Seller's Real Estate Agent Responsibilities - Continued

Editor's note: This is the continuation of a two-part series on choosing a seller's real estate agent. On this page, we will continue discussing the key responsibilities of a seller's agent. I recommend that you start at the beginning of this tutorial.

(This section picks up with responsibilities 9 - 15. The first part of the article explains responsibilities 1 - 8.)

9. Putting a lockbox on your door for buyers' agents.

The lockbox has been an essential real estate tool for decades, though they've gotten much more advanced over the years. Today, most lockboxes are electronic. The buyer's agent can use his or her smart phone to open the lock.

Your house key goes inside the box. This gives other agents a way to let their buyers into the home, without you having to be present. They schedule a visit. You get out of the way. And the lockbox gives them access. They would then lock up on the way out, to keep your home secure. Make sure your seller's agent has access to lockboxes.

10. Coordinating visits / showings with buyers and their agents.

A real estate seller's agent will generally handle this responsibility for you, as well. The buyers will schedule a visit by having their agent contact yours. But sometimes, this can become overly complicated. If the buyers have to schedule a visit with your agent, who then has to clear it with you, it just adds an extra link in the chain of communication. It might be easiest to have the buyers' agents contact you directly. It's certainly more efficient this way. There are different ways to handle it.

The key is to discuss it with the seller's agent in advance, so you are both on the same page. You need a plan for handling phone calls.

11. Making sure buyers have financing lined up.

There's nothing worse than leaving your house for a buyer who hasn't even spoken to a lender yet. It's a waste of everyone's time. You only want qualified buyers to visit your home. These are people who have been pre-approved by a mortgage lender for a sufficient amount, or else have enough money to pay cash for the home. Either way, you want to ensure buyers have some form of financing lined up.

This is another one of the key responsibilities for a real estate seller's agent. You should not have to do this. Your agent should handle it for you. He or she should shield you from "lookie-loos" and unqualified buyers. Just be sure to ask about this, when you're going through your list of questions.

12. Holding an open house, if there's enough market activity.

The open house has become something of a dinosaur in the real estate world. This has to do with the slow housing markets we've been seeing, ever since the housing crisis began in 2008.

Some seller's agents simply refuse to hold open houses, due to a lack of buyer activity. So they end up sitting around the house all day with maybe one or two visitors -- or no visitors at all. Instead, they often choose to put a lockbox on the door, so the buyers and their agents can come on their own. It's one more thing to ask about at your first meeting.

13. Presenting offers from buyers.

The real estate seller's agent is also responsible for accepting offers from potential buyers, and presenting those offers to the seller. More importantly, your agent should help you put the offer into perspective.

The buyer's offer might include the following components:

  • The exact amount they are offering for your house
  • The amount of earnest money they are paying
  • The desired closing / settlement date.
  • Any contingencies requested by the buyer (like a home inspection contingency)

The seller's real estate agent should explain each of these items. He or she should help you determine if the offer price is reasonable, based on the current market value of your home. At this stage, you need to remember that it's called an "asking price" for a reason. Be flexible and realistic. You don't want to lose a qualified buyer just because they're offering a little less than your asking price.

You should also consider the type of real estate market you are in. Are you in a slow market, where homes take a long time to sell? If so, you'll need to be even more flexible with the price. If you're in a buyer's market where homes are selling fast, you'll have more leverage when it comes to the price.

A real estate seller's agent will put these things into perspective for you, to help you make an informed and logical decision. This is where their experience becomes invaluable.

14. Negotiating with buyers on your behalf.

This is a key responsibility for the seller's real estate agent. When a buyer presents an offer, you basically have three choices:

  • You can accept the offer, as presented.
  • You can reject the offer with no counter.
  • You can make a counteroffer.

Your agent will communicate your decision to the buyers, through their agent. If you've made a counteroffer back to the buyers, they have the same three choices mentioned above. They can accept your counter, make another counteroffer, or reject it and walk away from the deal.

A good seller's agent will explain why you have made a certain counteroffer. Maybe your home has certain unique features that add value, above and beyond the comparable sales in the area. Maybe the buyers made an offer that was much lower than those comps. Either way, your real estate agent should be communicating the reasons for your decision. It's one of their core responsibilities.

15. Attending the closing / settlement process, if applicable.

Closing / settlement is the final step in the home-buying process. This is when ownership of the property is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer. In the eastern part of the U.S., it is usually referred to as "settlement." In the western part of the country, it's usually called "closing."

In the east, the buyers' and sellers' real estate agents typically attend the settlement with their clients. In the west, the buyers and sellers usually attend closing on their own (and individually from one another). So depending on where you live, there is a chance the real estate seller's agent will attend this process with you.

This article explains the primary responsibilities of a seller's agent. If you missed the beginning of this article, you can go back and read it here.