Not all real estate agents are alike. Some will work harder than others to ensure you get the best price for your property and make the sales process as smooth as possible for both you and the potential buyers.

Your home is one of your most valuable assets, and as a key partner in the selling process it makes sense to choose the right listing agent. Like many aspects of the property game, some homework is crucial.

Shortlist some local agents

You don’t have to meet all the agents working in your area to find the best one. Ask around, talk to your neighbours and see if they can recommend anyone. Flick through your local newspaper and shortlist the agents selling similar properties to yours – and achieving sales.  Then call and arrange separate times for each agent to visit and value your property.

After a tour of your home it’s important to ask each agent:

  • What selling price is the property likely to achieve? Why?
  • What comparable sales and statistics led you to that price?
  • What will be the best method of sale for this place? Why?
  • How will you market this property? Signs, direct mail, internet, newspapers, window displays?
  • What will the marketing cost?
  • What open house dates and times do you suggest? Why are those days and times better than others?
  • How much commission do you charge? How negotiable is this?
  • How will you get the best price for this property?
  • What feature or features will be most attractive to buyers?
  • Do you recommend any improvements that will increase the chances of a sale?
  • Do you have any presentation tips that could attract a better price?
  • How have you negotiated buyers into paying a better price in the past?
  • What is your sales record? How many sales have you managed? How many of those properties sold and at what price? How many were in this area?

While you’re chatting, see if you actually get on with the agent. The selling process can take a few months and you’re likely to be in close contact over that time.

Check out the agent’s track record

When whittling down your shortlist, look closely at how the agents promote the other properties on their books. Agents that are proud of the service they provide should be happy to put you in contact with previous clients. If you can, ask those clients about:

  • The difference between the initial valuation and the final selling price
  • The agent’s local knowledge
  • How well the agent communicated with the vendor and the buyers

Watch out for the price/commission balance

Don’t choose an agent simply because they give you the highest valuation or lowest commission. You could be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Some agents will promise an unrealistic price, just to get your business, and then later, when it comes to the crunch, say the market has dropped and convince you to take a lower price. If they’ve asked for a high commission at the same time as giving you a high valuation, chances are they’ve calculated the lower “more realistic” price from the beginning.

You should also be wary of agents offering very low commission rates. Low commission offers them less incentive. They might not work as hard to get the extra dollars for your home. You should also check if you’ll be hit with charges even if your home doesn’t sell.

Continue to information about signing with an agent.

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