You’ve made the hardest decision – to sell your home – but now it’s time to make sure you get the best possible outcome from the sale by hiring the right agent.
Real estate agents are only too keen to convince you to hire them to help sell your property over their competition, but it’s up to you to make sure you choose the best person for the job. Asking key questions can help you determine whether an agent is going to make the sale of your property a positive experience, or one filled with stress and regret.
When an agent comes to your home for a listing presentation – outlining the price you can expect for your property, and the strategy they have in mind to achieve it – you have the opportunity to ask all the questions you like before signing an agency agreement that locks you into paying them a commission on the sale of your home.
How will you get the best possible price outcome for my property?
An experienced agent will be forthcoming about the campaign he or she has in mind for the sale of your home, tailoring it to the market, local area, and likely potential buyers of your house or apartment.
“I’d ask them about their strategy, how they’re going to maximise the price for my property,” advises LJ Hooker Avnu agent Jason Georges. “You need an expert in the field who can manage the process of selling a home with their eyes closed.”
Most of the clients Georges works with are referred by past clients or he has sold property for them before. In the case of new clients, Georges makes sure he finds out all he can about a client’s previous experiences selling property. “I talk to them about the good bits, their fears, I get them to open up to me about it. If they’ve been through five auctions and they’ve failed, let’s talk about what went wrong.”
He then tailors a campaign not just with the goal of achieving the best possible price for a client, but also to give them an experience that turns them into lifelong clients. Some clients want detailed feedback from their agent after open-home inspections, for example. Others don’t want to hear negative comments about their home; they would rather learn about how many contracts of sale were taken away from an open home, and any promising offers on the table.
How experienced are you in my local area?
An agent who knows the ins and outs of your street, neighbourhood, suburb and local area has a definite advantage over newcomers. Most importantly, expert local knowledge allows an agent to accurately price a property. Positioning a house or apartment in the market at the right price is key when it comes to selling quickly and successfully. Price it too low and the maximum price is unlikely to be achieved. Too high? It will likely hang around on the market to the point that it becomes ‘stale’. And that means buyers will start to assume there is something wrong with it.
“Expertise in a local area is so important,” says LJ Hooker Avnu agent Cameron Maxwell. “Most traffic to open homes is driven by realestate.com.au and domain.com.au, but an experienced agent knows the local prices, they know who’s looking in the area, they can think on their feet, and if there’s a deal to be made they have a better chance of closing it.”
The state of the property market has less impact than vendors think on whether a property sells or not, Maxwell says. “If you position the property right in terms of price from the start and have the right campaign in place, there’s no excuse for a property not to sell. There’s always a buyer for every property.”
An agent who can also advise potential buyers on the area’s best public and private schools, medical facilities, transport options, and even the most popular restaurants and cafes in town can quickly build confidence and rapport with buyers, as well as paint a positive picture of what their lifestyle could be like if they bought and moved in.
How hard will you work to sell my home?
Although you might get along well with an agent during a listing presentation, it pays to find out how involved he or she will be over the course of the campaign, and how proactive they will be when it comes to finding the right buyer for your property.
“As a vendor I’d want to know whether my agent is going to be taking care of me, or if their plan is to hand it over to a junior,” says Maxwell. “I’d want to know if they’ll be running the open houses, for example.”
Georges also advises asking who will be doing what during a campaign by asking, “what does your team look like?”.
An agent bogged down with admin and marketing tasks will have less time to focus on finding and negotiating with buyers. Compare that scenario to an agent working with an agency offering expert marketing, tech and admin support behind the scenes, and it becomes obvious who will have more time and energy to provide a vendor with a better selling experience – and likely a more successful outcome.
Are you who you say you are?
Don’t take for granted that a potential agent has a real estate licence. It takes just a minute to check the government-registered licence of an agent, but few vendors are aware that they should be doing so. In NSW, you can verify a real estate agent’s credentials via Fair Trading.
Testimonials provided by the agent provide an indication of what you can expect from an agent but don’t always reveal the full picture. Georges recommends going along to several open homes being run by the agent you are considering to check not just how professionally he or she comes across, but also how consistent they are in terms of dealing with potential buyers.
“When we sign a contract with someone who’s looking to sell their property, we’re representing them,” Georges says. “In our open homes it’s so important that we present professionally, that we’re suited up, that we’re not on the phone at any time during the inspection, that we’re completely focused on the buyer.”
As well as seeing how an agent conducts themselves during an open, Georges recommends calling to make an inquiry about a property to gauge how well an agent engages with buyers. “Checking consistency and professionalism will give you an extra level of comfort that you’re making the right choice,” he says.
Maxwell agrees with the importance of vendors doing their own research before signing with an agent. “There are so many ways of seeing reviews on agents online, but also check what they’ve sold, whether they’re pro-auction or private treaty, if they’ve sold more houses or apartments, and what prices they quoted versus what they got in the end. Go to their open houses and see how they interact with people before you’ve even organised to meet them.”
Having the right agent is vital, Maxwell says. “Anyone can sell a home but having the right agent can mean an extra $100,000 in your pocket and much less stress.”
What are my instincts telling me?
If you’ve asked the right questions and feel confident all the boxes have been ticked, it may be time to sign! But if there remains an uneasy feeling that you don’t really click with an agent or, worse still, they aren’t trustworthy, it’s time to walk away.
“Go with your gut,” advises Georges. “I can tell within five minutes of meeting someone if I’m going to get the business, and I think it’s the same with the client. You can tell if they’re comfortable or not.”
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