Ask the Insider
A veteran real estate executive shares tips for finding an agent who will sell your house your way.
By Cybele Weisser

(MONEY Magazine) – Pam O'Connor, CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, oversees a network of 650 firms.

Q What's the most important thing to look for when hiring an agent?

A You want someone with at least three years' experience in your market who does at least 12 transactions a year--that's the average at good companies. Steer away from the top producer, the one plastered all over billboards; you'll typically deal only with her assistants.

Q How do I judge her pricing skills?

A Ask for printouts of her multiple-listing service records from the past year so you can compare her average list price with average sale price and see how long the listings were on the market. You want her average sale price to be at least 90% of the list price. And her time-on-market number should beat the area's average, which you can get from other brokers or the MLS.

Q How can I negotiate a discount?

A Let's face it, every commission is negotiable. But it's up to the individual agent. It never hurts to try. If you offer her the chance to both list your house and find you another, she might give you a deal. Or seek a discount if you're in the top 10% of prices for homes in your area. An agent should always explain exactly what she's going to do for her commission: advertising, website traffic, screening buyers. But the best agents deliver far beyond that. I've seen agents wipe down toilets.