Choosing the correct agent to look after the sale of your home is for many a difficult task. For most it will be amongst the biggest transaction we will make and possibly the most emotional. I have read many articles on this subject and there are even portals designed specifically for this purpose.
The process should start with you, the owner, doing your own research and I do not mean about all the different agents. I mean about the market and the likely sale price of your property. You cannot possibly expect to enter a transaction of many hundreds of thousands of dollars and not being well informed. This research should be detailed and realistic.
We all think our home is the best in the street, but in truth it may not be. It is at this point that I find the first real mistake is usually made. Comments like “I have to sell at this price because that’s how much I need”. Buyers do not care what you need they will only pay market price. “The last sale in the street was for $XXX,xxx and that is what I want”. That may be so but are the properties comparable? In many instances no! I could go on with many more, I think I have probably heard most of them.
To have a good understanding of the market and the likely sale price of your property start, by going to auctions and open homes in your area. Auctions will obviously give you an instant idea of property sales and once the open homes are sold you will know what features they have and be able to compare with your own property.
The way to assess the value of your property is to see what comparable properties in same area sell for. Be analytical. Look for similar accommodation, block size and location, construction, condition, and presentation and finally features like car accommodation, sheds, or pools.
There are other ways to help make an assessment like using the real estate portals or research sites. These allow you to input the property address and then using algorithms the site calculates a likely selling price.
In my opinion these are only good for a guide as they use artificial intelligence to pick similar properties that have sold in the area, and mathematics to make the assessment. In many instances I have seen the comparable properties are not good examples. Also, these systems have no accurate way of dealing with improvements made since the last sale of the subject property.
Now you are ready to look for your agent and agency. Yes, you need both as they each have a role to play. Let us start with the agent.
While you have been doing your research, you would have come across several agents. You may have even liked one or more, this is another trap. You are in the same position as an employer looking for a new employee and many an employer has made the mistake of employing someone they liked, not someone that can do the job. While you have been out looking at property, some agents would have stood out. They have been engaging, they followed up or they did a good auction.
These are attributes that should invite an agent to your job interview. Other applicants should come from referral or research.
At this point I should warn you against third party agent finders. Many of the parameters they use to compare agents are unimportant and although they say the cost is free to you, the agent has to pay and that could possibly lessen your chances of a better commission deal with your choice of agent as the agents costs have just increased.
By now, you should have a strong knowledge of the local market, you should have a close idea of what your property should sell for and you have chosen some agents to interview for the job. Now is the time to determine which agent should represent you. What are good attributes:
1. Do they have a good knowledge of the local market? Do they agree with your assessment? If so why, make them demonstrate what they know. If they do not, again make them demonstrate why. Simply disagreeing over sale price is not a reason not to employ an agent, but having a frank discussion over price is a good way to find out their local knowledge and their strength of character.
2. Will you and your potential buyers be dealing with the agent you are interviewing or will you be palmed off to a personal assistant or some other titled person who is not in the interview and more than likely not as skilled.
3. What is the agent going to charge in terms of commission? I am certainly not an advocate of discount operators. If this is an element of their pitch, then how strong will their negotiation skills be on your behalf. Value for money is what to look for.
4. Does the agent understand marketing and advertising? Will you be slotted into program A, B or C, Silver, Gold, or platinum? A good agent will discuss an advertising budget with you and formulate a specific campaign for you. Your agent should understand the target market and have a strategy. Big ads for the sake of big ads is not a strategy.
5. Have a look at the agent’s board is it all about them? It amuses me when I see a large board outside a good property with huge photos of the agent when a great shot of the kitchen or view would be much better advertising. Make sure they are selling your home not themselves.
6. Communication is an extremely important factor in the vendor agent relationship. I always think it is important to choose an agent you respect, and one that you can openly and frankly communicate with. Your agent will not always have good news, they need to have the spine to pass it on and discuss it with you and you need to be able to trust them.
7. What back up does the agent have? Does the agent have the strength of a full-service agency behind them? Now it is time to talk about the agency.
Selling property is mostly a team exercise. Your agent is the focal point but there must be strength behind. A good agent should have assistance with real estate portal management, social and digital media management, data base management, and have a good modern CRM system.
The agency needs to have proper contract and trust account management systems and importantly these days have strong security systems to protect your information that is stored with the agency.
In many instances your agent will need to relate to a buyer that is an investor. The agent should have the backing of a strong property management department. A team that can make buying an investment easy.
Another important issue that is often overlooked, is that the agency must have a strong and good culture. All team members of the company must have a natural disposition towards honesty, integrity, and a desire to provide a great service. You deserve to have a good experience and so does your buyer.
As I said this is a big decision and needs strong input from you the seller, but if you follow the process and choose wisely, the transaction should be exciting.
David Forrest - Managing Director