Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home
1. Word of mouth
Ask. Just ask. Getting a personal recommendation should be your first step to finding a real estate sales agent. Don’t just ask who they’d recommend, ask why. You get credible advice by asking.
2. Look local
Beyond personal recommendations, take note of local reported sales and who sold them. Check out the current listings in your area - who is selling them? But more importantly, track what happens: do they sell? Do they get taken off the market? Do they get relisted by someone else?
You want an agent who is likely to have a pool of prospects on tap that have missed out on other properties. The right agent for your property might be based in another area, but have a proven track record in the location you’re selling.
3. Attend their open homes
Once you’ve got a few potential real estate agents in mind, go to some of their Open Homes. See how they sell someone else’s home before you let them sell yours. Observe their selling techniques; see how it feels as one of their ‘prospective purchasers’.
Watch how they welcome people and talk to them: are they polite and helpful or detached, indifferent or rude? Do they ensure all attendees have provided contact details? Do you actually hear from them after the Open Home? If they’ve had to leave a message for you, do they ever follow up? Do you get confirmation of any questions raised?
4. Test their knowledge
Take it one step further ask some specific questions about the property - either at the Open Home or after the fact. That will give you an idea of how much the agent has bothered to learn about the house, their level of professionalism and commitment to the sale.
Pay attention to remarks they make to yourself and other Open Home attendees. Are they acting in the best interests of the vendor? Because if you select them as your agent, that vendor will be you.
5. Check the real estate agent’s sales record
Look at the sales records of the agents you’re considering. It’s not just about how many listings they have - that’s only half the story. Look into their sales history and actively check that the agent is actually selling those properties.
6. Look at how fast the agent sells a property
Do some further research and see if any patterns emerge: Take note of how long their properties are on the market.
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’re looking for. Busy agents may have a message service - that’s fine as long as you do hear back within a reasonable timeframe.
8. How do you want them to work?
Before you make the calls, determine what kind of client you want to be and communicate that to the agent to see if they’re able to work with your request.
For example: do you want to be kept updated at every step along the way, or do you want to have as little to do with the selling process as possible and don’t need the agent to run every single detail past you?
9. Get an appraisal
Of the remaining potential agents, request an appraisal. An appraisal is an estimated selling price for the property and it should be free.
The results may vary, so make sure that the agent can justify the figure they are presenting to you. Some may come back with a much higher price but this doesn’t necessarily make them the best agent because the price they’ve set may be completely unattainable, which only sets you up for unrealistic expectations and disappointment.
10. Presentation, Presentation, Presentation
The appraisal stage will often create jobs for you! De-cluttering, gardening, storage, fix-it’s such as painting, carpeting and plumbing. A good agent should have contacts for these and possibly also have negotiated special rates. Who do they use for photography? What about property styling/home staging? Presentation costs can add up, so it’s definitely worth asking for recommendations and discounts.
11. Achieving the best possible price
Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their selling technique. Will they auction the property or sell it by tender? Will there be expressions of interest? Do they recommend ‘buyer enquiry over’? Do they advertise without pricing? How often will they conduct open homes? Make sure you 100% understand all the options and don’t be afraid to question any industry terminology: if you’re unsure, ask.
Focus also on their advertising strategy: Do they incorporate digital components or just traditional advertising? Do they provide tracking of advertising spend? Can it be tweaked mid campaign? Which social media channels do they confidently use? Like their pages and follow their activity. Are they responsive? Which formats do they utilise? Just photos? Video? 3D models? Floor plans?
12. Negotiate commissions
You can certainly haggle, just be wary that a lower commission should definitely not be your main selection criteria. A great agent with a proven track record in achieving the best prices possible is worth every percentage. Remember the old saying: ‘If you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys’.
It has been commented that if the agent is willing to reduce commission easily, it could be a sign of poor negotiation skills. Just imagine them doing the same when negotiating on your behalf in the property sale.
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 - it’s just as valid as other selection criteria when making your final decision.
The right agent can sell your home faster, with less stress and for the best price. You have to do some research and invest some time when choosing the right agent for you and your property, but that effort is so worth it to know you’ve made the right decision for what is often your biggest capital asset.
[Thanks to QV.co.nz for material in this blog]