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How a Poor Agent Nearly Cost My Family $100,000

The importance of signing up with a good real estate agent cannot be overstated. Selling property is a stressful experience at the best of times, and the last thing a seller needs is an underperforming agent mismanaging the sale of their asset. Choose a poor agent, with limited local knowledge, and you may end up selling your home for considerably less than a buyer would have paid had it been marketed correctly. In some cases, the property may fail to attract any offers at all, and all you will be left with are dashed hopes and an advertising bill.

Nothing drums home the importance of a good agent quite like personal experience, and my family and I learned our own real estate lesson when we decided to sell my grandmother’s home after she passed away ten years ago. It was an upmarket, well-presented Gold Coast canal address that had been immaculately maintained over the years. The local real estate market was reasonably buoyant at the time, and my family had high hopes of a healthy sale result.

My father phoned the local real estate agent and invited him over to determine what the property would be worth on the open market. But the real estate agent my father spoke to never arrived, and instead he sent his assistant, which failed to impress him. “I remember thinking it was not a good sign that he couldn’t be bothered to get in the car and come over himself,” my father recalls.

The property was listed for sale and the first open for inspections were arranged. My father believed the house was worth close to $700,000, but the agent was convinced we would only secure offers in the low $600,000 range. As a result, he led many of the potential buyers who inspected the property to believe we would accept an offer at the low $600,000 mark. My father was adamant; we were in no hurry to sell the home cheaply. Although the agent was legally required to tell us all the offers that came in, we still felt he was wasting our time and leading buyers up the garden path.  After much frustration, we took the house off the market. The experience had not been a positive one and we felt it was best the property was rested for a while.

Weeks went by while we tossed up what to do with the property. One day, while we were cleaning out our grandmother’s garage, we received a cold call from a local real estate agent. The agent had just started her own business – although she was experienced in the industry – and was hungry for listings. She had noticed our grandmother’s house had previously been on the market but had not sold, and she wondered whether we would consider listing it with her? Sure, we thought, what do we have to lose? She carefully inspected the home, before turning to us and saying, “I think I could get you close to $700,000 for this.” Naturally, we listed with her, which turned out to be the best decision we made, as our grandmother’s home was finally in the hands of a capable, organised and experienced professional who was working tirelessly to get the $700,000 price we were after.

And that is exactly what she did. By the second week of open for inspections, she was courting an interested party who could see the value in the property. The agent was courteous with the potential buyer, but also extremely clear: the sellers were not considering offers in the low or mid $600,000 range. The offer that came in was a delightful $699,000. Needless to say, we accepted.

Comparison site LocalAgentFinder is a great way to compare the success of various agents in your area, and it helps sellers take the guess work out of choosing the right agent. By not investing our time in a full-market comparison, my family took a huge gamble on the property and we paid the price the first time around with a substandard agent.

Luckily, there was no mortgage on the home, and we could afford to be patient and re-list the property for sale a second time. But the experience made me wonder how many sellers have potentially signed contracts on offers they knew were too low just to be free of a financially and emotionally draining experience?

Perhaps they lost faith in the agent, but were compelled to sell the home for a lower price than they thought was reasonable so they could draw a line under the experience and resume their normal lives. In their rush to seal the deal, they potentially lost tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps even more — in our case, the difference in offers that the two agents brought to the table was close to $100,000.

Start your search for a qualified real estate agent today by registering your details at LocalAgentFinder. Sellers and agents have been connecting through this free online service since 2007, making it a trusted source of information.

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