If you’re thinking of selling your home, then you may already have an agent or be familiar enough with those in your local area to choose one. However, that may not always be the case – too much time may have passed since you last interacted with agents, the market may be too different now, or you may just feel like you need a fresh approach. Either way, here are a few tips to help you navigate just how to find the perfect partner to help you sell your property and get the results you want.
1. Put your trust in the people you know
Word of mouth should always be your first port of call, as it may save you a lot of time and effort. Talk to your friends, family, neighbours, the owner of the local café – whoever you know that may be able to point you in the right direction towards an agent to suit your needs. It might be as simple as 2 or 3 people recommending the same agency, then you walking into their office and having a good experience. Sometimes it doesn’t take much, but personal stories from an agent’s clients of success, satisfaction and results, are extremely valuable. Much more valuable in fact than whatever your first impression is, or what the agent will say about themselves.
Generally, if someone has had a good experience, they will be more than happy to connect you with their agent. Don’t get caught out though – sometimes people’s positive experience can be just down to personality. ‘Oh we loved them’ doesn’t necessarily translate into ‘they got us the best price and gave us a great experience overall’. Ask what they loved about their agent specifically and be sure your contact can list what that agent’s service included, that helped them get the results they wanted.
2. Let your instincts loose in the local area
If you already have a trusted real estate brand you deal with regularly then half of your work is done. Look for their agent in your local area and drop into the office to say hi. You may even be able to get a recommendation from your last agent for your next, if you have moved out of his or her patch. If you do not have this intel up front however, you’ll need to do some good old fashion detective work. An easy way to find the agencies in your area is to open up google maps and zoom in on your location. Then type ‘real estate agents’ into the search field and you should see a number of red markers dropped on the map, showing you agency names and locations. If you are in the inner city there may be dozens, in a regional area perhaps just a select few.
Now that you know where they are, it’s time to stroll around a little, drop in and say hi and make some general enquiries. How you are greeted and treated in their office will go a long way to helping you cut down that list to a select few. Once you have a shortlist of agencies, you can then start researching agents, making some calls and setting up plans. Do not underestimate the value of first impressions – your instincts almost always tell you how you feel about people day-to-day; this is no different. You should feel like their approach to your property needs will be aligned with your expectations, that they will be trustworthy and will take care of you in the process, rather than just pursuing their commission.
3. Find out about the agent’s history and experience
Nobody wants their property sale to be training ground for some agency’s new kid. When you meet with different agents, ask them a little about their history – how long they’ve been an agent for, how long they’ve been with their current agency, how long have they lived and/or worked in the local area? All of these questions will indicate to you just how informed that agent may (or may not) be about the local area and whether they have the expertise you need. Their experience in real estate is also important – their longevity in the industry will be signposted with all the market highs and lows, the Global Financial Crisis, recessions, changes of government and so on. All the kind of upheavals that will have tested their skills, deepened their insights and sharpened their instincts.
All the smooth talk in the world is nothing when compared to the experience of an agent who has had to navigate tricky financial markets, helped a bereaved partner sell the family home, sold a unit for a couple upsizing for a new baby, helped emotiuonal empty nest parents cope and move on to something more practical, or witnessed dreams torn apart as fires and floods devastate regional towns. This kind of history creates perspective, understanding and resilience and an agent that brings those to the table will not only sell your house, they’ll become a trusted friend.
4. Check out the numbers
On the pragmatic side, you can always look at their stats – the numbers don’t lie after all. Most agencies will list their team members on their website and many sites will also include the properties the agent has recently sold, or has currently listed as well as what method was used to sell the porperty. If there isn’t enough information for you on the website, make some notes and ask them some specifics when you meet them in person or check agent reviews websites. Remember to make sure their experience is in line with your needs – if they have more commonly sold apartments than houses this may be an issue for your 4-bedroom family home.
Most will be happy to talk about their experience – especially if the results were great. Knowing the kinds of success, they have had selling properties locally in the last 12 months or so, as well as in the more distant past, will help you gain a more solid understanding of just how good they are. Not only should you get a sense that they can actually close the deal, but ideally also exceed their clients’ expectations at the same time.
5. Find out just how much bang you’ll get for your buck!
The crucial information you’ll need to find out is what marketing strategy they propose, how much that will cost, and what they are going to charge you in sales commission. Their initial property appraisal will be a good indicator to you of how aligned you both are on your property’s market value. Discussing their appraisal will also give you insights – what price you should set and why, what marketing would be involved and will it be included in the costs, what time frame do they think the property will be on the market for. It’s also useful to find out what kind of technology their company is using – some have adopted incredible tools that really streamline things and boost your property’s potential for a great result. Knowing all this helps you understand how the agents' commissions work and puts their commission on your property sale into perspective.
In thinking over the costs, it’s also worth mentioning that spending more doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting the best service. Don’t be lured by fancy advertising and shiny things. Big name agencies, boutique agencies and agents out on their own are all doing the same thing – it’s how they do it that differs. Their own values to deliver you the best experience will shine through.