Make that agent work

Posted: 10.15.2010

‘Financy’ draws on her experience in the world of finance. She writes financial education articles, presents online finance, real estate and business news reports for the Finance News Network and produces training videos for Kaplan Professional. She writes regular blogs for her own website Financy – where she aims to present finance information a bit ‘fancy’.

Forget “pie in the sky” property market appraisals, when it comes to selling your property – enlisting the right real estate agent is as much about service as it is about price. The challenge however, is finding an agent who can deliver on both.

It’s also important to realise that “dodgy” agents, just like dodgy financial planners and lawyers, are not the norm of the industry – real gems are out there, so put them to work!

Where people have had bad experiences with agents is when they don’t enlist the right agent to help them. Instead they become dazzled by often unrealistic property estimates and they don’t ask enough questions about the agent’s experience and reputation.

One of the first warnings signs is where an agent drastically discounts their commission in comparison to other agents just to get your business.

The truth is that when an agent really starts to cut back on his/her service fee, they’re cutting back on their own commitment to your property, and ultimately that will be reflected in final sales price.

Remember: commission is the income that is earned for selling performance, so research what is realistic in the current market.

In Australia, most real estate agents are either on a low salary plus commission or they are commission only – which is why the commission rate is a driving force for them to achieve the best possible result for the client.

So how can you enlist a good agent and importantly someone who doesn’t make you squirm when the phone rings – because you fear being pressured into a sale.

Choosing an agent will usually take into account three things:

* The best sale price that the agent believes is achievable
* Their commission cut
* And the advertising costs attached. (Often advertising fees are confused with the agent’s commission – but these are completely different)

Basing your decision on these points alone is a good place to start however don’t be afraid to get a bit tougher.

Sydney property expert Kerrie Rogers recommends asking agents five additional questions to gauge their sales performance and their level of communication/service.

Service is the key word here because let’s face it, doing all the chasing yourself can be an exhausting task so it’s good to know upfront if the agent is committed to really working your property.

When an agent (an ideally have at least three agents quote) visits your property to do a market appraisal, consider asking the following:

* Do you enjoy selling?
* Are you able to provide a list of your last 10 recent sales, including the sales prices you achieved? (An agent’s sales history can speak for itself)
* What is the average time frame you take to achieve a sale?
* Where was the last property you sold and can I call the vendor to ask them about their selling experience with your company?
* Will you be available and easy to contact during the sale process, through to settlement?

These questions will help you to ascertain whether you can work with the agent and whether they have anything to hide.

Another tip when it comes to choosing a real estate agent is to “go local” and pick an agent who understands the local market and the age demographic of buyers.

Any local agent worth their salt should know the current buyer profile for your property and have names of potentially interested buyers ready to buy in their database.

A good agent should also be someone who understands the appeal of your property and what it is going to take to improve that appeal by enhancing the features and benefits.  Often a sales agent will suggest doing a little “touch up” work or rearranging some furniture if they feel it will add value to the sales price.

And finally, when it comes to selling your property don’t underestimate the power of marketing as successful property presentation, professional photography and written copy, are essential in attracting several interested buyers – and you do want several buyers as the forces of demand will help drive up the sales price.

It’s actually amazing how many buyers are turned off properties because the marketing of the property is poor and they often think there must be something wrong with the property itself, when the problem is that the photos are either too few, too dark or just plain ugly.

The ability of an agent to attract buyers should be evident by their presentation, so next time you are on the hunt for a good agent scope out how their office looks, especially the shop front, and whether it meets your standards.

And remember don’t be a victim to dodgy agents – take control and get picky – the good ones are out there.

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