A good real estate agent can make tens of thousands of dollars difference to your sale price, so it’s important to choose carefully. When you’re interviewing a real estate agent, by having great questions prepared ahead of time, you can walk into an interview with confidence. But choosing a real estate agent is tough, especially if you’ve never sold a property before. It can be stressful to determine what you need to know (and to be certain that you’re not missing anything).
Here are 10 questions to ask a real estate agent when selling a house:
1. “How long have you been a real estate agent for?”
In this industry, experience counts. But that doesn’t mean the agent with the most experience is the best choice by default. You’re looking for someone who’s experienced enough to handle all aspects of the sale, but who’s also enthusiastic and motivated enough to secure a buyer for you.
2. “What properties have you recently sold in the area?”
Agents will often specialise in a particular kind of property.
We would recommend an agent that has sold at least 5 properties similar to yours in the past year. They should be in a nearby suburb and be similar in price and type. You should also ask your agent if they have a database of clients that have missed out on previous sales. They might already have a few clients in mind that they can suggest your property to.
When using our comparison service, you can see the number of properties real estate agents in your area have sold.
3. “What selling price do you think I can achieve?”
Prospective agents will give you a sale price they think they can get for your property. The most important follow-up question to ask is, “What are you basing that on?” They should be able to support their conclusion with recent sales in your area of similar properties – both from their agency and others.
Make sure they can support the suggested sale price with evidence – you don’t want to fall for the trap of securing the agent who simply says they can get the best price for you.
4. “How much will I need to spend on advertising?”
Advertising takes place in two forms:
- Traditional – newspapers, signboards, agency window displays and brochures, etc.
- Digital – online listings on agency and third party websites, email marketing, etc.
Depending on the type of property and its location, digital media options may be enough. Have a look at what similar properties are doing in your area. For agents across Australia, vendor paid advertising (VPA) is ideal, however the practice varies by market, property type and agent.
Will your agent put money on the table for any marketing costs, or is it your responsibility? Find out to avoid any surprises and to help with negotiating commissions (if you bear all of the marketing outlays, the agent may be willing to reduce their rate).
5. “How long do you think it will take to sell my property (and why)?”
You won’t get an exact number from your real estate agent, but that’s fine. You’re trying to get a feel for their understanding of the current market, the factors impacting your area and how those factors will affect the selling process.
6. “How do you handle potential buyers’ questions?”
It’s important to see if your real estate agent is a people person. If an agent has a temper problem, for example, you probably want to know about it before they start talking to potential buyers about your property.
Ask your agent how they handle questions from buyers such as:
- How long has this property been on the market for?
- Why is the vendor selling?
- How much will the vendor accept?
Asking these questions is a great way to gauge your comfort levels with the types of responses your agent will give to potential buyers.
7. “Are your fees negotiable?”
You are not looking for the cheapest agent with this question. You are interested in what their fees include. You’re also looking for a good negotiator (a good agent will be able to confidently justify their price).
Commission levels vary widely depending on location and state.
8. “How should I sell my property (and why)?”
There are several different types of campaigns your agent may recommend, such as:
- An auction – a sale (usually in public) by an auctioneer in which property is sold to the highest bidder
- Expressions of interest (EOI) – a deadline is set by which potential buyers submit a bid of what they are prepared to pay
- Price on application (POA) – property will be listed with a sale price of “POA” so that vendors will need to contact the agent to receive details
- Tender – the selling of a property through seeking written bids
- Sale – the process in which potential buyers negotiate with a real estate agent to purchase your property
Campaigns will be market dependent. For example, Melbourne favours auctions whereas Brisbane generally doesn’t.
Another question worth asking is how they plan to arrange viewing of your property – is it via scheduled times or by appointment only?
9. “Do you have references I can contact?”
A good real estate agent will happily supply you with a list of previous clients that they have dealt with. Even a new agent will be able to provide some sort of positive reference, such as a past employer. Don’t be afraid to follow up with them to gain their feedback before deciding to appoint an agent.
Some examples of questions to ask previous references are:
- What did you like about the agent?
- How long did the property take to sell?
- Was there anything you thought they could have done better?
- Did the agent secure the sale price you wanted to achieve?
10. “What makes you different to other real estate agents?”
This question will allow the agent to demonstrate what stands them apart from their competition, both as an individual agent and as an agency. Find out what to look for in a real estate agent.
Interviewing a real estate agent – what’s next?
Now that you’re armed with great questions to ask when selling, you’re probably ready to find a great agent. You can compare real estate agents, including fees, commission, marketing strategy and more. If you’re still a little unsure on what to ask real estate agents when selling, our customer assistance team can help you prepare some more questions.
Once you’ve asked your real estate agent the above questions, and connected with your chosen agent, you can ask them about your property, and whether or not you need repairs, whether you should do any minor renovations, or whether you should stage your home.