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. Recent changes to rules for real estate agents 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. But what does their record say? They should be able to show you evidence, including final sale price, a selection of recent sales in different markets and positive client reviews to match. 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 and cutting keys 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.

Advertises correctly

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 on 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 and could mean more time on the golf course.

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 entice the fish to bring it in at just the right time, applying the right amount of pressure, and avoid loosing the fish. So too a real estate agent skilled in negotiation knowing the strategy, tools, and timing that lead to a premium price for your property.

Utilises technology

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 hone 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 %

When you list with a real estate agent, what are you really paying for? Based on the previous points, it should be experience, knowledge, negotiation and safe passage. 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 highly desperate or inexperienced real estate agent. An agent charging a higher % on the other hand can often indicate a higher level of experience, attention to detail and client satisfaction reflected in their list to sell ratio and sales record. The trouble is, if you get this initial hire wrong, you’re likely to miss out on a premium sale price. Or if the property doesn’t sell, you could end up paying twice when you bring in a more experienced agent to clean up the mess. Remember this “The cheapest agent is the one who gets you the highest sale price, not the one who charges the lowest %”

Someone you get along with

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, not one who delegates you to their assistant.