Top tips for choosing the right real estate agent
Getting top price for your property when you sell starts with picking the right agent to help you. Property professor and author Peter Koulizos reveals his top tips for choosing the best person for the job.
As the saying goes, some things are worth paying for. And unless you have extensive experience in the area of selling property, enlisting the services of a real estate agent is one of them.
Generally speaking, using an agent is a simpler and safer way to sell a property.
While this is an additional expense, it’s tax deductible (if it’s an investment property) and can save you a lot of time and hassle.
However, it is important to pick the right agent or you may end up wishing you had done it yourself!
So how do you pick the right real estate agent for you and your property?
1. Look locally
Begin the selection process within the local area because a sound understanding of the local market is essential to selling a property. It allows insight into timing, pricing and even marketing techniques.
Don’t compromise local knowledge for a more well-known agent or even one recommended by a friend, if they are located on the other side of the city.
While they may have been a fantastic choice for your friend, agents that specialise in the eastern suburbs market won’t have as much knowledge and expertise as an agent who is based in the southern or western areas for example.
2. Word of mouth
Word of mouth in the local area can be a great first step to finding a real estate sales agent.
If that doesn’t prove helpful or if you want to make sure you get the best agent, do a Google search of agents in the area and start making a list.
3. Check the real estate agent’s sales record
Look at the sales records of the agents in your area. Certainly take note of their listings but also dig deeper into their sales history.
While it’s a good sign to have a number of properties listed, be sure to check that the agent can actually sell them.
4. Look at how fast the agent sells a property
Do some further research and see if any patterns arise in regard to the number of days the property was on the market and the agent’s clearance rates. Compare the advertised price guide to the actual sale price and see if particular agents seem to keep falling short of the advertised price.
It’s also important to differentiate between agency sales and individual salesperson/agent sales.
5. Attend open inspections
Once you have a few potential real estate agents in mind, go to some of their open inspections. This allows you to be a mystery shopper of sorts and observe their selling techniques and also meet them in a more relaxed context.
Take note of how they welcome people and talk to them.
Are they polite and helpful or detached and indifferent? This is important because it will be the first impression a potential buyer gets of the house.
6. Ask questions about the property
Take it one step further and ask some questions about the property because that will give you an idea of how much the agent has bothered to learn about the house.
Keep an ear out for remarks they make to yourself and other inspectors and ensure they’re acting in the best interests of the vendor, as that may end up being you.
7. Short-list the potential agents
Once you have short-listed a handful of agents, call them. A few won’t call back which will straight away narrow the list further and you may decide over the phone that a few aren’t quite what you are looking for.
8. Be clear about how you want your real estate agent to run the show
Before you make the calls, determine what kind of client you want to be and relay that to the agent to see if they’re able to work with your request.
For example, if you want to be kept updated at every step along the way, let them know that. On the other hand, you may wish to have as little to do with the selling process as possible and don’t need the agent to run you past all the details.
9. Request an appraisal
Of the remaining potential agents, request an appraisal. An appraisal is an estimated selling price for the property and should be free of charge.
The results may vary so make sure the agent can justify their figure. Some may come back with a higher price but this doesn’t necessarily make them the best agent because the price they’ve set may be unattainable and it sets you up with unrealistic expectations.
10. Ask the real estate agent about their strategy on getting the best price for your property
Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their selling technique. Will they auction the property or sell it by private treaty? Will there be expressions of interest? How often will they conduct open inspections?
11. Negotiate commissions
You can certainly haggle but be wary that a lower commission should not be your main selection criteria. Remember the old saying, “If you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys”.
12. Trust your instinct
Finally, don’t ignore your gut feeling. If you have a particularly good or bad feeling about an agent, don’t discard that because it can come in handy in conjunction with other selection criteria when making your final decision.
Selling property can be hard work and it is complicated. Unless you are familiar with real estate and the sales process, you should consider finding the right agent to sell your property.
Peter Koulizos, property lecturer and author – www.thepropertyprofessor.com.au