Questions asked when choosing a Real Estate Agent
Selling a home should be like any other business transaction, but all too often sellers make emotional or impulsive decisions that cost them money and time. Choosing the right agent to market a property and negotiate the sale is the most important step in the process.
“My friend (or family member) sells real estate.”
Friendship alone isn’t enough to establish a professional’s credentials. A seller needs to use standards when selecting an agent, just as you would when hiring a solicitor, a doctor, or an accountant to handle your business. A true friend will understand and appreciate that this is a business decision and will offer their credentials and expect to compete for the listing. And ultimately when a problem or challenge develops while selling your home, do you want to risk damaging a friendship or family relationship?
“Your presentation sounds good. I’ll list right now.”
Look at more than one presentation and consider the advantages and disadvantages of each. Making an impulsive decision when caught up “in the moment” could be difficult to correct later. Normally a home is listed with an agent for a specific period of time and you may find yourself unable to “switch” to another agent if you’re unhappy with the service you are receiving.
“You’re the only agent who agrees with my selling price.”
Some agents tell you what you want to hear. In the real estate profession, this is known as “buying a listing” and is employed by short sighted agents who are more interested in themselves than they are in you. Having your home overpriced is an extremely poor strategy in selling a home at the highest possible price and can cost the owner considerable anxiety and money.
A home gets the most attention from intending buyers when it is a “new” listing. When a home is priced correctly buyers will be interested in looking at your home. Very few will look at your home if you price it too high and it will sit on the market for a longer period of time. When you finally drop your price to reflect its real value, your house is “old news” and buyers may think there is something wrong with it. Therefore you may end up accepting a price that is way below what you could have achieved had the house been priced properly to begin with and saving you time and money.
Ultimately pricing your home too high will make similar homes for sale in your area look that much better value.
“I don’t need references. I’m a good judge of character.”
A snap judgement isn’t good enough. You also need to determine if the agent is competent and the best way to do that is to check up on references. Ask for references on recent sales and check up on references of recent clients. Find out how an agent’s past clients feel about their selling experience.
Remember when choosing an agent that a young agent may have enthusiasm but very little experience, while an agent who has been in the industry for a number of years will have gained invaluable experience and more often than not retained their enthusiasm for selling properties.
“I’m going to list with the agent who has the lowest commission and no advertising costs.”
You get what you pay for. Paying a cut-rate commission will often get you a sign in the front yard and placement of pictures on the internet, but little additional effort from your agent.
It is worth working out a complete, well-planned marketing budget to advertise your home. Marketing on the internet along with excellent photography, sensible press advertising, quality brochures and a professional sign board promotes the property in proficient manner.
Incentive plays a very important role in sales. A “full service” agent earning a good commission will often “drop everything” to handle any challenges that come along. An agent on a lesser commission does not have that same incentive and to put in the hard work required to get the best result.
Finally, the agents negotiating ability is the most important skill he or she has to offer. Are you willing to put your faith in an agent who can’t even negotiate his or her own commission well?
“All agents required to pass the same course so they must know the same things.”
The real estate profession is constantly changing and the best real estate professionals stay abreast of those changes by continuing their education. Some go beyond the necessary minimum requirements and continue to hone their skills in the art of negotiation which often benefits the sale.
“This agent doesn’t promote open homes every week.”
Open homes can and do sell homes. If an agent isn’t willing to open your home on a regular bases then he is generally not exposing the home to enough people. An open home allows multiple people to visit and explore your home without pressure to decide if the home suits. Talking with prospective purchasers, finding out their needs and overcoming objections on why it possibly doesn’t suit will ultimately bring results. Therefore the more people visiting your home, the greater chance you will have of getting the price you are seeking.
Good agents use their time in effective marketing methods. The most effective marketing is directly to the public. By working to a well-planned marketing program and using all methods of marketing along with open home viewings will achieve the best result.
“I want an agent who lives in my neighbourhood.”
Knowledge of the local market is very important. Your agent should have intimate knowledge of recent sales, schools, businesses, amenities and future plans for the area, but it’s all easily achieved through extensive research. Living in the area shouldn’t be the primary reason for choosing an agent. Doing the research to be informed is. Be aware of agents that don’t research the area.
“This agent sold more homes last year than anyone else”
That should only be the beginning. What is more valuable, an agent who listed 33 homes and sold 24, or an agent who listed 16 homes and sold them all? So you need to ask some questions. How many of their listings didn’t sell? How many were reduced in price and for how much before they did sell? How long were the houses on the market? The longer a home is on the market the less they achieve. How smoothly was the marketing handled? How accessible was the agent during the sale process and were they available when problems arose or questions needed to be asked? Did they achieve a high sale price for the area or was it only average?
Quantity isn’t as important as quality. Too many agents just list the property and hope it will sell. Often an agent having less homes to market can put in the time required to service and negotiate a great sale price.
The best agent is the one who will do the most effective job of marketing the property, negotiating the most favourable terms and conditions, and communicating with the seller making the process as smooth as possible.