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How do you select the right real estate agent?

By Michael Walkden

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT REAL ESTATE AGENT?

Are you thinking about selling your home? You’d be joining many others, as it seems the warmer conditions have worked their magic.

According to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, September saw the number of homes sold bumped up 5.3 per cent from August (the last month of winter). Meanwhile, a release from CoreLogic RP Data found that Australia had its highest level of new homes for sale since March.

With the decision made, you just need to pick a real estate agent. Finding the right one can be a bit like searching for a needle in a hay stack – the Real Estate Institute of Australia asserts that there were nearly 65,000 selling agents in 2011 (using the most recent census results).

Once you’ve done your research, narrow it down to around three candidates before arranging a meeting with each one. This is where you question them to determine their suitability to sell your house – similar to a job interview, except you’re the daunting boss posing the tough examination.

Here are a few questions you can ask your agent to help ensure you pick the right one:

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY?

Experience is key here. Although a lot of it does come down to your own judgement. For example, an agent with a lot of years in the industry will often have access to a wide network of professionals and possess relevant knowledge and prowess in the field. Meanwhile, someone who is relatively fresh to the job may have more energy and enthusiasm.

CAN YOU SHOW ME YOUR RECENT SALES?

It’s good to see a constant stream of sales success, but you should also look at the kind of property they’ve sold. For example, if you’re selling your farm or acreage, you’ll want an agent who specialises in rural real estate instead of residential sales.

DO YOU HAVE ANY REFERENCES FROM PREVIOUS CLIENTS?

Enough said here. If an agent is unable to provide you with a list of clients you can speak with, it’s probably best to move on to the next candidate.

ARE YOU LICENSED AND REGISTERED?

While you can find this information online, it’s always good to ask in person. All agents must go through a rigorous course to be able to practice selling real estate. The penalties for operating without a licence are severe. For instance, the Queensland government holds a maximum penalty of a $23,560 fine or even two years imprisonment!

WHAT KIND OF ADVERTISING WOULD YOU USE?

In most real estate transactions, the marketing of your home comes from your pocket, so it’s good to know what the agent’s plan is. Larger agencies are often able to provide more effective and efficient advertising, as the listings on their websites garner more views than boutique agencies.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE VALUE OF MY HOME?

While a high price may get your blood flowing, be wary of unrealistic pricing. Ask what they’ve based their estimate on, with some examples of homes similar to yours that have already sold.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE BEFORE MY HOME SELLS?

By asking this question, you can grasp the agent’s expectations. Compare it with the current average in your area for greater insight. According to CoreLogic RP Data, it has been as little as 16 days in select suburbs!

WHAT ARE YOUR COSTS?

This is certainly one of the tougher questions to ask. Once you’ve found out their commission, request that they justify their fees. Keep in mind that you’re not after the cheapest, but you want the most for your money.

HOW WOULD YOU SELL MY HOME?

A competent agent will be aware of the numerous ways to sell a home, including what method is most suitable for each local market. As an example: “Given that auction results in your area show clearances rates are over 80 per cent, I would market your home via auction.”

HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT FROM THE REST?

Regardless of whether it’s accolades, a stunning sales record or the benefits of a larger agency that makes them unique, the final decision of who manages your property for sale lies with you.

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