Lift off! The day has finally arrived when you’ve decided to ‘get the agents in’. However, if you’ve spent countless hours planning your next move, let alone preparing your property to perfection, which particular agent will capture the full magic of your property and secure the pot of gold it is undoubtedly worth?
Getting the right real estate agent
Well, let’s turn the spotlight on and zero-in on exactly how best to find your super agent. A professional so adept they’ll stun you with their service as well as result, and will expunge any negative assumptions you’ve previously held about real estate agents — plus, they’ll enjoy receiving your Christmas card for many seasons to come.
Build your ideal agent’s profile
First off, what do you want? Do you want a master marketeer, presenter, price negotiator, closer, or a great people-person? And what about being a communicator or someone that sweats the detailed stuff? Think you’ll get all this in one agent?
Perhaps the first ingredient to throw in the mix, is to find an agent you actually like. Selling, let alone all the effort you’ll experience in constantly presenting the home, is exhaustive and stressful. Then, when it comes to working out price offers, you’ll certainly want to deal with an agent you feel a connection… someone you can be real with. Try and match that with most of the subjects above.
As agents are quite skilled at presentation, allow them time to reveal themselves. Do you want an agent who tells you what to do and takes charge? Or do you prefer an agent who lets you talk first and makes you feel heard? Would you like an agent giving you a flashy digital Presentation in his/her office, or relaxed in approach, meeting you at home or at a coffee shop to share their marketing approach in a personal manner? There’s no right or wrong answer, but knowing what you prefer will help you match yourself with a personality that suits you best.
The power of a local
Next, what do family, friends and neighbours think? Who have they used and did they have a good experience? Would they use the person again? Any same-street or same-suburb neighbour is best. Be brave and ask! Most people will not mind sharing a good or bad experience with you.
Sellers usually get listing presentations from at least three agents, who’ll share the results of comparable homes, and how long they took to sell. Agents are all looking at the same data, so the suggested listing price should be close… you’d think? Be warned, it you’re impressed with an agent talking higher prices than the others, there is a downside. Pricing a home too high at the start often means it takes longer to sell, and therefore may ultimately sell for less. The longer your property sits on the market, the more people are going to think there’s something wrong with it — wouldn’t you think the same?
Let’s get serious here. This is the biggest financial decision you will make for years to come. So don’t be afraid to ask questions. Agents are used to it, and will have prepared scripts and dialogues to present to you — which are all part of their professional toolkit. Remember, you only want the best to represent you. Fire away, and let the best agent win!
Ask about negotiation
Get them to role play. Ask, if you were a buyer, how they would negotiate the highest price from you? If the agent is a poor negotiator, that may show in your surprise attack questions. After all, an agent has to be skilled enough to deliver the goods at all times… that’s what you’re paying for.
How are they at nursing a sale to its conclusion?
In many cases, the most important work of an agent is not to find the home but to make sure the sale closes. You can’t afford it if they fail to keep up with details of the transaction.
Do they separate tyre kickers from the genuine home buyers?
How deep do they drill when making sure the buyer is preapproved for a home loan? Are their buyers ready to purchase, or will you be spending time preparing your home for those that are educating themselves about the market, and aren’t at the serious stage of making an offer?
Finding a neighborhood expert is especially important. They will know why buyers pay more, as well as paying less, and would have taken the time to discover why two seemingly similar properties achieve different prices.
Drive around your suburb and see whose name is on most of the real estate signs. Excuse the pun, this is a sure sign they are an expert in the area, and their listing presentation to a lot of home owners, such as yourself, has convinced them the agent knows what he/she is doing.
It’s an industry fact that an agent who understands more about a particular suburb will accrue ‘groupies’ of buyers. They register their details with the agent as they want first pickings — prior to a property being advertised — and they also won’t muck about with an offer… again, just like you would if you’re serious about buying.
It’s a digital world out there
Google your area and visit major industry sites such as realestateview.com.au and see who’s mastering that side of property marketing. Compare the presentation of listings and decide if that’s the way you would like your home to be marketed, and would they appeal to you if you were a buyer?
If you haven’t had personal contact with any agents yet, call a few agencies as if you were a buyer and test response time, and then do the same with e-mail. Visit open-for-inspections, and unveil who are working the best for their clients. That way you’ll discover if reality matches their marketing.
Don’t just sell my house, sell the dream
Try and find an agent who believes in your community and does more than sell homes but participates in local schools, churches, businesses or charities. An agent with deep community connections will be more able to share their ‘dream life’ with prospective purchasers, and buyers will pay more for anything if it fulfills their dreams.
Forget the property, what’s the agent worth?
If any agent tries to attract your business with offering you a cheaper commission, beware. If she/he is prepared to work for you cheaper, why would you expect them to achieve a higher price from a buyer when she/he can’t get a higher commission price from you?
Stay the distance
Finally, be friendly but firm. Once your home is sold and the solicitor/conveyancer has done the paperwork, it’s a done deal. So don’t be brow-beaten or intimidated into not asking things you aren’t too sure about. How many times do you sell a home? Of course you’ll be uncertain about aspects of the sale/auction process, so educating yourself will be a good way to ‘test’ any agent.
An average suburban home-selling/auction campaign is around 4-5 weeks. So, exercise, eat red jelly beans, or do whatever it takes to maintain your energy. For the sake of your financial future, and anyone else you’re providing for, you need to be focussed when choosing your agent and have plenty of stamina for the campaign.
Also, as some good agents advise, pop an extra expensive bottle of something nice in the fridge, or box of exquisite chocolates where you can see them. Choosing to open them on that special day when the ‘Sold’ sticker goes up on the sign board, will be one of the sweetest decisions you will ever make.