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How to Choose a Listing Agent

Real Estate Pictures Choosing the right listing agent can make or break the sale of your home. See more pictures of real estate.
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Trying to sell a house can be a huge undertaking. Especially in a slow real estate market, you can't simply put a "for sale" sign in the front yard and expect eager buyers to come knocking down your door with offers. Selling a house quickly and getting the best price takes marketing and sales know-how. A listing agent can bring that expertise to the table and help you get the best possible price for your house, whether it's a five bedroom behemoth or a tiny bungalow.

Listing agents are real estate agents who specialize in selling houses. Among other duties, they will attract potential buyers through print and Web advertising, hold viewings to show off the property, present you with offers, and help you negotiate with buyers and close a deal. Some homeowners decide to sell without the assistance of an agent, a process known as "for sale by owner." But according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes sold with the assistance of a listing agent sell for 3 to 11 percent more than homes sold "by owner" [source: Riddle]. Agents do charge a commission for their services, typically 5 to 6 percent of the final sale price.

An experienced listing agent can simplify the home selling process by taking the brunt of the work off your shoulders, and increasing exposure to the listing for your home. They have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a database of current listings for sale that can help attract buyers and their agents. Their marketing skills and contacts within the real estate business can also attract buyers who normally wouldn't stumble across your house and give it a second look.

With so many agents to choose from, and with so many agents hungry to get your listing, selecting the right agent for your property can be a daunting task. Read on to find out how to find the right listing agent.