Separating the best from the rest

By Laurence Morgan

From offering the cheapest commission to promising the prices that seem too good to be true, choosing the real estate agent to list your property with requires a careful approach. Here’s an overview to help you choose the best agent for the job.

Over long careers in real estate, two things have really stood out for us at Laurence Morgan. One, the difference between a good real estate agent and a great agent can be anywhere from 3% to 7% extra, sometimes more, on your sales price. We are talking tens of thousands of dollars – dollars in your pocket. Two, so many homeowners choose an agent without asking hard questions or doing enough research, and it always ends up costing them on the sales result.

Perhaps people are attracted to the bigger brands or the more effective self-promotion that agents indulge in, but think of it this way: are the best burgers made by the biggest burger brands? That’s a hard no. So, choose an agent, not an agency, who has the skills and experience that matches your property goals.

Interview at least three agents

This is not something you will hear many agents say, but we’re comfortable with it: talk to at least three agents. A good time to do this is during a market appraisal of your home. Ask them about their local experience, down to the very suburb you live in, and their market knowledge. Ask them about their recent sales results. Can they provide strong references? Are they good communicators? Do you feel comfortable with them? Use this phase to get to know agents and see what makes them tick, how much they are invested in selling your property and guiding you throughout the process.

Cheap but not cheerful

The first question many homeowners ask an agent is often, ‘how much will it cost to sell my home?’. This is the right question because the cheapest fee is rarely an indication of a great agent. Agents offering fees that are below the competition are either going for bulk sales, or they’re desperate for listings. Either way, they’re not likely to be focused on your property. Think of it this way: if they don’t value their own income, why would they value helping you attract a premium sales price? Selling a home is an investment in a relationship with an effective agent, not merely a transaction.

Hands-on approach

A key aspect of choosing an agent to sell your home is asking if the agent you’re talking to is actually the person who will do the hard yards to sell your home. You want an agent who is directly engaged in the process, from start to finish, not delegating the listing to a junior agent. Ask them if they personally attend photoshoots, open homes and showing interested people through the property. Do they personally follow up leads and regularly speak to you about progress? These are not trivial points: a great agent wants to be across every aspect of the sale because they are confident in their skills and experience and know they can get you a price that will make you smile.

If it seems too good to be true …

Free marketing. Buyers just waiting for a property like yours. Telling you they can attract a sales price that is out of this world. Those three things are just some of the tricks some agents will try to get you to list with them. But what they’re not telling you is more important. Take free marketing for example. If your property is as good as they say it is, why hide it? The agent should be convincing you to spend money on an advertising campaign that gets maximum exposure, attracts more people to the property, and creates competition. It’s simple economics: more demand means the price goes up, which will also easily cover your advertising costs.

The same goes for off-market selling, when an agent says they “just the buyer for you”, means they are selling to their database. While having qualified buyers is great, and every agent has relationships with buyers, putting the property on the open market is the only way to fetch a premium price. Finally, if the sales price they’re pitching seems too good to be true, ask them to explain in detail how they arrived at that price, including the five comparable properties. Do your own research to see if what they are telling you adds up.