How to choose the best real estate agent to sell your property
After a while, all those photos of real estate agents with smiling faces posted on billboards everywhere start to look the same, and their pitch for listing your property doesn’t make choosing the right real estate agent any easier.
The problem with real estate agents is that the line between selling property and selling themselves can become blurred. Yet, choosing the right real estate agent can net you tens of thousands of dollars on a premium price, or prevent you from losing money on a desperate sale. Here’s how to move past the style to find the substance.
Licensed and qualified
A licence is not just a way of keeping dodgy operators out of the profession; it’s a measure designed to raise the level of professionalism across the industry. Changes to rules for real estate agents this year (2020) mean that agents need to demonstrate their competency before they are issued a licence or certificate. They must also undertake continuing professional development each year to make sure they remain up to date and competent in the skills and knowledge needed to do their jobs. You want the best, so ask about their licence and what further training and professional development they have done recently.
Experienced in all markets
Any real estate agent can tell you they’ve sold properties from Darlinghurst to Darwin, from penthouses to outhouses, and everything in between. What does their record say? They should be able to show you evidence, including final sale price, of at least a selection of recent sales in different markets. Most importantly, you want to see proof they have experience in your local market.
Has a support team
Supporting a local small business might give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, but not when it comes to selling real estate. A solo real estate agent operating without a support team is spread thin taking care of everything from picking up the mail to putting up for sale signs at properties. Time spent on those duties is time not spent on selling your property. Whereas having a support team means their attention is focussed on getting you a premium price.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: you can’t sell a secret. The more people see your listing, means more potential buyers, they compete against each other, and the price goes up. It’s simple market forces at work, and you have to be visible to work it to your advantage. That’s why you advertise. To advertise correctly means having a marketing strategy that identifies the essential buyers, uses the right tools to reach them, and enticingly presents your property to convert interest into action.
Still in the game (not semi-retired)
Much like the real estate agent operating without a support team, the semi-retired agent simply cannot dedicate the time and attention needed in today’s fast-paced and hyper-competitive property market. Experience counts, but being in the game means knowing the pulse of the market and being ready to pounce of opportunities the moment they pop up. Missing out on a sale could be down to something as simple as not returning a phone call ASAP. And having one foot in retirement also means less focus on honing and sharpening their skills.
A skilled negotiator
We could file this under ‘skills not taught at school or university. Yet, being a skilled negotiator is a trait common to successful people across a range of industries and walks of life. Just because the fish has taken the bait, doesn’t mean it’s going to end up in your esky. A skilled fisherman knows how to play the fish to bring it in at just the right time, applying the right amount of pressure, and avoiding being busted off. So too a real estate agent skilled in negotiation knows the tactics, tools, and timing that lead to a premium price for your property.
Technology is not a strategy; it’s a tool that has the potential to bring a new level of sophistication and effectiveness to how a real estate agent operates. From digital marketing campaigns that home in on potential buyers, to comprehensive databases, in-depth market data and more, successful agents adopt and deploy technology to their advantage. Ask them if they see technology as a game-changer or an industry destroyer, and you’ll soon know if they’re running a savvy operation.
Not the cheapest (or the most expensive)
When you list with a real estate agent, what are you really paying for? Based on the previous points, it’s experience, knowledge, and passion. So, picking up the phone and immediately asking the agent’s commission is not the right question to ask. A cheaper fee could mean a desperate or inexperienced real estate agent. A more expensive real estate agent could suggest one that is trying to maximise their hit and miss sales record. The trouble is that with each scenario, you’re likely to miss out on a premium sale price. Or if the property isn’t selling, you end up paying twice when you bring in a more experienced agent to clean up the mess.
Someone you get along with
Trust and real estate agents are not commonly spoken of together. But when you put your property, your home, in someone’s hands to fetch you a price that puts you on the path to the next chapter of your life, you’re are trusting them. Meet with each real estate agent you’re considering listing with to see if you like them. This person is going to be speaking to you on an almost daily basis. At times they might have good news, and at times they might have to tell you hard truths. It pays to be able to get along and build mutual respect, which is the basis of trust and a successful relationship.
They’re prepared to get their hands dirty
While it would be nice to have a team of go-getters making record sales while the top dog sips cocktails on a yacht in Sydney Harbour, the reality is that you can’t outsource success. It doesn’t matter how long a real estate agent has been in business, how many sales they’ve made in their career; all that matters is selling the property that is in front of them. And that means being prepared to roll up their sleeves and oversee the details, take ownership of the listing and micromanage the sale. You want a real estate agent that is all in.
Nothing excites me more than hearing the phrase, “it can’t be done”. To outsiders, selling real estate can look like a straightforward business, but there are numerous challenges and pitfalls that always make it interesting. But I love a challenge. I love working with people and helping solve problems. I’m the sort of person who takes on a sale that others have put in the too-hard basket. What I get out of it is the satisfaction that I’ve helped someone with a major moment in their lives, passing on my knowledge and experience gained from 23 years in the industry to help clients achieve their property goals.