Real Estate Agents: How to spot the right property sales agent
Selling your property can be an emotional experience, especially if you have a lot of memories from your time there. It's where you had your first dinner party, celebrated your first promotion, and started your business venture. This is why, when it comes to getting a good deal with your real estate sale, you can benefit from using independent experts like real estate agents. Below are our top tips for finding your best real estate agent.
Homecoming: A special report
Buying a home is likely to be the biggest purchase of your life. Which is why we’ve done a deep dive into ALL you need to know. Follow our four-part series here:
|Part two: Close to home: How the government can help you buy a house anywhere in Australia|
|Part three: Buying a home: Budget for all the extras, not just the house|
|Part four: Home buyers tips: From search to sold|
Do you need a real estate agent to sell?
Getting a property lawyer and conveyancer are non-negotiables. There are a lot of requirements with selling a home, so these people help you with the legalities and property valuation. But what about the nitty-gritty of finding a buyer for your home?
That’s where a real estate agent comes in. They know how to advertise a listing and negotiate with buyers. Of course, you can argue that you can do that yourself, but are you sure you can accurately present the value of your home?
In today’s hot market, it’s easy to overestimate (or sometimes underestimate) your home’s worth. An objective eye can help you determine your property's top features and promote them justifiably.
These are pretty good reasons for getting a sales agent. We’ve made it easy for you to select a property agent that will work hard for you with our top tips below.
Look for a track record
A real estate agent’s job is to sell your property and get you the best possible price. And when selling your home, you want one who can actually sell rather than one who only promises to.
Selecting an agent can be really tricky because they will try to 'sell' themselves to you and put their best foot forward when you first meet them. The key to selecting a great agent is to remember that actions speak louder than words. Rely more on their selling record than their promises to you.
A real estate agent's track record is one of the best indicators on how great they are in closing a sale. Start your search for a good sales agent by finding out which ones have sold more properties in your area in the past six months. You can find this out by visiting the ‘Sold Prices’ tab on realestate.com.au.
Once you have found some potential sales agents, asking the following key questions can reveal a lot about their success and staying power:
- How long have you been working in real estate?
- Are you part of a team?
- How many active clients do you have at a time?
Talk to your potential agent in person at an open house
Visit a nearby open house and observe how the agent engages with potential buyers. Take note of their personality and professional chemistry.
When assessing real estate agents, keep a eye on the following skills:
Make sure the real estate agent knows your area and the local audience
Does your potential agent know that there’s a school nearby which can increase your property value? Or maybe your neighbourhood has a great community vibe which can also increase its value. Selecting a real estate agent that knows the local area well means they will appear more informed and genuine when selling. This will make it easier for them to speak with interested parties and secure the perfect buyer for your property.
Negotiating must be their super power
Let your potential real estate agents know the issues with your home off the bat, and test them on how they will answer potential buyer questions—maybe the dishwasher isn’t working or there are some external cracks that you don’t plan to renovate. Ask how your potential agent plans to sell your property if it’s a fixer upper.
You can also ask your potential real estate agents to do a test viewing with you so you can scrutinise how they’ll interact with prospective buyers. Are they friendly enough? Do they seem well-versed for buyers to believe them? Are they confident without being intimidating? These are some questions you can answer with a trial viewing.
Understand your online advertising options
Did you know that some websites require you to be a licensed agent to advertise? Research shows 87 percent of people search for properties to buy on the internet. So having a great online advertising strategy is paramount.
Ask your potential real estate agents to explain the different online advertising options available – for example, using an eBrochure or Highlight Property – and the advertising strategy they are recommending to attract the maximum number of potential buyers.
Discuss selling strategies
Does your potential agent have an existing database of prospective buyers, or will they rely on online ads and signs in your front yard? Ask specifically if they have a current list of interstate or overseas potential buyers, as these buyers may shell out bigger bucks or have more favourable contract terms.
There are different ways to go about selling a property — they can stage your property (using decorative items like furniture to show how a space would look if someone lived in it) on viewing days or take professional photographs or video for brochures or online listings. This will influence the number of potential buyers who see your property.
Ask your potential agents specific questions like:
- Will you do open houses?
- How many showings do you want to do?
- How much lead time will you give me before a showing?
The answers to these questions will help you understand their recommendations for selling your property.
Avoid choosing real estate agents based only on their commission rate
An agent who charges a fixed success fee will have a different approach to one that charges a commission to sell your property. Take the time to understand the difference between these two available options available and which one will likely give you the best result.
Consider the whole package the real estate agent is offering, which includes experience, local area knowledge and quality of their proposed advertising and selling strategy. Ask yourself which of the agents you've interviewed has you feeling confident that your property will be seen by the largest number of potential buyers to maximise the selling price.
Clarify your motivation to sell
Are you selling on a strict timeline for another purchase or tax requirements? Do you need to reach a specific sale amount? Ensure you’ve made clear any requirements that are specific to your own home sale.
Explain your communication preferences
Your agent should keep you updated throughout the sales process. Make sure you’re on the same page from the get-go. Discuss how the agent will keep you informed and how often you expect to hear from them. If you prefer email but the agent is most responsive to phone calls, you may not be a good fit for each other. Or, if you know you’re going to have lots of questions and expect quick responses, but the agent usually just sends bi-weekly updates, you may want to find someone who is a better fit.
You can also ask for routine updates from online advertising campaigns. Ask if your potential agent can register you to receive a weekly vendor report by email so you can see how many times your property has been viewed.
Develop a short list of preferred real estate agents
Narrow down your list to three agents, meet with then in person and ask them for a valuation. The highest valuation is not necessarily the best for you, as an overpriced house may not sell.
Agree on all the important details
The best agent-seller relationships have clearly defined expectations. Make sure that, in writing, you’ve agreed upon the fee structure, list price, and contract length (i.e. what happens if your home hasn’t sold after a certain amount of time) and any specific needs you've communicated.
Check the small print
After selecting your agent, check the terms of the appointment. It’s your responsibility to know what you’re agreeing to before signing anything legally binding.
Have a complaint to make?
If you’ve encountered any issues with your real estate agent, such as slow responses to your requests or failing to deliver the service that was promised, we’re here to support you. We will help you follow the correct complaint process and ensure you don’t get played.
We’re here to help you handle it, just let us know the details of your complaint here.