Whether you’re selling your first home or an investment property, it’s generally a process that takes both a financial and emotional toll. Finding a real estate agent that suits you and your situation is key to ensuring a smooth sale process and a happy settlement.
We’ll take you through the things worth considering on your path to finding a suitable real estate agent.
What do I need to know?
- Identify which real estate agencies are most prominent in your local area
- Word of mouth recommendations and online reviews or testimonials can be really helpful in choosing an agent
- Meet two or three agents in person to learn more about their strategy and sales processes and always make sure they have a valid licence
- Read through any contracts or documents carefully and if you don’t understand something, seek clarification and/or professional advice
Go for a drive
One way to start finding agents is simple enough: jump in your car, go for a drive around your suburb and take note of all the ‘For Sale’ signs you see. You’re likely to come across at least five or six different agents, maybe more.
Take note of any patterns you see as well. You might notice a particular agent representing a specific property type such as a new townhouse or an older unit.
By attending local inspections and auctions, you can see how agents interact with prospective buyers first-hand. These events can also be great opportunities to ask agents questions about their knowledge of the property and the local area.
Importantly, you don’t just want an agent who knows their stuff, but someone who knows how to connect with people and build rapport.
The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) deputy president and Cunningham’s Real Estate principal John Cunningham spoke to realestate.com.au1 about what it takes to find a good agent.
‘The agent people should be looking for is someone who can engage and nurture buyers,’ he said1
Cunningham also believes that 80% of the decision making process when buying a property is emotional, so agents need to be well equipped with people-skills that are good enough to engage buyers1.
Meet and greet with specific questions
Once you’ve narrowed it down to two or three agents, arrange a time to meet them and talk about what you’d like to achieve with your own property sale.
A face-to-face meeting rather than a phone call could allow you to get a better feel for their overall strategy and sales process. And you’ll also be able to tell how comfortable you are with them – the more comfortable you are with them, the more likely they are to engage the right buyer.
Among other questions, you might ask them:
- How many years have you been working as a real estate agent?
- Could you take me through some of your recent sales in my area?
- Will you be my go-to point of contact through the whole sale process?
- What’s my home worth and can you explain your reasoning behind that figure?
- How will you achieve the best price for my home?
- How much commission will you make from the sale of my home?
- Are there any other costs involved such as marketing fees?
While you’re getting to know the agents in your local area, it’s also worth broadening your own knowledge about the property market. The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) is a good resource for staying up to date with the latest research and information about the property market across the country.
The organization keeps both consumers and agents informed about what’s happening in the real estate industry. And true to the nature of real estate, it also subdivides itself into state-specific categories, so check your state’s division on the REIA website for further information.
Check the license
As noted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), you should always make sure that the real estate agent you’re dealing with has a valid license2. Not only do these licences prove that agents have the proper training and qualifications to help you, but that they have also passed all the relevant conduct checks.
The ACCC also advises that you check these licences with your local state or territory consumer protection agency. As part of this, you’ll usually need one of the following:
- The license number
- The trading name
- The business name
With any one of these details, you’ll be able to check if your real estate agent is licensed – just use one of the websites below:
- Victoria: Consumer Affairs Victoria – Public Register
- New South Wales: Service NSW – Check a real estate agent licence
- Queensland: Queensland Government – Check a Licence
- Northern Territory: Northern Territory Government – Public Register
- South Australia: Government of South Australia – Check Occupational Licence Holders
- Western Australia: Government of Western Australia – Consumer Protection Licence and Registration Search
- Tasmania: Property Agents Board of Tasmania
Proceed with care
Of course, just because an agent is licensed, this doesn’t mean you can completely throw caution to the wind. You should still take steps to protect yourself against any possible misconduct.
Among other things, here are some tips the ACCC recommends:
- Always read the contracts: You should make sure that you thoroughly understand any document before signing it. Ask your agent about any costs, timeframes or cooling-off periods that you’re not quite clear about and seek legal advice if you’re ever unsure about the terms of a contract.
- Never sign blank authorities: This also includes blank rental agreements and contracts of sale. This is partially because an unscrupulous agent could then fill in the blanks with terms that you didn’t accept.
- Make sure you get the right information: All the information that the agent gives you should be fair and accurate. They shouldn’t leave out any of the important details that might influence your decisions.
Again, doing your research can be extremely helpful here. You may wish to look at the going prices for homes in your area. This will give you a good point of comparison for your own house – especially if an agent is pushing a price that’s noticeably lower or surprisingly higher.
If you know people who have recently sold a home, ask them if they’d recommend the real estate agent they used. Word of mouth recommendations and online reviews/testimonials are worth looking into.
What comes next…
Finding a real estate agent to sell your house can take a fair amount of time and effort. It’s only natural if you need to take a breather once everything’s sorted, but it’s also worth thinking about what comes next.
For instance, are you looking to buy a new home after selling your property? Maybe you’ve even found the house of your dreams but still need a little extra for the asking price.
Well, if you’re considering a home loan for a new house, then we might be able to help.
At iSelect we’ve partnered with Lendi to make it easier to find a great deal on a home loan*. Click here to get started comparing from a range of lenders online, or give Lendi a call on 1300 186 260.
2 Source: Real estate | ACCC