Five tips to get the most out of your real estate agent

Five tips to get the most out of your real estate agent
Five tips to get the most out of your real estate agent

When you are thinking about selling a property, securing the best real estate agent is a vital consideration – agent choice is often the key difference between a great or mediocre result. So how can you ensure that you not only pick the right agent, but also get the most out of their services?  

Here are my top tips for selecting, and maximising the value of, a real estate agent.    

  • Don’t go with the cheapest agent

It is critical that you don’t make finding the cheapest agent, or the agent that offers you the least amount of advertising, your first priority. Why? Because if an agent can’t negotiate an effective fee for service with you, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to negotiate an effective sale price for your property.  

  • Find a performance-based agent

There is a tendency to believe that agents with many ‘for sale’ signs are the most effective and capable of selling property. However, in this particular context, when perception meets reality, reality often comes off second best. 

The reason for this is that ‘for sale’ signs are predominantly an indicator of an agent’s activity, not their results – an agent may have a large amount of listings, but they might not actually be selling anything.  

Try to keep in mind that a ‘for sale’ sign is initially a sign of success, but after four weeks, it becomes a sign of an agent’s failure to get the job done.  

I would recommend searching for agents that have the most ‘sold’ signs in your area, as these agents will most likely be performance-based as opposed to activity-based.  

Once you’ve identified an agent with a large number of ‘sold’ signs, you may want to consider knocking on the front doors of some their sold properties to ask the owner-occupiers how the selling process went. Doing so will allow you to gain some first-hand insights into the agent’s previous performance, which may help you to decide whether or not the agent is right for you.    

  • Find an agent that treats you like their only client  

It is reasonable to expect that your agent will meet with you on a weekly basis to give updates on all developments relating to your property’s sale – not just in person, but in writing as well.  

Remember – if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen, so make sure that your agent commits up-front to giving you regular written updates.  

If your agent is prepared to document updates, it will not only show that they are serious about the transaction, it will also give you a tangible reference point to make them accountable should they fail to deliver on their undertakings.  

As an extension of this point, I would advise to look for an agent that speaks to you only about your property, and not about how busy they are with everybody else’s. It is relatively safe to assume that if an agent doesn’t give your property adequate attention in your presence, they’ll struggle to do so when you’re not around – so aim to find an agent that treats you like their only client.  

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  • Build an open and honest relationship with your agent

Building an open and honest relationship with your agent is one of the best things you can do in terms of ensuring that the agent’s advice is aligned with your best interests.  

Real estate practitioners are generally very sociable people who want to achieve the best possible outcomes for their clients. The best agents, however, are the ones that give honest and open advice – even when their clients don’t necessarily want to hear it.  

Of course, as a vendor, you want to achieve the best sale price for your property with the minimum outlay possible. However, the worst thing you can do is make your agent feel uncomfortable about managing your price expectations or giving you bad news.  

Your agent needs to feel at liberty to give you honest and accurate information on buyer feedback, market conditions and the like so that you can make a fully informed decision about when to sell, and at what price.    

  • Be flexible with your marketing

There are usually two reasons as to why a property doesn’t sell – either the vendor’s price expectations are too high or the marketing of the property is poor. If you agree to and sign off on a marketing strategy with your selling agent, it is important to hold the agent to delivering that strategy in full.  

In saying that, it is also important to be flexible with your marketing and to adjust your strategy if need be.  

In order to know when flexibility is required, you will need to be able to properly assess whether or not your existing strategy is working. As such, you should aim to meet with your agent during the first one to two weeks of open for inspections to discuss buyer feedback and interest in the property.  

If buyer feedback is poor and interest is low, the agent may recommend that you increase your marketing budget. Though this may not be what you originally agreed upon, I would suggest being open to increasing your marketing spend if your original strategy has proven ineffective. Doing so will likely increase your chances of not only selling, but achieving a strong sale price.  

Charles Tarbey is the chairman and owner of Century 21 Australasia, one of Australasia’s largest and most diverse property groups.  

Charles has been actively involved in the property industry since 1972, and has trained and given advice to thousands of real estate agents, vendors and purchasers. He is also the author of two real estate books, Profit Driven Real Estate and Listing Rich.

This article first appeared on Property Observer in September 2013.

Investor Tips Charles Tarbey

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