Look for online references, too. You want a broker who will give you personal attention. If they are the leader of a team, will they be the person at your open house? Will they take your calls? Or will you get handed off to an associate? Ask how many listings they currently have, and how much time they will devote to yours. “It’s all about a broker that makes themselves available,” Ms. D’Arc said.

You also need to get along with the person you choose, and feel confident in the advice they give you. Or, as Sarah Saltzberg, an owner of Bohemia Realty Group in Upper Manhattan, put it: “You want to make sure you are working with someone who is listening to you, understanding you, and really advocating for you.”

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Source: | This article originally belongs to Nytimes.com

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