It would be an oversimplification to say that seller representation is the same as buyer representation only for the "other guy". Seller representation starts when you decide to hire a Realtor. And remember, that's what you're doing - you're hiring someone to work for you. The job of this employee is to help you make good decisions and the first decision to be made is: the listing price of your home. Take the time to read the paragraph in the box to the right. This comes from a syndicated article written real estate columnist, Robert Bruss.
And what about commission? Never hire an agent simply because they charge the lowest commission. Always remember the old but very true saying "you get what you pay for". Now that doesn't mean you should go out and find the agent with the highest commission assuming that they also provide the highest level of service. It just means you should consider the whole package. There are many expenses associated with selling a house: advertising, the printing and making of brochures, a broker's luncheon held at your home to introduce it to agents in your area, etc. The discount agent will have to skimp on something. Keep in mind, too, that the commission rate will have an impact on more than just you. In most cases, the commission will have to be split between the seller's broker (agency) and the buyer's broker. From there in most cases, the agent will be paid only a portion of that half, sometimes the agent will get as little as 50%. Think about that. if your house sells for $100,000 and you pay the broker a 6% commission, that means your agent's company gets $3,000 and the buyer agent's company gets $3,000. If your agent gets only 50% of that, your agent earns $1500 for a transaction that may have cost out of pocket expenses and taken several months to complete.
Ok, let's move on. So you've hired the best person for the job. You've interviewed several agents and you've hired the one that has the best marketing plan and the one who shares your common goal: getting you the highest possible price for your home as quickly as possible with the least amount of inconvenience. The next step is trust - trust the person you've hired to do the job, trust him/her to know the market and to suggest a price that isn't so low that you'll give your house away or so high that it will scare buyers away. There's nothing wrong with testing the market by pricing your home $2,000 - $5,000 higher than the last home sold in your area but much higher than that and your fooling yourself and wasting both your time and the time of your "employee".
Next, have your agent tour your home and give you a list of things that would make your home more attractive and more marketable. I always give my Sellers a list and explain to them that they don't have to do anything but for the highest possible price, do everything on the list. Again, trust your agent's advice even if it means spending a little money. Generally, the improvements I suggest to my Sellers make them at least $3 for very dollar they spend. For instance, new carpet for $1500 can net an extra $5,000.
Your agent should discuss financing with you. There are financing plans such as FHA and VA that may require the Seller to pay some fees. Discuss these options with your agent and decide whether or not you'd like to work with these buyers.
Consider providing a homebuyer's warranty. Warranties can be purchased so that they cover the Buyer only or so that they also cover the Seller during the listing period. Homebuyer's warranties are a good selling tool. They help to ease the minds of nervous buyers and they show that you have confidence in the quality of the home you're selling.
Once your home begins being shown, a good agent will give at least a weekly report which includes the number of showings and feedback from perspective Buyers and their Realtors. That way you'll know what others are thinking about your house and you and your agent can use that information to address any questions or issues that come up or to further customize your marketing plan.
When an offer on your home comes in your agent should present it to you in person. He/she will discuss the pros and cons of each offer with you so that you understand the advantages and advantages of each. Remember, your agent's job isn't to make your decisions for you but to help you make good decisions for yourself. Whew. And all this BEFORE the sale!
After you've signed an offer it becomes a contract. Your agent will keep a record of any inspections and financing commitments that are part of your contract and make sure they're completed in a timely fashion. He/she should keep in close contact with you and with the Buyer's agent to make sure any problems are nipped in the bud before they become an issue that could postpone or cancel your closing.
During this time, don't be afraid to call on your agent for help with the move. About two weeks before settlement I give out a list of things my Buyers and Sellers need to remember to do. This way you won't move into your lovely new home without electricity or phone service!
In conclusion, I'll advise Sellers to do the same thing I advise Buyers to do: find an agent you like and trust and one who will truly represent your best interests. Work with them and stick with them unless you feel he/she isn't living up to their end of the listing agreement. If that happens, talk to your agent about what you expect and if you still don't get what you need - check your listing agreement and do whatever's necessary end the relationship and find someone with whom you feel more comfortable.