Just as you wouldn’t purchase the first home you see, it doesn’t make sense to sign a contract with the first real estate agent who contacts you. It’s vital to compare real estate agents before selling your property, to ensure that you find someone with the right qualifications and skills. Although it’s tempting to simply choose an agent you already know or one based on a referral, taking a hard look at data that shows each agent’s experience and sales record can yield more positive results.
Commission and Fees
Naturally, one of the first qualities that many sellers wish to compare is the agent’s commission rate. Commissions are one of the first things that sellers tend to use when comparing agents. However, a low commission doesn’t guarantee a great deal. Agents could be charging lower fees due to their inexperience, or they may charge higher fees elsewhere to make up for it. Be sure that you ask for a full breakdown of the fees you can expect to pay, including marketing and advertising costs, auctioneer fees, and other associated costs. Although agent fees are one set of data to compare, there are many other important factors to keep in mind as well.
An agent’s experience is another important factor to look at. When you start receiving proposals and comparing agents using the service at LocalAgentFinder, you can take notes on the following aspects of their experience:
- How many years of experience does the agent have in real estate in general?
- How many years of experience does the agent have in your specific community?
- Is the agent a member of the Real Estate Institute? Does your agent conform to all legal and ethical regulations?
As you compare and contrast experience levels, you’ll also want to prepare a few questions to ask before you make a final decision. Different agents may have different marketing strategies. You can ask to see examples of previous marketing proposals or strategies, to see what the agents have done in the past. In today’s multimedia society, the most effective strategies tend to incorporate a wide variety of media. This could include online advertising, print based advertising, and access to a database of current buyers.
Pay attention to how the real estate agent advertises his or her own services, as this could be an indicator of how your own property might be handled. This could also show you just where they put the majority of their time and money.
All qualified and experienced agents will be able to provide you with references. When you are comparing real estate agents using online tools and proposals, don’t forget to get in touch and ask for the names of the past three clients that the real estate represented. Follow up on these leads and give the references a call, to find out more about their experience. By asking for the last three clients rather than three general referrals, you’ll get a more representative sample of the agent’s past customers and their levels of satisfaction.
There’s nothing like hard facts and figures to make you feel more secure with your choice of real estate agent. An agent with a record of high priced sales can be very attractive on paper, as you hope for a similar scenario in your own case. Yet facts alone don’t tell the full story. The high price may be due to recent renovations, for example. In addition to looking at sales data, you can ask the following questions:
- How many sales has the agent had in the past six months? How recent was their last sale?
- What was the average listing time of these past sales?
- What were the starting sale prices compared to the final sale prices? This will help tip you off regarding the agent’s negotiation skills.
You can also ask the agents you are comparing for an informal appraisal of your property. This number may vary widely among agents. Beware of overly inflated numbers, because these may be a sign that the agent is simply trying to land you as a client. Do they base their numbers on a Comparative Market Analysis or do they ask you for your own opinion before giving theirs?
As you grow closer to drawing up a legal contract with the top candidates that you’ve compared, you’ll want to understand just what you’re getting into legally. Find out what the length of the listing agreement is. Typical lengths could include 60 or 90 days. Also be sure to determine what recourse you will have should you be unhappy with the agent’s services.
Finally, it’s important to compare each agent’s level of availability. An agent without any listings or clients could lack experience, but one who is overloaded won’t have the time and attention to devote to your sale. Keep the following questions in mind as you compare availability:
- Is the professional in question a full or part-time agent?
- How many listings do they currently have?
- Will you be working directly with the estate agent, or do they refer work to other members of a team?
- How is the agent’s time designated? Does the agent spend more time on higher priced properties?
These types of questions will give you a better idea of how much time and energy the agent will have to actively market and negotiate your property with buyers.
These factors are all important ones to consider when choosing the right real estate agent for your needs, but in the end it may also come down to a personal feeling that you have. Go with your gut and choose a professional who you feel comfortable with. The right real estate agent will not only be trustworthy but will have the data to back up their proposal.
You can get started with the process of comparing many of Australia’s most qualified real estate agents by registering at LocalAgentFinder. This free comparison service allows you to gain access to thousands of experienced agents, who you can narrow down by location, experience, and other relevant data. This is far easier than wading through the internet for information or relying solely on referrals.
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