If you choose to hire a real estate agent to sell your property, then it is imperative that you select the one who will get you the most money from the sale. The cheapest agent is not one who charges the lowest commission but the one who can get you the highest net return.
In a strong sellers’ market, any mediocre agent can sell a property. But an outstanding agent can get you more money than others. In a tough sellers’ market, it will take an outstanding agent to close a sale that many others might not be able to.
With so many real estate agents out there, how can you be sure you are hiring the best one for you? Furthermore, with real estate agents having a questionable reputation alongside used car salesmen, how do you know who to trust? Ideally you should interview at least three real estate agents in person. Ask for recommendations from your family and friends who have sold their own properties in the vicinity of your property. Perhaps you have been to Open Inspections and a couple of agents have really stood out and made an impression. Don’t forget to trust your instincts.
Once you have identified the agents you would like to interview, you need to assess them based on their market knowledge, professionalism, presentation, manner, and integrity. Be careful of smooth talkers with fast cars who may just want to win your listing rather than give you honest advice.
Here are some questions that you should ask during the interview process:
Questions to Ask:
- What is your track record in this suburb/neighbourhood?
- What is your track record with selling the same type of property as ours?
- How many listings do you currently have?
- How many properties have you sold in the past 3 months in my suburb?
- What is your average number of days on market in the past 3 months?
- What percentage of properties do you list for Auction vs. Private Treaty? Why?
- What percentage of your Auction properties sell at Auction or prior?
- Which method of sale (Auction or Private Treaty) do you prefer and why?
- If Auction is preferred, do you recommend in-room or on-site Auction and why?
- How much do you think our property is worth and can you show us how you arrived at the figure?
- Who do you think the target buyers are for our property?
- What are the plus and minuses of our property?
- How do you propose to deal with the drawbacks of our property?
- What do you suggest we do to make this property present well for the sale?
- What type of marketing do you propose?
- Who will be conducting the Open for Inspections?
- Who does your call-backs? You or another junior agent?
- Can you tell us about a recent example where a property you have listed took a long time to sell or did not sell. What went wrong there?
- If we sign-up with you but we are not happy with your service, what is your termination clause?
- Do you hold a full licence or only the Certificate of Registration?
- What is your proposed commission and fees for marketing/advertising, etc.?
- How do we know that you will work to get every last dollar out of a buyer and not just try to close the deal fast so you can get your commission?
- How will you deal with buyers who do not speak much English?
- What do you propose to list as the estimated selling price in the Agency Agreement?
- What do you propose to quote to buyers who make inquiries about the listing?
- Check on the NSW Office of Fair Trading website that the agent you are considering is appropriately licensed and has a clean record.
- Before you invite any agents to meet with you for an interview, check them out at several Open Houses and look at how he/she conducts the Opens, talks to prospective buyers, etc. Do they show up on time? Do they know the property well? Do they have a pleasant demeanour? How is their assistant? If possible, submit an online inquiry first and see how long it takes them to respond and the manner with which they respond. Or call them and see if they return calls punctually. How they deal with you is likely to be the same as how they will deal with potential buyers of your property so go ahead and mystery shop them!
- Look at what type of properties the agent usually sells. If you are trying to sell an apartment but end up hiring an agent who normally sells $3 million properties, you might end up being a small fish in the pond and your property may not get the attention it deserves.
- Ask for 3 references of past vendors from the agent you are considering. Call them up and ask for candid feedback.
- Find out who will own the rights to your photographs and floor plan. If things don’t work out and you end up changing agent, you want to be able to save on cost and re-use.
- Take a look at the brochures and other marketing materials that the agency provides.
- Check out the website and copy of the text used by the agent in other listings.
- Read through the Agency Agreement thoroughly before you sign and if necessary, seek legal advice. You need to know your rights and obligations.
- Google the name of the agent you are thinking of hiring and see what comes up on online review sites, etc.
- Contact a local Buyers Agent and ask them who they think is a strong selling agent for your neighbourhood.