The five questions you should ask your real estate agent

The five questions you should ask your real estate agent
The five questions you should ask your real estate agent

GUEST OBSERVATION

  1. Based on what you have sold in the area, what do you think our house is worth?

    This question is important as I believe it’s necessary to use an agent who is very active in your immediate area, and an agent who is confident in answering this question is more likely to have had greater local experience. Your agent should be able to honestly inform you about how realistic the price you suggest for your property is, based on the market conditions and local supply and demand that they should be very familiar with. 

    While on the topic of the value of your house, you may wish to additionally check how many buyers your agent is working with and whether these buyers would pay the price suggested by your agent. This will allow you to ascertain whether your agent is working with buyers who are interested in buying a property similar to yours which will not only make it easier for the agent to sell your property, but will additionally give you an indication as to how successful they are – if the agent has many buyers it is generally because they are selling a large number of properties.

    Finally, agents who are very active in the market are also more likely to receive business via referral, so you may wish to ask neighbours and friends in the area if there is an agent they would recommend. If your agent’s name never comes up, this may not be a very positive sign for their local penetration.

  2. What method of sale would you suggest for our property and how would you market our home to get the best price?

    The agent you choose should have excellent advice regarding how best to promote your property for sale. They should also be able to go through the various methods of sale, such as auction or private treaty, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each.

    Their knowledge of local communication channels and how to obtain greatest coverage for your property should also be unparalleled in the area, and it’s ideal for you to personally like what they do with their advertising and the places they advertise. This is why you may wish to ask to see an example of their market advertising because if the look of their advertising doesn't catch your eye, chances are it will not attract the eyes of buyers either.

    It may also help to check that your agent is casting the net wide with their marketing tactics, as the cost of marketing might be considered an investment into your final selling price.  A mix of both online and print marketing may help to bring more buyers to the property, potentially leading to a higher selling price for your property.    

  3. What do we need to do in order to get the best price?

    Your agent should be able to present your property in the best possible light to potential purchasers, while advising you on various presentation techniques. A number of high-performing agents will provide a stylist free of charge, while not being afraid to suggest improvements. This is because it’s amazing what a lick of paint or a mini garden makeover can do to ensure buyers’ first impressions are as positive as possible.

    Listen to your agent’s advice and, if your budget allows, I would suggest trying to follow their suggestions. Well-presented homes often sell more quickly and for a higher price, and some agents can even have a great team of tradies on hand to ensure improvements are made quickly and inexpensively.
     
  4. What is your commission rate?

    The agent should have excellent negotiating skills as a basic pre-requisite and should be able to negotiate a fair fee for themselves. Never choose the cheapest agent, because often there will be a reason he or she needs to discount their fee.

    Busy agents are talented agents as they generally have greater exposure to buyers and can often match the perfect buyer to any property. In the same way you wouldn’t choose the cheapest heart surgeon to operate on your heart, you shouldn’t choose the cheapest agent to sell your most important asset.

  5. How often will I get feedback? 

    I’m often amazed when I’m hired as the second or third agent (or God forbid the fourth!) in a particular sale by a vendor who has become tired of agents giving little to no feedback during the process. It’s so important that your agent has a system in place to ensure that you will know what is going on at every step of the sale process.

    As such, I would recommend ensuring your agent is willing to contact you immediately after each inspection. They should also update you regularly to discuss both the success of your marketing campaign and the interest of potential buyers.

    In my experience, a lack of feedback has consistently come up as the number one complaint vendors have against their agent. This is because if an agent can't communicate effectively with you, how can you be sure they are communicating with prospective purchasers? It’s in the agent’s best interests to attain the best possible price for every seller given higher-performing agents often receive a lot of referral business.

    My vendors love our systems and I believe it is important to keep sellers informed at every step of the selling process. We are all a team – if we work together a great result will follow!

 Stephanie Hearne has been awarded Century 21’s top Australian salesperson for the past three consecutive years.

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