In New York State, a broker must be licensed. A broker cannot collect a commission fee unless currently licensed.
Will you be dealing with an agent or a broker?
Most often, sellers deal with an agent. Be aware that agents cannot negotiate a commission without the consent of a broker.
What is the broker's commission rate and fees?
Broker commission rates vary and may be reduced as the property's price increases. Some brokers may be willing to accept a flat fee. Know what you want to pay before negotiating. Never pay money up front.
Is the broker full time or part time?
You may not be able to get the attention you need from a part time broker or agent. Make sure that you get the exposure you want.
What does the broker estimate the value of your home to be?
Beware of brokers who offer a high listing price, they may just be using it to get your business and then lower the price later. Ask the broker for a printout of all recent selling prices and original listing prices of homes in your area.
Is the receipt of commission based on closing the sale and receipt of purchase price?
You should be sure that the commission agreement states that the commission is payable only if the sale closes and you receive the purchase price. Be sure that the agreement is in writing and made when you hire the broker.
What happens if YOU find a buyer for your home?
Some broker agreements will still require the payment of a commission, even though you found a buyer for your home. This may be an item that is negotiable in the broker agreement.
How long will your contract be active?
The broker may consider a contract for 90 days or less, as opposed to the more common exclusive contracts which last 6 or more months. Pay attention to the length of time you must wait to hire another broker.
Is the broker familiar with your neighborhood?
The broker should be aware of the sales in your neighborhood and other defining features such as tax rates and information about your school district.
How often will the broker show your home, host open houses and advertise the sale of your home?
You want maximum publicity for your sale property; make sure you get it. Ask if your home will be listed on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and in both premium and free listings.
Additional resources provided by the author
Shop around and interview as many brokers as you feel necessary. As in any other business, there are good and not so good real estate brokers and agents. Remember to GET IT ALL IN WRITING, no verbal promises. It is a good idea to speak to a qualified real estate attorney before signing a commission agreement or binder with a broker.