How to Form Your Real-Estate Team

By Eric Tyson, Ray Brown

You don’t have to become an expert in property values, mortgages, tax and real estate law, title insurance, escrow, pest-control work, and construction techniques to play the house-selling game well. Instead, you can hire people who’ve already mastered the skills that you lack.

House selling is a team sport. Your job is to lead and coach the team, not play every position. After you assemble a winning team, your players should give you solid advice so you can make brilliant decisions.

If cost were no object, you’d hire every competent expert you could get your hands on. However, because you probably don’t have an unlimited budget, you need to determine which experts are absolutely necessary and which tasks you can handle yourself. In this section, we explain which experts generally are worth hiring and which ones you can pass on. Ultimately, of course, you’re the one who must determine how competent or challenged you feel with the various aspects of the house-selling process.

Here’s an overview of the possible players on your team:

  • Your favorite person: You are the most important player on your team. Sooner or later, another player is bound to drop the ball or fail to satisfy your needs. You have every right to politely, yet forcefully, insist that this person make things right. Remember that you hire the players on your team; they work for you. Bad players may see things the other way around — they want to believe that they’re in charge. They may attempt to manipulate you into acting in their best interests rather than yours. Don’t tolerate this behavior. You’re the boss — you can fire and hire.
  • Real estate agent: Because the house you’re getting ready to sell is probably one of your largest investments, you want to protect your interests by having someone on your team who knows property values. Your agent’s primary mission is to accurately tell you what your house is worth and then negotiate on your behalf to sell it for top dollar.
  • Real estate broker: All states issue two different real estate licenses: one for salespeople (agents) and one for brokers. Real estate brokers must satisfy more stringent educational and experience standards than agents. If your real estate agent isn’t an independent broker or the broker for a real estate office, a broker must supervise the agent. The broker is responsible for everything your agent does or fails to do within the course and scope of the duties of real estate sales professionals. In a crisis, your transaction’s success may depend on backup support from your agent’s broker.
  • Property inspectors: Your house’s physical condition greatly affects its value. Smart buyers will insist on having your house thoroughly inspected from roof to foundation as a condition of the purchase. Don’t passively wait for buyers to give you a copy of their report. Get your house thoroughly inspected before putting it on the market so you know what to expect during any subsequent corrective-work negotiations with the buyer.
  • Escrow officer: Mutual distrust is the underlying rule of many real estate deals. You and the buyer need a neutral third party, an escrow officer, to handle funds and paperwork related to the transaction without playing favorites. The escrow officer is the referee in the game of house selling.
  • Financial and tax advisors: Before selling your house, make sure you understand how the sale (and the purchase of another home, if applicable) fits into your overall financial situation.
  • Lawyer: Whether you need a lawyer on your team depends on three things: the complexity of your contract, the location of your house, and your personal comfort level. As we discuss in Chapter 6, if you decide to sell your house without an agent, you definitely need a lawyer who specializes in real estate law on your team.

The purchase agreement you sign to sell your house is a legally binding contract. If you have any questions about your contract’s legality, put a real estate lawyer on your team.

Each player brings a different skill into the game. Assemble members of a great team, and they can guide you through any situation that may arise during your transaction.

Keep in mind that good players serve as advisors — not decision makers. Decision making is your job. After all, it’s your money on the line.