How to ace listing interviews

Mike Shannon

By Toby Welch

Before knocking on the door at a listing presentation, take a moment to put yourself in your potential client’s shoes. Selling a house is a nerve-wracking experience for most people. Be prepared when you show up for the interview.

Mike Shannon, a Realtor with Royal LePage Sunshine Coast in Gibsons, B.C., has done about 500 listing presentations and evaluations since 2000. Regardless of whether he is in competition with other sales reps or is the only Realtor vying for a listing, he does the same thing. “I believe more than anything else that the seller must hear the truth. I refuse to increase the evaluation amount just to win the listing (‘buying a listing’). The three words that I always have in my head are ‘honesty, integrity and professionalism.’ I base my ads around these words. As a result I have likely lost a lot of listings to Realtors who don’t.”

Wayne Paradis of Re/Max River City in Edmonton guesses that he has attended 400 to 500 listing presentations in his 26 years in the industry.

“I make sure I am prepared and in the right state of mind before entering the home. I know what I want to say and am ready to adjust if I can’t direct the conversation in the format I intended,” he says. “Demonstrating knowledge and neighbourhood expertise goes a long way in winning the confidence of a seller and a half hour review before that appointment can make the difference if you get questioned during the appointment. If the seller will tell me, I like to know who I am competing against and try as often as I can to be the last Realtor to be seen. Don’t ever knock your competition but don’t be afraid to outshine them. You only have one chance at making a good impression and these are the most important appointments you have as a Realtor, so don’t take them lightly.”

To increase your chances of landing the listing, know the answers to the following questions so you’ll be prepared when interviewees ask them:

* How long have you been selling real estate?

* How many homes did you sell last year?

* Are you a full-time agent?

* Is it the right time to sell?

* Do you work solo or as part of a team?

* How do you price a home?

* For the homes you listed in the past year, what was the average number of days they spent on the market?

* For the just mentioned list of homes, what was the average difference between the listing price and the selling price?

* How do you market the homes you list?

* Do you do any social media marketing?

* How do you use the Internet?

* Do you offer virtual tours of listed homes?

* What websites will you use to advertise the home?

* Do you have a website?

* Do you have a feedback system for potential buyers and their Realtors?

* Before you list a house, do you give clients ideas on how to make their home more marketable?

* When you’ve listed a home, how do you report back to your sellers regarding activity on the property?

* Do you have access to other professionals that clients need during the selling process?

* How do you handle negotiations?

* Do you attend inspections and appraisals after an offer is in place?

* How much do you charge?

* Will I have to pay any hidden costs?

* How accessible are you?

* How does it benefit a client if he uses you to sell?

* Why should someone list with you over other Realtors in the area?

* How much professional training do you get every year?

* If a client is unhappy with your service, can he terminate your contract and the listing?

* Do you have a list of references for potential clients?

* What are your thoughts on the real estate market today?

* What else should a client ask you that he hasn’t already asked?

Wayne Paradis

People will forget most of the information you provide them with verbally, so consider taking a listing presentation packet that answers all the questions you anticipate will be asked. Tailor each packet to the home’s neighbourhood. The potential clients will appreciate having it to look over when they are making their decision. Spend some time working on the layout (or hire someone to do it) so the pride in your work comes through. Use more visuals than words.

Shannon offers advice for a Realtor who is nervous about a listing presentation: “Just be yourself. Tell the truth. Be prepared and study the past comparable sales and the current available listings. Know the current market conditions. Relax and be friendly. What goes around comes around.”

Paradis adds: “New Realtors have far more tools from the get-go than most of us had when we started a few decades ago, starting with their education in real estate and the technology available to us. There is no excuse not to be knowledgeable, so if I were to emphasize anything it would be to come prepared and to polish your presentation materials and verbiage with the intention of impressing that seller. Rehearse what you want to say in front of a mirror if that helps.  In time you will be able to adapt to any situation and answer objections with ease. Experience isn’t always the deciding factor.

“Sometimes eagerness and likability is just as important to a seller and you can win over a seller who is concerned with your being new if they know you are committed to getting the job done for them. This is a people business and your goal should be to win their confidence by being yourself as well as a professional. Each time it gets easier and don’t be discouraged with the losses; learn from them and use those experiences to polish yourself,” says Paradis.


  1. Keep practicing. We use the term 'listing presentation' when really, they are all first time job interviews. They want to you have what it takes, to be my Realtor? Plan your work and work your plan. I'm still making sure I am trying to increase my knowledge in my market area, every day…and have done so for nearly 30 years. This is a great career.

  2. Great comments . We can compete with the $200 listing as the amount of efforts involved makes a huge difference in the eye of the Seller. They are able to make a distinction quicky.

  3. Great questions and thanks for sharing. This is a great tool for someone just starting out. I plan to bring on a couple of realtors in the new year to work with me and my son. I like the old saying " People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" ,Maya Angelou

  4. Good article Toby, and good 'on target' comments by Mike and Wayne.

    When we can say the right things, in the right way, and at the right time, we can find more listing opportunities, turn more appointments into good listings that are priced right, commissioned right, staged right, and sell fast at the hightest current value. The client wins and the agent gets a commission and the best chance for ongoing referrals.

    Jerry Bresser

  5. Robert,
    I'm new to real estate (Melville, SK) and have had a very successful first year, having only started in Feb.2011. I think it's true when Wayne Paradis writes that experience isn't always the deciding factor when sellers are looking for an agent to work with. I tell the clients I work with that this is indeed my first year, that I have a fantastic team of 30+ other agents on my team that can help me and that what I may lack in experience I make up for in enthusiasm and knowledge. The only way to generate word of mouth advertising and long term relationships with clients is to do my job well. It just takes that first listing, and if done well, word will quickly spread. Good luck!

  6. This is a great list of questions. As a person who has only done one listing appointment that I lost to the competition the following question is hard to answer well because I have no history of sales. "Why should someone list with you over other Realtors in the area?" There are a very large number of agents where I live (Greater Toronto area). I would like to hear from other agents who are still looking or have just recently got their first listing.

    • Hi Robert, I am 3/4 years into the business and at the start I really focused on the level of customer service i could provide. You might be new and need experience but you make sure that you treat each and every client as gold and service them better than most could.

      look into getting a very sharp presentation on your laptop, check out for theirs.

      practice the presentation and eventually you'll find it in your own voice.

      give them the list above and know how you are going to answer.

      If you have not done many sales, focus on your office's achievements.

      Also, get to know a neighbourhood. Goto all listings that come out, you'll get a feel for what the properties are worth when they so sell.

      knock on doors, do calls, all these will start to give you a great confidence in a very short time.

      hope this helps.

  7. Excellent advice.
    However, I have found that in the " real " realestate world there are too many agents that are unethical, use misleading marketing gimmicks, " buy " listings and " sell short ".
    Perhaps these are a few of the reasons why the Competition Bureau was attracted to the Industry and we find ourselves in the position of competing with discount agents who list homes on the mls, the best marketing tool the Industry has, for as little as $ 100-$200 and permit Sellers to retain " Sellers Rights " .

    • The reality is that most agents ask the same questions and give the same answers. The difference between agents is that some say what they do , then do something different. There are agents that don't practice what they preach.
      It's a competitive world and tough business. Personality should make a difference as a sales representative, unfortunatly money talks.
      I'm in agreement with the above, we can't compete against $ 200 listings.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here