Forewarned is forearmed: know the facts before choosing a real estate agent.


You probably know someone that had a bad experience selling their home. It really frustrates me how common it is.

Understanding how to pick a real estate agent is critical to having a great relationship that leads to sales success.

The biggest issue I’ve found is people think we all do the same thing to sell homes.

This couldn’t be further from the truth!

The initial stage of the relationship is important for everyone involved.

So before we meet I wanted to warm the conversation by providing you with the following ‘ice-breaker’ questions to think about.

I recommend not signing with an agent until you know some important information such as the following.

Q:

Will you be the person actually selling my home or will it be one of your sales associates?

Often vendors will meet with an agent and decide to go ahead with them, only to find out that the person selling their home is an office junior or Sales Associate. The agent gets the associate to do the marketing, show people the home and even start negotiations of offers. Sometimes the original agent doesn’t even attend the property again! The vendor usually finds out too late to change anything and many are too embarrassed to say anything about it to the agent.

Q:

Will you be the person showing buyers through private viewings or open inspections. If so how many other homes do you have listed for sale and how will you make sure my home gets full priority and attention?

Some agents have 15, 20 or even 30+ properties for sale at any one time. It may sound impressive until you stop and think - how can they possibly physically go to that many properties? Either they only go to the ones they perceive will be easiest to sell, an office Sales Associate goes in their place instead or worse still they don’t show anyone the property at all! Don’t risk being the vendor who gets told sorry you miss out this week, I’m too busy.

Q:

What specific method have you used to determine the value of my home?

A common tactic of some agents is to give over-inflated price expectations to vendors about their property, hoping to make them seem more attractive and trying to get vendors to sign with them. The price discussion is usually an opinion and the agent is overly confident and promises a quick result. Professional, responsible advice on price is based on detailed research, including evidence of recent sales in the area of properties that have similar characteristics and it should be fully explained by the agent. Unfortunately, the agents who give false or misleading advice either cause the property to sit on the market for weeks or months resulting in a damaged campaign. Or worse still once the vendor has listed with them they start a conditioning process and continually push for a price reduction. In most instances, the vendor ends up getting a below-market result, while the agent still collects their fee and moves onto the next sale.

Q:

How long have all the homes you have for sale at the moment actually been on the market for?

Some agents are high volume/transaction agents. These agents put most of their focus into listing new properties for sale, rather than doing what they are supposed to do which is sell the property. Sadly the vendor and their property then risk becoming just a number to them. The agent may cut corners and fail to do critical things that make a difference or they focus only on 2 or 3 other properties they perceive as easy to sell. Instead, they let most properties sit on the market week after week, month after month and just hope a buyer will eventually come along. They often push the vendor to accept low offers. Properties don’t sell themselves and unfortunately, it’s a proven fact that the longer a home has been on the market for the lower the price buyers will pay for it. Don’t risk your valuable home being one of those properties.

Q:

Why do you list all your homes as for sale by auction or why is it you only do inspection by appointment?

Many agents are one dimensional in their approach. They do things the way they like it - rather than what’s actually in the best interests of the vendor they are supposed to be working for. A professional real estate agent should be able to tailor a campaign to suit a vendor’s unique circumstances no matter what approach is required because every vendor and their home is different. It’s the only way to get the best possible result.

Q:

Why have you told me to not put a price on my property and instead require everyone to call you by advertising as Contact Agent?

In unique circumstances this is a bona fide strategy, however, in most circumstances, it is a very risky approach and not one to enter into lightly. If an agent has been honest with you around price there is no need to hide it from buyers. Make sure you find out what special reason it’s been specifically recommended for your property. Buyers frequently report they are actually put off by homes advertised with no price and often disregard them. They regularly report being hounded by agents for their personal details when they call them, often in an attempt by the agent to see if the buyer also has a future property to sell. As a result instead of getting the maximum number of buyers, there is a real risk of alienating 20-30% of the possible market. Unfortunately, it’s usually used as free marketing for a real estate agent and is really a way to help get them their next listing at the expense of the vendor.

Q:

Do you have a data base of buyers for my area. If so how do you actually build your data base? How many properties have you sold in my area in the last 12 months?

Often an agent will claim to have a database of buyers. You need to know if they are genuine buyers that have been pre-qualified by the agent or are they simply a list of names. Most importantly are they interested in your specific area or are they more general and interested in some other part of the Metro area. Agents can only have genuine buyers if they are actively selling properties in the area.

Q:

Why do you want me to spend so much money on advertising in the newspaper and what guarantees can you give me?

Newspaper advertising is very expensive and there are no guarantees about who will see it and even if they are a buyer looking in your area. Agents pushing newspaper advertising often want to promote their real estate brand and their profile and you’re paying for it! If there is no proven data about who has actually looked at the advert and what direct action they’ve taken, then you could be wasting your money.