Selling a property can be a challenging and stressful experience, but it can also go smoothly with the right agent. The relationship and communication between the agent and the seller can greatly impact the success of the sale process. Choose an agent who you feel comfortable working with and who you believe will effectively represent your interests.
As a property seller, it is important to consider what you are looking for in a selling agent. Every seller has different needs and priorities, so it is important to identify and clearly communicate your specific requirements to potential agents. This will help you find an agent who is well-suited to your needs and who can help you achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and request references or examples of past work to get a sense of an agent’s style and approach.
Here is a short list of just some of the agent types that are out there
- High pressure, high intensity agent
- Low-key, patient style salesperson
- Transactional-based agent, focused only on pushing for a sale at any price
- Highly competent, skilled, and trained agent
- The all-talk, no action agent
There are various factors that you may want to consider when looking for the right agent to help you sell your property and some great questions you can ask when interviewing prospective agents.
When chatting to agents most people want to know what their property is worth. It is an important question. Here is the big tip though. When interviewing agents hold off asking this question until later in the interview process. The reason is, the real estate agent is not a valuer, they are not a buyer. The agent is a classic middle person between you and the open market. Their job is to negotiate, market and close the sale on your behalf. Therefore, you are better served to ask pointed questions that cut to the heart of their skill, knowledge and ability in negotiating, marketing, and closing a sale.
When you do get around to exploring the price of the property there are a couple of considerations. At the interview stage BEFORE the house is on the market explore the COMPARABLE sales from your area. That is similar properties to yours which have sold recently. Do the properties, prices and data of the sales and the attributes of the sold properties align with your property? If you can’t find comparable sales that match yours, a buyer may have the same issue and could question your price. If your property is similar to another one recently sold down the road, but is listed for $150,000 more, then it doesn’t make sense to market yours at a considerably higher level.
Once the house is on the market and you have buyers coming through you need to then assess the Direct Market Feedback. Direct market feedback is the feedback from the actual buyers in relation to the property. It is too big, too small, great spot, busy spot, and most of all what do the buyers think in relation to the price? They are the ones actively looking at everything and their feedback will assist in providing a guide as to whether yours is priced at the correct level.
Employing an agent is not about employing someone so savage they scare prospective buyers away, nor is it about employing a new best friend. It is important that there is a relationship and mutual respect between both parties. Like any type of relationship, one based on respect will always achieve a more positive outcome than one that is not.
We talk about two different types of trust and suggest that when considering an agent to work with that you ask yourself “Do I have both Affective AND Cognitive Trust with the agent?”
Affective Trust is the trust you have in your potential agent as a person. Be careful with this one, lots of agents are “nice and friendly” people. They are in sales, that’s somewhat normal. You will want to dig a little deeper however and explore google reviews and ask others about the agent and their experiences with them. The Geelong real estate world is a small one, it is likely that you will be able to find someone you know who has dealt with your potential agent either professionally or personally. Be wary of the “lots of sales” trap, just because an agent has high numbers of sales, as the survey suggests, doesn’t mean that all these clients are delighted with the agent, you’ll need to look beyond just the numbers. It’s far better to choose an agent who sells houses for high prices rather than one who sells a lot of houses. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of a more personal nature to ensure their values align with yours. Has the agent done what they said they would do? Are they on time and well-presented? Check out their social media profiles. How do they act out of their professional arena? All these things will come into play with affective trust.
Cognitive Trust is the trust you have in the competence of the agent. This comprises their market knowledge, their strategy, and their proven processes around how to best sell your property. This strategy should be how they centre the sale around you – the client – and not a sale process that serves them and their profile or ego. They should be able to prove they know how to achieve the highest price with a good track record.
The journey towards being successful in any endeavour often follows 4 stages and real estate sales is no different. Think about which type of the below your potential agent falls into:
Unconsciously competent the epitome of an ethical professional, one of the rare 5% who naturally acts in the best interests of their client who has been doing so over a long period, keeps looking for ways to improve and is someone who has a trail of delighted customers.
Consciously competent This type of agent works and studies hard and intentionally implements a proven strategy with good results.
Unconsciously incompetent This type of agent is often not aware they are putting their client at risk. They are typically very nice and engaging but may have been poorly taught, not taught at all or their training doesn’t revolve around best practice. They can be unaware of how their whole strategy or even use of particular words, for example, can be detrimental to client outcomes. This type of agent believes what they are doing is right but can potentially cost their client thousands of dollars. Both the client and agent are often unaware of the damage done.
Consciously incompetent this agent knows what they are doing is not in the best interest of their clients and not best practice, but they do it anyway, they will deliberately deceive anyone in order to make a sale, the worst kind of agent and person.
Open and Transparent Dialogue
Open and transparent dialogue works hand in hand with trust. This is around holding a safe space where your agent can disclose both the positive and negative aspects of your property and/or market conditions. An agent who throws around positives like confetti to win favour with you is not providing you or your house with any benefits. If there are elements of your property that might be holding up the sale or holding the sale price back an earnest discussion may in turn be able to overcome any roadblocks and get closer to the result you want. If you and your agent are unable to have open discussions the buyers will certainly let you know if there are any issues through either A: no interaction or inspections B: inspections but no offers. The only thing worse than knowing about a blind spot is not knowing. Respect and value the agent that tells you pertinent information you don’t necessarily want to hear.
A good question to ask is what are the outcomes we can expect once the property goes on the market and what strategies do you have to combat these outcomes?
Cost and Risk Component
We are all susceptible to cognitive bias, hearing what we want to hear or seeing what we want to see. “You look like you have lost weight”. “Your children are so well-behaved”. “Your house is worth 3 million dollars”. “Yes, the market is falling but not for properties like yours”.
When it comes to interviewing agents, you are likely to be asked to spend substantial amounts of money on advertising and presentation, based on the agents’ recommendations. The vendor is putting their money where the agent’s mouth is. This can be dangerous?!
A couple of questions to ask are:
- Who is taking the risk with the marketing costs?
- Is advertising promoting the property or the agent?
- Who pays for the marketing if the property isn’t sold?
The best agents will advise you to decrease the risk for you, their client (the vendor).
After Listing Service
The least asked but one of the most important questions to understand relates to the agent service and communication levels once you have signed on the dotted line.
- Is the market feedback provided after every inspection or once a week is it via email, phone, or text?
- Do we meet in person to discuss the campaign, via text or email?
- Does the agent answer their mobile when you call them or are you now ghosted?
Is that super optimistic selling agent now telling you what a ghastly shack your magnificent mansion has turned into since you put it on the market? Overpricing and excessively praising the home to get the listing and then relentlessly criticizing the same home once it’s on the market, to get the listing price down to a saleable price, is a tactic as old as the hills. Instead look for agents who are, as mentioned above, able to hold respectful discussions with you around the property and any direct buyer feedback once it is on the market. Remember it is not the agent who sets the price, it is the market. Once the property is on the market the most important thing is for the agent to report back in a factual way the feedback they are receiving about the property. This advice may require a change of direction from your initial conversations to provide you with the best outcome, as a vendor, be open to using the data and adjusting direction if you are not achieving the initial goal.
A good question to ask before engaging your agent is are you able to provide me with the phone numbers of some your past 10 clients? After all it is a job interview for the agent and a standard part of the job process is a reference check, this is a modified version of this.
When selecting an agent there is certainly a lot to take in. Our advice is to ask smart questions. We have touched on a few in the article. If you’d like either a hard or soft copy of our booklet “8 Questions Smart Sellers Ask”. Simply email email@example.com for your copy. It is a good tool to have prior to talking to agents.