For non-seasoned real estate agents who want to represent the seller and get listings, just how do you get to the point of contract signing? How do you get to represent the seller? You must earn the seller’s trust by showing your expertise, honesty and competency.

Try these 12 steps to nail the listing from appointment to contract signing. While these are tried and true steps to get a listing, you can also use your creativity and play more to the individual seller. Keep in mind that as a general rule, sellers over age 45 prefer paper listing presentations as opposed to those under 35 and under who would much prefer interactive digital presentations. Now go out and get that listing.

  1. Contact seller. You may contact sellers through paid for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) lists or just by driving around and seeing what property sale signs say FSBO. If a property has been on the market for a while, the seller may now want to enlist the help of an agent rather than going it alone. You can also work the expired listings strategy, which has gotten me quite a few listings, where you generate and print a report from the MLS early each morning noting what listings have expired and then call the sellers to see if they have relisted with their agent or are searching for a new agent. As this is often a competitive market, call as early as possible or go to their house and leave an informative package on their door. You can also generate a mailing list of homeowners in certain areas you know well or of a certain profession you may already have contacts in. Always use your sphere of influence – people you already know, such as friends, business associates, neighbors, relatives – who can refer you to others whenever possible.
  2. Set a listing appointment with the seller and do a prelisting interview over the phone, which should include getting information on:
    • Property address
    • Names on the mortgage or title and how much owed if still mortgaged
    • Date seller needs to move by and plans for moving (how, where, why)
    • What amount does the seller need to net from the property sale
    • When property will be ready to sell
    • If any work needs to be done on the property
    • Type of property and if owner-occupied or rental
    • Ask how many bedrooms/bathroom and if there were any changes to the property since they bought it (this is important, especially if the changes were made without a permit)
    • Number of real estate agents being interviewed
    • If you could be the last one interviewed (by then, the seller will usually have made up their mind)
  3. Drive to the property and take a few photos.
  4. Research the property, along with area MLS listings, soon after you set the appointment.
  5. Send out or hand deliver a prelisting package or email link to a greeting/prelisting video directly to the seller on the same day you set the appointment or the next day if necessary. Include a photo or two that you just took. Don’t delay on this step, as you want to prove to the seller that you are quick and responsive in your business dealings. This is your marketing advantage and the package should include a standard blank agency agreement and listing contract for review. Start making yourself familiar to the seller prior to the listing presentation appointment. Watch this video for ideas on what makes a great prelisting package to have a leg up on the competition, as it is rare when the seller does not interview a few agents before making a final decision on the agent who will get their listing:
  6. Call to confirm the listing appointment and make sure all those on the mortgage or title will be present a few days before the appointment. Ask if the prelisting package was received. If it wasn’t received, ask where you can hand deliver. Then, print another copy and get it the seller right away. Some sellers may prefer you email it, so always have a digital copy prepared and be ready to quickly send it off.
  7. Create a digital or paper listing presentation that should contain the following profession-looking items to appeal to sellers of various price ranges:
    • Comparative market analysis (CMA) showing pricing range and approximate net to seller. This is what the seller really wants to know about. If you need to see the entire property first, you can create a broad price range and fine-tune it after you view and discuss the property with the seller.
    • MLS historic printout of the property address (available only if sold using the MLS in the past)
    • Tax assessor records, usually found through the MLS
    • Flood zone information
    • Schools in the area
    • Public transportation, post office and grocery stores nearby
    • Distance to businesses and entertainment
    • Statistics on your sales in an easy-to-follow table format — average days on the market, percentage of average price sold versus listing price, number of transactions completed (count both buyer and seller sides of the transaction). Of course, if you are just starting out, you won’t have any numbers, so use your brokerage firm’s stats. Ask your broker to help you prepare them using data in the area where the property is located.
    • Specifics on how you plan to market the property and why
    • Play up all you and your company have to offer the seller in services and knowledge (even if collective knowledge)
  8. Pick up the phone a few hours before the appointment and call the seller to make certain nothing has changed and the listing appointment is still on. Ask if they have any questions that can’t wait until you meet with them to show your helpfulness.
  9. Go to the listing appointment, which should always be at the seller’s property to be sold, a few minutes early (not too early and never late). Bring a copy of the prelisting presentation sent earlier and one or two copies of the listing presentation you prepared just for this meeting. Some agents like to do an interactive listing presentation from their laptop, which is especially useful when dealing with younger sellers more familiar with technology.
  10. Greet the sellers, take a tour of the house, ask a few questions, snap photos on your phone and write notes before launching into the listing presentation.
  11. Get to your listing presentation, usually done around a table (kitchen, living room, dining room, home office) for easier discussions and blend in what you just learned about the seller and the house to show you pay attention to detail, listen and are confident. Let the seller know what’s in it for them, as that’s what they really want to hear. Tell a story that’s true and the seller’s will love.
  12. Complete and sign the listing contract (also known as agreement), if your presentation wins out, but not before going over the agency agreement. Both should have been included in the prelisting package, so the seller will be familiar with them. Don’t forget to negotiate the total commission and commission paid to cooperating brokers before writing those percentages in the contract. If the seller is still entertaining other agents before deciding who to use, state a closing piece and ask when they expect to make a decision. Call them back on the date stated to attempt to win them over if they are still deciding.