It is important for you, the seller, to find an agent who has a personality and approach you feel comfortable with. I am also a great believer in using a local agent who knows your area. Agents from outside the area are more likely, I believe, to undersell a property as they have less interest in maintaining local property values.
Like lawyers and schoolteachers, real estate agents come in different shapes and sizes. Some are loud and brash, others are quieter and more methodical. Some are more physically attractive and some are more community spirited.
I believe the three most important qualities when considering which agent to engage are:
1. Trust. This is the most important element in the relationship of the seller with their agent. And it is also important that buyers trust your agent – bluster and arrogance can work against you in negotiations.
2. Selling Skills – your agent needs to be able to deal professionally with buyers and get the job done to your satisfaction. This includes regular communication with you and attention to detail with the small things.
3. Negotiation skills – your agent needs to be able and willing to work on your behalf to get you the best price. Some agents are more concerned with turnover – getting the deal done and moving onto the next one rather than with working to achieve the best price for their sellers. If you’re considering using the same agent that sold you the property you’re in, ask yourself this question – how much more would you have paid for the property when you bought it? If they didn’t squeeze the last drop from you, they may not work well for you as a seller.
Will a high profile agent do a better job for you than an agent that sells fewer properties or is lower profile? Not necessarily. Buyers don’t care who they buy their new home from. So the best agent is the one who can most effectively target buyers and then negotiate the price. If an agent has lots of listings they naturally will have less time for your property, they may delegate to less experienced assistants, and they’ll be under pressure to get a sale so they can move onto their next listing.
Use a local agent. Local agents have an interest in maintaining high prices for the area, they know more buyers active in the area, and they know how to sell the area.
Also beware the agent who promises to “get you the price you want”. At the end of the day, the market and your property will determine what price you’ll get, so agents that promise to get you $50,000 or $100,000 than other agents are only saying this to win the listing.
If you want to deal with your agent personally, you might need to consider an agent who has fewer listings, one who will devote more time to getting you the best price.
Some ways to check out an agent are:
1. Ask friends or family about their specific selling experience. Don’t rely on second hand comments.
2. Study the track record of three local specialist agents for the last six months. Which have the best track record in terms of prices achieved for your type of property?
3. Check out the agent’s testimonials. Check out www.ratemyagent.com.au which shows testimonials and performance measures.
4. Ask your three agents for two phone numbers of several recent seller clients. Ask these clients how the process was handled by the agent and the outcome.
5. Interview three local agents. By inviting them to your home, you’ll get a chance to see how they perform, hear their suggestions on presenting your home, and obtain an indication of the potential market price for your property.
Note: Real estate agents are usually highly skilled at interviewing techniques, and you may find the agent will turn the discussion into an interview about you. That’s okay, just make sure you get your questions answered properly.
Some agents invited to a meeting will phone you up beforehand to ask additional information. Or they may drop off information for you (a “pre-listing kit”) to read prior to the meeting. These are methods that agents use to try to build their relationship with you.
Take the agent on a tour of the house first, then sit down at the dining table to keep it business like. Have your questions written out. Here are some suggested questions you might use to find out more about the agent.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AN AGENT
1. How many properties have you sold in the last six months? Tell me about one of those sales that had a great outcome. Ask about marketing, how did they handle the negotiation stage, what other factors influenced the outcome.
2. How could my house be better presented to the market?
3. Tell me about a difficult client. What happened? How did you respond?
4. How is the market performing at the moment? How is (your suburb) performing compared with the rest of Brisbane.
5. Do you use a personal assistant? Who would be handling my listing on a day to day basis, you or your assistant? Would you be attending all the open homes yourself?
6. What approach do you have to open homes/inspections and follow up of buyers? What sort of reports or feedback do you give me after open homes and inspections?
7. What price range would my house be in – high and low? What evidence do you have to justify this price range?
Note: Some agents will try to avoid giving you an exact number here, or they’ll reply “Well, what price are you hoping to achieve?” They do this because they are worried if they say a low number they’ll be shown the door, and if they say a high number they’ll lack credibility. You should persist in getting at least an estimated range from the agent before you tell them what you think.
Beware the agent that offers a very high selling price – they are probably just trying to “buy” your listing by overpromising. And they will probably under-deliver later. Make sure they show you their analysis of other comparable sales and on market properties as evidence.