HOW DO I CHOOSE AN AGENT TO SELL MY HOME?
Choosing the right agent to look after the sale of your home can be a difficult decision. For many it will be one of the biggest transactions they will make – and that’s not even allowing for the emotional toll!
First, you need to do your research – not on the agents but on the market so that you’re aware of the likely sale price of your home before you even start talking to agents. A big transaction requires an informed decision. Start by looking at what is currently for sale and what has been sold – be realistic and be sure that you’re comparing apples with apples – and not oranges. By that, you need to take into consideration the condition of your home, size and location.
We all think our home is the best in the street but if you’re prepared to take an honest look at your home in comparison to others you may find that it’s actually not. The price that you will sell your home for is based solely on other sales in the area – the price is not at all related to how much you need to achieve in order to buy/move/travel. Buyers are not interested in what you need, they will only pay market price – same if you’re looking to buy.
If you believe that your 3 bedroom 30 year old unrenovated home is going to achieve the same money as the 3 year old architecturally designed house down the road then you’re comparing apples with oranges. You need to compare your home with others of a similar condition, block size, location, construction, presentation, car accommodation, sheds and pools – all of these aspects will add or subtract from the value.
To get a real feel of prices in your area it’s a good idea to go to auctions and open homes – not only will you get an idea of what your home is worth but you’ll also see the do’s and don’ts of presenting your home for sale. You’ll have fresh eyes on their property as the buyers will have on yours and you’ll see what jumps out – the good and the bad.
Or if you’d prefer to research from the comfort of your lounge, then go onto the real estate portals and check out other homes within your area – you’ll be able to see the condition of the home, floor plans and other details that will allow you to do a relative comparison.
While some portals like to give you an estimate of the value of your home (and others) be aware that these portals have absolutely no idea of what the home owner has done to the property – it could be in a lot better or worse condition than the last time it sold and these sites are working only on percentage increases for the area.
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to talk to an agent and agency. Research will also have helped when it comes to choosing an agent. Did you strike up a rapport with a particular agent while at an open house? If so, that’s a good start as it’s important that you feel comfortable with the agent that you choose. But remember that this is a business transaction so you also need to be comfortable with the manner in which they present properties for sale. You also need to take into consideration the way they dealt with you as a prospective buyer - did they follow you up out after your inspection? Did you feel that they did a good job in selling the home?
When having your home appraised it’s good to get a few opinions. Go with the agent that stood out from your research and then ask friends and families on their experience and if there’s someone that they recommend. If you meet with a few agents, you will get a feel for who is the right fit for you and don’t forget that not everyone will have the same experience – good or bad – so while it’s good to take others’ opinions into account the decision is ultimately yours and who you feel comfortable with.
Be cautious about contacting third party agent finders. While they claim to be a free service to you, agents pay for these referrals which greatly reduces your chance of negotiating on the sell fee so will ultimately cost you.
So when meeting with a few agents, what attributes should you be looking for:
- Local knowledge is very important. Are you on a similar page on the value of your home? Or are they merely agreeing with you in order to ‘buy’ the listing. It’s important that your agent is able to have a frank discussion with you on price.
- Is the agent that you sign with the one that you will be dealing with. Some agents will sign you up and then palm you off to an assistant which defeats the entire purpose of having a good relationship with the agent.
- What is the agent’s sell fee? An operator who can afford to greatly discount on their sell fee is often cutting corners which will not work in your favour. You’re looking for value for money – it’s that old adage of you get what you pay for!
- Does the agent have an understanding of marketing and advertising or do they offer a one size fits all program that is not tailored to your specific needs? If an agent can personalise your experience it will work much better for you.
- Look at the agent’s signboard. Is it about the property or about them? Make sure that your agent is selling your home.
- Communication with your agent is very important. You need to have an agent that not only contacts you when the news is good but also when the tough discussions need to be had.
- Does the agent have back up? As we all need the occasional holiday and unfortunately get sick, an agent with the full strength of an agency behind them is crucial. You need to know that if your agent isn’t able to show your property then they have trusted others that can. While your agent is the focal point when it comes to selling your home it is a team exercise so there must be strength behind them in both their sales team and their systems.
- Does the agency offer beyond the sales aspect of your home? Do they have a property management team that can assist them in the rental side of the property should it be secured by an investor.
- Does the agency have a strong and good culture. How long have the team members worked together? Do they work as an entity or independently? It’s important that team members have a natural disposition towards honesty, integrity and a desire to provide a great service and that they work together. In a transaction as important as selling your home, it’s important that both yourself and the buyer have a good experience.
Selling your home is a big decision and requires strong input from the owners, so it’s important that you choose an agent that you feel comfortable with, who listens and who isn’t afraid to have the tough discussions. It can be an exciting experience if you choose wisely and follow the process.