Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent for You

Who Should Sell my Home?

The time has come where you need to sell. I am sure you have considered keeping your property as an investment, but that doesn’t always make sense given circumstances. Who will represent your home?

It is an important question, very important. I would say by a long way it is the biggest determining factor in your end result and your stress levels during the time your property is on the market. Please, do not make this decision lightly. If you are considering selling it yourself, here’s some advice; don’t. This is for a number of reasons and a blog for another day.

What I wanted to provide for you today is advice around choosing that match made in house selling heaven. By the way, please make sure you interview 3 or so agents before making a decision.

Look for passion and honesty

Let me say this. I have seen many newer agents who will sell a home a lot better than experienced agents. Choose the person, not the time they have been in the industry. Experience is great as long as they still have a passion for selling! You are only as good as your last sale. Look for someone who is enthusiastic and has a steely determination for exceeding your expectations.

Interview the people who will actually be there during the open homes and appointments

Agents who run teams have the ability to sell more property. The bottleneck in real estate often becomes the time available to run open homes on the weekends. In my opinion, a single agent could run 4-5 open homes on a Sunday (Wellington’s favorite open home day). Any more than that and they will need assistance. If you are interviewing an agent who runs a team enquire as to who will be representing your property. Do you want to pick an agent on the strengths and character of switched on Samantha where in reality you get her understudy, bumbling Bob? You also don’t want to become part of a “real estate factory” where overworked agents are just going through the motions.

Ask the right questions

Come prepared. Although your gut feel on trust is very important, also make sure you have prepared a list of questions to ask the agent. Not just the standard ones i.e “what is my home worth”. Here are some examples:

  • If we receive an offer or offers that are not at the right level what would be your negotiation strategy to encourage buyers to increase their offer?
  • Can you talk me through some of your recent results and explain why they were successful or otherwise?
  • Can you show me the mediums and methods yourself and your company use for marketing and why these have been proven effective?
  • How will I be communicated with and be given feedback through the process?

Obtain referrals from people you trust

This is an obvious one. Ask family and friends who have sold properties in the past who they have used and what the experience was like. Be careful of taking a recommendation from someone who may be looking for a referral fee out of it, and always ask that question. Make sure that the recommendation is genuine.

Does your agent provide valuable advice in regard to the work needed prior to going to the market?

An experienced and astute agent will usually be able to provide you with a plethora of advice on what could and should be done to maximise value. You can decide on what you do and don’t want to spend money on. Be careful of agents who just want to get on with the job in a slapdash manner. Admittedly and embarrassingly, 12/13 years ago when I first obtained my license I was in this boat. If you wanted to sell, I was ready to rock and roll asap. But I quickly realised how much can be left on the table if a home is not prepared correctly for sale. 

Negotiation strategy

In the top three most crucial attributes of an agent is their ability to negotiate, probably the most important. I don’t mean negotiate in a sleazy stereotypical sense either. Negotiation starts from the first phone call or meeting with the purchaser and involves everything said through the process. We touched on it above under “ask the right questions” but we should be able to succinctly talk an owner through our process and strategy in terms of maximising value.

Look up an agent on the Real Estate Authority (REA) public register

It could be prudent to look up an agent you are considering up on the REA public register. This will show if any complaints against an agent have been upheld in the last 3 years.

Go mystery shopping

Visit open homes. Is the agent warm and welcoming? Do they put you at ease? How is the property presented (light on if necessary, doors open if necessary, is the house warm, is it clean)? In this busy market does the owner have an efficient method for signing buyers in quickly while still getting the necessary information? Does the agent have relevant statistics and sales information at the open home? Are they knowledgeable in regards to the area? Are they asking the right questions of you? Knowing the properties a buyer has offered on etc is very helpful for an agent.

An open home is where the agent will probably meet the majority of people looking to purchase your home. How long do they run the open home for? Do they turn up early? The last thing you need is a disinterested agent who turns up late whips a flag up and stands at the front door grunting as people enter.

How will your agent plan to provide feedback on your home?

Some prefer verbal communication, some prefer written and some will provide both. Just ensure they have a plan for keeping you in the loop. You need to have a sense of what is going on. Selling a home is stressful enough without being kept in the dark through the process.

Make sure your agent will be accessible

How difficult are they to get hold of/how busy are they? You want to be your agent’s priority. Does the agent usually pick up the phone on the first try? Does the agent promptly return an email? You should be able to gauge this somewhat through your initial contact with them. If you struggle to touch base when trying to tee up an appraisal what will they be like with any potential buyers?!

The last thing you want is the premium buyer not getting the attention they need and deserve. A busy agent with lots of listings on the market may portray success but be aware that they will be spreading their time with you thinner having to service many properties. 

See through the spin

All agents are going to tell you what you want to hear. You need to be alert and see who is genuine. You want to enquire as to whether someone is grounded in wanting to do the best for you. There are too many agents who want to turn houses over and don’t necessarily want to work for that extra few tens of thousands. Perhaps you could ask to call or email the owners of the last three homes an agent has sold to hear from the horse’s mouth as to how they found the experience.

The overriding rule is to employ someone who has your best interests at heart.

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Country kid turned city inhabitanat. I enjoy working out, living in the vibrant city of Wellington, helping people with property, and spending time with my beautiful wife.

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