Why Don't You Use the Agent Who Sold You the House?

using the agent who sold you the house to sell
Sometimes it can be a good idea to use your old buyer's agent when you sell. © Big Stock Photo

The last consideration on the minds of many sellers about to embark into the home selling process is to hire a listing agent. You would think that the agent who sold them the house would be their first choice, but that agent is not always the first choice and not always the wisest choice, either. Why? To start with, many sellers don't even recall the name of the agent who sold them the house.

Unless that former buyer's agent, for example, stayed in touch with the buyers over the years, the name of an agent tends to slip away.

The seller might not recall the name of the brokerage much less the agent. Especially if the purchase took place more than 7 years ago. You might more easily remember the name of the kid who kicked the back of your chair in 6th grade than you can name the agent who sold you a house.

This is the main reason that many real estate agents try to form relationships with their buyers "for life." They don't want the client to hire another agent when it comes time to sell, and eventually it will come time to sell. They want the client to call them. The way to ensure that will occur is for the agent to continually send newsletters, holidays cards, recipes, magazines or postcards and to stay in touch via email and Facebook or other social media.

A proposed seller from a popular website -- who was not actually on title to the home he wanted to sell -- once sent me an email to say he was hoping to hire the listing agent who promised to sell his girlfriend's home at the highest price.

He asked me to prepare a comparative market analysis. His girlfriend's home had been on the market for almost 4 months before she bought it, in a market in which homes sold on average in 14 days. This meant it was probably a difficult home to sell. More important, though, his girlfriend bought the home within the past few months and therefore had acquired zero equity.

In the nicest way possible, I let him know that picking an agent based on a suggested sales price was the wrong way to choose a listing agent, and I listed all the reasons why. Then, I suggested he go back to the agent who sold him the home and ask her about listing it. I figured it was better to let somebody with whom he had a previous working relationship break the news to him. Instead, he was very angry with my suggestion, so it's a good thing it ended there.

My point is many people have no idea how to sell a home much less how to find a listing agent. They have ideas, based on things they've heard, some of which are wrong 10 ways from Sunday, or other ideas that could be outdated or ill suited to their marketplace. It's really better to go to an agent with experience. The agent who sold you the home might very well have that experience, especially if he or she is still active in real estate all these years later. Real estate has a high turnover rate among agents, and many do not survive past the 3- or 4-year mark.

Reasons to Hire the Agent Who Sold You the House as Your Listing Agent

Some of the reasons you might want to hire the agent who sold you the house are as follows:

  • You already know the agent and like the agent's personality.
  • The agent is still in the business years later.
  • The agent is experienced and understands your quirks (we all have quirks).
  • The agent knows the home and most likely remembers its benefits and drawbacks.

Reasons Not to Use the Agent Who Sold You the House

Obviously, there are a few reasons why a seller might not want to choose to hire the agent who originally sold the home. Following are a few:

  • Perhaps your transaction was handled poorly, which resulted in leaving a bad taste in your mouth, and you wouldn't hire that agent if that person was the last licensed agent on the face of the earth.
  • The agent does not possess enough experience in listing homes and / or primarily works with buyers.
  • The agent has moved away or left the business.
  • You were referred to an exceptional agent with an impressive track record that pales when compared to your previous agent.

    None of this takes into consideration the sales price or the commission which, believe it or not, might be pretty much immaterial. All homes tend to conform to market conditions to sell. The comparable sales reveal most of the story. The extraordinary agents who earn top fees are often worth it because that type of service is reflected in not only consumer satisfaction but seller's bottom-line net. That is not to say that all full-service agents who charge top dollar are excellent by any stretch. You may still need to check referrals, production and reviews.

    At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.