Finding the right agent to sell your home

Finding the right agent to sell your home
Finding the right agent to sell your home

GUEST OBSERVATION

Big claims, gimmicks or huge billboards don’t mean an agent is the best in the business. You need to choose an agent who is not only a great sales person but also someone who you trust with your most expensive asset.

If it feels like you’re conducting a rigorous job interview process, you’re probably searching for an agent in the right way. Choosing the right person will not only deliver the best result for your hip pocket, but it will smooth out what has the potential to be a very stressful process.

It’s a given that agents should be professional and committed to impressing you. Before choosing your agent, make sure you dig a little deeper – investigate their reputation. Ask around to see how potential agents have been with previous clients. After all, it’s the best indicator of how they’re likely to service you.

Try to get a sense of how you fit into the agent’s big picture. This will help you identify their strengths and, potentially, their limitations in selling your property. If your property seems out of step with the rest of their market, you might be better off elsewhere.

Knowledge is power – Get researching

At first, the abundance of information online can seem overwhelming. Approach it systematically, starting with a broad search of agencies and agents in your area. Once you have a shortlist, search their websites, blogs and client reviews. From there, you will be able to narrow it down to a manageable number of preferred real estate agents.

You’ll be surprised at how a little research will go a long way to bring you up to speed, giving you the confidence to meet your chosen agents.

Expect to meet with the agent at your own property. As well as meeting with you, it is a chance to for them to appraise the house. Keep in mind that this service is free and you are not obligated to engage the agent even if they have visited your home.

To get the most out of these meetings, have a few questions in mind:

  1. Ask the agent to outline their experience – years in the business - specifically how long they have worked in the area, how many properties they sold last year – similar ones, and what are their best skills?

    In this industry, experience definitely counts – but that doesn’t mean that the agent who has been around the longest is best for you. You are looking for someone who has had enough experience to handle all aspects of the sale and who is motivated to find a buyer.

  2. How many properties do you currently have listed? What properties have you recently sold? How many prospective buyers approach you each month?  

    Agents will often have a type of property that they are best at selling, due to their location, experience and personal preferences. Let the agent do the work for you, draw on their experience and networks by selecting someone who specialises in your type of property. It is logical to have an agent who has sold a good number of properties similar to yours in the past year.

  3. Do you have any buyers that missed out who might be interested in my property?

    Real estate is about relationships. Ask your agent if they have a database of clients who have missed out on previous sales. They might already have a few clients in mind who may be interested in your property.

  4. What do you think my property is worth? How did you arrive at that figure?

    Avoid the trap of choosing an agent who suggests an unrealistically high value. Ask the agent to support their estimates with evidence of recent sales of similar properties in your area.

  5. How much will I need to spend on advertising? What will I get for it?

    Advertising must be targeted and tailored to suit each individual. Ask the agent to explain their advertising recommendations. Have a look at how similar properties are marketed in your area. Online advertising is important but other forms such as print media are also useful. Traditional advertising such as signboards and newspapers can sometimes be appropriate and add value.

    Good advertising attracts more enquires from buyers about a property. This can both speed up the sale process and create greater competition, ultimately driving a higher price for the vendor.

  6. How long will it take to sell my property?

    While you aren't expecting the exact number of days it will take to sell your property, you are looking for their insight into the current market and the factors impacting the selling process.

  7. How much do you charge?  

    The deregulation of agents’ fees means they are negotiable. In discussing charges, you aren't necessarily looking for the cheapest agent, but finding out what is included in their fees and what is the norm. Fee structures vary from set percentages to incentive based formulas. You are seeking a skilled negotiator and value for money. A good agent will confidently justify their price and will be well worth it!

    Commission levels vary widely depending on location and state. Keep in mind that there are other ways to negotiate the fee structures.

Lastly, contact some of the agent's past clients. A good real estate agent will happily supply you with a list of references. Be sure to ask references what they liked about the agent and if they secured the desired sale price.

Campbell Cooney is director of Hodges Real Estate

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