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Home Selling Guide

Hiring an Agent...

With so many real estate agents to choose from, how do you know which one to hire?

These days, it seems like everyone you talk to has either sold real estate in the past, has a current real estate license or knows someone with a real estate license. The fact is, getting a real estate license is easy. In the State of Michigan you only need to take a forty hour class and then pass a fairly easy multiple choice test to be licensed to sell real estate. Once licensed and signed up with a broker a new licensee may then legally represent a client in the sale or purchase of their most valued asset which may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's a pretty scary thought!

If you are like most people, your home is probably one of the biggest investments you have. You wouldn't trust your other major investments to an untrained, inexperienced or part-time stockbroker or banker. Why take a chance with your real estate agent?

First lets start with a few very important things you need to be wary of when interviewing agents...

1 An agent that suggests a high price
At first you may think...great...this agent can get me more money than the other agent(s) could. Let's go back to the old adage...if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

One of two things may be happening here. Either the agent just doesn't know the market or the agent is trying to "buy your listing." That means that they tell you a high price to get you to sign a contract and then keep working on you to drop the price.

So, don't be fooled by agents promising a "High Price". The price is what it is. Your biggest concern should be finding an experienced, full time agent that will give you honest answers and has a great marketing plan.

Close Answer
1 An agent that is vague about how long they have been in real estate
If you ask an agent how long they have been in the business and they simply say..."seems like forever" that agent is probably new in the business. Any agent that has been in the real estate industry for a period of time will happily tell you exactly how long they have been licensed.

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1 Just sign here Mr./Ms. Seller
If you find that you are interviewing a real estate agent and they keep pressuring you to sign, sign,! This is your biggest investment and if the agent is pressuring you now what is it going to be like later? You deserve personal service and an agent that is willing to take some time to work with you...not continually pressure you.

You may not know this but there are professional trainers that teach real estate agents how to use prewritten scripts to overcome every possible objection you, as a seller, could have. Agents that use these scripts can be so smooth you won't even know what hit you. Do you want to be just a number and a paycheck to agents like this?

Steve Hatfield does NOT use pre-written scripts to trick his clients into doing what he wants. His reputation and business has been built on a solid foundation of providing clients with excellent service and honest answers for 20+ years now. With his guidance, Steve's clients are able to make informed decisions and therefore increasing their chances of becoming a successful home seller in today's difficult market.

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1 I will list your home and charge you next to nothing Mr./Ms. Seller
Discount prices often mean discounted services. As with anything else in life you get what you pay for whether you know it now or find out down the road after it is too late.

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1 I will hold your home open and run ads in the newspaper
Ok, so what are you really going to do to market my home? The classified section of the newspaper has dwindled down to next to nothing...and why? Because people don't look through classifieds like they used to. They look online...just like you are looking online for information right now!

As for open around $4.00 a gallon for gas buyers aren't driving around looking for signs and open houses like they used to before the Internet came around. Today's buyers are on the Internet and want to see hundreds of homes with multiple photos and virtual tours in the same amount of time it used to take to find and visit a handful of open houses on a Sunday afternoon.

If the agent you are interviewing hasn't moved into the 21st Century and is still relying on obsolete marketing methods like open houses and newspaper advertising as their primary marketing methods you need to find another agent!

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Now that you have been alerted to some things to look out for, let's move on
to some very important questions you need to ask an agent when interviewing them...
1 How many years have you been selling real estate?
Experience is certainly one of the best indicators of an agent's ability. An agent who has been in the real estate business "full time" for at least 5 years or more should have enough experience to handle most situations. Keep in mind that recent surveys have found that approximately 70-80% of all new real estate licensees "drop out of the business" within the first 2 years.
Steve Hatfield has been a licensed Realtor® servicing clients in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Livonia, Canton, Plymouth, Westland, Garden City, Redford, Northville and Novi since 1987!

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2 Do you sell real estate full time?
An agent that relies on real estate as a full time profession to earn their living will certainly be much more motivated to do whatever it takes to get your property sold. A part time agent will usually have another source of income and is probably selling real estate to supplement that income.

In addition, part time agents usually don't have the time to keep abreast of the ever changing market conditions, local housing inventory or the latest financing options that a prospective buyer may want to use when making an offer on your home.
Since becoming licensed by the State of Michigan in 1987, Steve Hatfield always has been and continues to be, a Full Time professional Realtor®.

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3 Have you had advance real estate training / earned any designations?
While advanced training and real estate industry designations or certifications will not guarantee superior service or better results from an agent, statistics show that real estate agents with advanced training, industry designations and/or certificates are usually more experienced and productive.

A few professional designations and/or certifications to look for are the CRS - Certified Residential Specialist, ABR - Accredited Buyer Representative and the e-PRO - Certified Internet Professional. These designations and certifications require a substantial investment of an agent's time to attain. If you hire an agent with two or more of these designations or certificates it is a good indication that the agent has made a strong commitment to his or her career and clients.

For more information about ABR, CRS and e-PRO be sure to visit the About ABR, CRS, and e-PRO" page on this web site.
Steve Hatfield IS an ABR, CRS and e-PRO certified agent! His clients benefit greatly from the additional knowledge and skills he has obtained from the training required to earn these coveted designations.

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4 How much real estate do you sell per year?
While it is important that the agent you hire sells a reasonable amount of real estate each year, don't be too quick to hire an agent simply because they claim to be "#1" or sell 10's of millions of dollars of real estate each year. While some may be good agents, others may be so busy that you will become just another number to them and ultimately you may not receive the service you deserve.

NOTE: A professional full time real estate agent that has been in the business for four or more years should at a minimum be doing three to six million dollars in business each year.
Steve Hatfield averages between approximately 4-6 Million dollars in home sales a year. A good majority of Steve's business comes from past clients / client referrals which is a testimony to his continued commitment to providing his clients with high quality real estate services.

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6 What will you do to market my home?
Before you hire an agent you need to do your homework and actually look at how they market homes... particularly how they market homes online since this is where the majority of today's home buyers shop for homes.

You'll want to start by checking the quality of the agent's online advertising to be sure that...
  • The agent has their own web site (not just a page on another web site) and is it easily found online
  • Your home will not only be featured with complete information and a virtual tour on the agent's web site but also on GoogleBase, Trelia, CraigsList and other highly trafficked web sites
  • The agent will post multiple photos, a virtual tour and detailed description on
  • The pictures / virtual tours are of a high quality and ad copy is well written
Simply asking an agent if they do virtual tours is not enough because each agent sets their own standard in relation to what they are willing to do, how good they are at it and how good the quality is. Don't settle for anything less that the'll need every advantage in this competitive selling market.

The next things to look at are the quality of print materials available at the house. Some agents simply run off copies of the MLS (multiple listing service) printout for an outside or inside flyer. This will not set your home apart from others the buyer is looking at. Again, you need to have every advantage possible and that means finding an agent that is going to provide you with marketing materials that are professional prepared and will make you stand out from your competition.

The bottom line when it comes to marketing homes to today's buyers is to market to them where they are searching for homes. And, for the most part, they aren't looking in newspapers or going to open houses. They shop online just like you are looking online right now for information about selling a home. You need an agent who is focused, dedicated and has changed with the times. That agent in this area is Steve Hatfield.

For more details about marketing, be sure to click here.

You can view Steve's on-line marketing plan by clicking here.

Be sure you check out this important information... What you need to look for when reviewing an agent's work
Steve Hatfield is very well positioned to capture today's buyers. For over 12 years he has perfected and expanded his online and print marketing. He takes the extra time needed to produce very high quality Virtual Video Tours and print materials so that his clients will have the competitive edge they need in today's market.

Close Answer
8 Are you knowledgeable in the area of mortgage financing?
You may be thinking...why would I care about this as a seller...I am not buying a home, I want to sell one. The sad fact is that many agents don't think that a knowledge of financing is their job. To a certain degree they are correct meaning it is not their job to be financing experts, however, they absolutely need to have some basic knowledge and keep up with mortgage trends in order to do the following...
  • Effectively evaluate an offer on your home and ensure that the type of financing being used by the buyer does not have any catches for you that could cost you additional money later. In other words, protect your interests as a seller.
  • Convert inquiries into viable buyers. For example, there are some first time buyer programs available that might make the difference between a buyer being able to buy your home or not. Will your agent have the knowledge to explore these basic options with someone making an inquiry about your home?
Over the past 20 years, Steve has developed business relationships with some very knowledgeable and experienced mortgage loan providers. They help to keep him abreast of the latest trends so he has the knowledge to represent his clients well and assist buyers with the exploration of different finance options available.

Close Answer
9 Do you have a licensed personal assistant or business partner?
The best scenario for you as a seller is to hire an agent that DOES have a licensed business partner or at the very least, a licensed assistant. Why is this you might ask? Because if you hire one agent that works by themselves and they go out of town, have an emergency or is sick, who will take care of you if an offer comes in, you are trying to close your transaction or have a issue that needs to be resolved quickly? An agent working on their own may ask another agent to cover for them but they may not be as motivated to help you as your own agent.

So, be sure to ask these "what if" questions and again, if you find a great agent that has a partner or licensed is a real bonus for you as a seller!
Steve joined forces with another fully licensed Realtor® in 1994. Vicki, herself a successful Realtor with 20 years experience in the real estate business is extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to providing the very highest level of service possible to all of our clients.

Vicki now coordinates and manages all of the many behind-the-scene details that help attain the goal of a smooth and pleasant real estate transaction for all of our clients. In addition, she spends a great deal of time walking our clients through the home buying/selling process as well as coordinating and creating much of the marketing we do which is a huge job in itself!

Close Answer
10 Some Final Thoughts...
As a savvy home seller, you need to do your homework if you are going to find a great agent to market and sell your home. When you shop for an agent, you'll find many agents that will tell you anything and everything that you want to hear just to get you to sign on the bottom line. Don't fall victim to an agent playing to your need to try to look at the sale of your home as a business transaction.

The fact is that your home is most likely your largest investment so you need to find an honest, trustworthy agent who will be up front with you from day one and truly look out for your interests. That along with an agent who is experienced and offers a focused array of high quality marketing services is what will give you the best chances of becoming a successful home seller in today's competitive market. That agent in this area is Steve Hatfield, ABR, CRS, e-PRO.

Close Answer

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  Steve Hatfield
REALTOR® ABR, CRS, e-PRO Certified
CENTURY 21 Curran & Christie
25636 Ford Road
Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
Office: (313) 274-7200
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Licensed Realtor® Since 1987 (#6501221773)
realtor Accredited Buyer Representative Certified Residential Specialist e-PRO

Steve Hatfield, Realtor® provides professional real estate / home buying services to buyers and sellers in Dearborn Michigan, Dearborn Heights Michigan, the Wayne County MI (Southeast Michigan) communities of Livonia, Canton, Redford, Westland, Garden City, Plymouth, Northville and the Oakland County cities of Farmington / Farmington Hills and Novi Michigan.

Equal Housing OpportunityIn accordance with the law, the properties, real estate services and homes for sale featured on this web site are offered without respect to race, religion, color, creed, national origin, sex, physical limitations / disabilities or familiar status.

REALTOR® is a registered collective membership trademark that identifies a real estate agent / professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict code of ethics.

Century 21 Real Estate Corporation © and sm trademark and servicemark of Century 21 Real Estate Corporation. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each office Independently Owned and Operated.

Copyright © 1996 - Steve Hatfield
Graphics and content may not be reproduced or copied in any way with out written permission from Steve Hatfield.