Choosing the right agent is a make or break decision when selling a home. Pick the right one and you’re half-way to being sold, but make the wrong call and it could cost you, literally.
All the property experts agree sellers should look for an agent with a history of strong, recent results in your suburb. Things like the average days on market and auction clearance rates give a clear, fact-based insight into how good an agent is, without any of the marketing spin.
“Go local” is the other piece of evergreen advice for sellers wondering which agent to go with.
A good agent should know as much about the area as possible, from what buyers in the area are looking for to what the historical trends are, which method of sale works and even down to things like which is the better of the suburb’s two primary schools.
It’s also a good idea to “road test” a few agents by posing as a buyer. Go to an open for inspection and see how they perform.
Nelson Alexander Ivanhoe partner and auctioneer James Labiris says buyers should definitely look for someone with a “proven track record in selling similar homes in the area”, meaning local is always best.
“If you can’t speak confidently about the location, then you won’t have a good chance of selling the benefits to the buyer,” he says.
Labiris advises getting out into the market to see who is selling properties like yours. Then meet with two to three agents and discuss their sales process.
While selling is ultimately a financial transaction, the “feeling” also matters, Labiris says. “You’ll be spending four to six weeks with the person, speaking daily and meeting weekly, so you want to make sure you get along and have a mutual understanding of the process and desired outcome.”
Read more: The ultimate home seller’s guide
What to ask your potential agent
Ask lots and lots of questions of potential agents to understand if they’re the right one, like the following.
- Does the agency have its own auctioneer or does it use an external auctioneer?
- Is the agent part of a network of offices or a single office? Is it a franchise?
- Are other agents who work at the company incentivised to introduce buyers?
- Who will be involved at my open for inspections? Will there be one or two agents?
- What experience do you have selling similar properties in the area?
- How much are you fees and marketing?
Ask them to take you through case studies of property sales. Ask them why they use certain approaches and what they think will work best for your property and why. If they’re suggesting an auction, ask why.
What does an agent actually do
While it’s self-evident what a real estate agent does, selling isn’t just about arranging a few opens, fielding offers or running auctions, Labiris says.
Nowadays, agents do much more, including:
- running the sales process from start to finish;
- arranging photography, floorplan and copywriting;
- working with sellers to set a price or reserve;
- marketing the home;
- running open for inspections and private appointments;
- discussing the positives and potential concerns of the home with buyers;
- helping buyers emotionally connect;
- conducting an auction if required;
- facilitating settlement and key handover.
Everything on the table
Adam Salemme and his wife Lisa recently appointed Nelson Alexander to sell their renovated two-bed home in the Melbourne suburb of Heidelberg.
While the couple had a pre-existing personal relationship with Labiris, they still spoke to a number of his former clients before sitting down to discuss working together.
“This is our first time selling, so we were mindful of making sure we did our due diligence. While we had a personal relationship already and we knew we got on on that level, we made sure we would be able to talk business too.
“Before we even signed on the dotted line, James explained how everything would run, what his strategy would be, the processes, everything. He told us things we hadn’t even considered before. It was very, very thorough and because of that, we know exactly what’s happening.”
Up next: What happens when you list your home for sale?