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Real estate agents: how much experience should they have?

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The decision to sell your home is only the first step in what is often a long, drawn-out process. Navigating through the potential pitfalls of a property sale can be a stressful and worrying time without the right real estate agent at your side. From ascertaining the optimum listing price to attracting prospective buyers in sufficient numbers, a real estate agent is critical to the success of your sale.

However, with so many to choose from, selecting the agent who is best placed to secure a speedy and profitable sale can be tricky. There is always a judgement call to make between experience and the hunger of youth, however. So, how much experience should your chosen agent have?

Competence can only come with experience

It is vital that you meet with potential real estate agents and ask them about their experience and track-record of success. Ask those you interview how many times they have renewed their licence to practise, and ask to see some evidence of property sales they have secured over the course of the last 12 months. While knowledge counts for a great deal, only real-world experience will give an agent the tools required to generate speedy, profitable sales.

The pre-GFC house-price boom in Australia was great for homeowners and the industry in general. However, it also resulted in a sudden influx in the number of new agents coming to the market; some of whom have since exited, but many who only have experience selling in a rising market.

While the exuberance, tenacity and motivation of youth can be valuable commodities when trying to sell a property, there is simply no substitute for industry experience and an in-depth knowledge of the market.

Novice agents may move onto greener pastures

The promise of untold wealth and a lifestyle to match can be great motivational factors for new, inexperienced agents. However, without a reputation to rely on, they can often go several months without securing a sale - or the commission that pays their bills. For those without the real drive and determination to succeed, this can be enough to persuade them to call it a day.

Of course, there are many honest, genuine and hard-working novice agents in Australia, but hiring one does present a risk. An agent with limited experience may fall a little short when marketing the property and negotiating with buyers, and that can have a detrimental effect on the final sale price and how quickly you sell your property.

The real estate sector is a notoriously competitive, cutthroat industry to work in, and only the very quality novice agents will succeed and make a lifelong career out of selling property.

Experienced agents have seen it all before

An experienced agent will have already lived through this early stage of their career. An experienced real estate agent will also have suffered the stress and toil of those early years in the industry, so you can be fairly certain that they are committed to the vocation - and fully committed to seeing the sale of your property through to completion.

Experience teaches agents how to manage their time, persuasion skills and how to manipulate the market to the benefit of their clients. An agent who can hit the ground running as soon as a contract is signed can often expedite a property sale far quicker.

And their intricate knowledge of the nuances and intricacies of local markets can prove invaluable when trying to achieve the top end of average property prices in a particular area.

Can I get the best of both?

Novice agents will often acquire the experience they need by working alongside more senior agents. If you can ensure that such an arrangement is closely managed, it can provide you with the experience of a veteran agent together with the tenacity and sheer energy that comes with youth. Of course, you need to know that your interests will be represented in the most effective way possible.

If your property sale is being managed in this way, you need to make it clear from the outset that the major decisions and the overall strategy should be the responsibility of the more experienced agent. However, having a novice deal with the day-to-day minutia of the process should not pose a problem, providing that agent's work is being monitored.

Before a contract is signed, it's a good idea to have a detailed conversation about responsibilities and accountabilities - making it clear that you expect the major decisions to be the responsibility of the senior agent.

Why choose an agent with extensive local knowledge?

The property market is constantly evolving – on both the local and national level. The process of selling a property is therefore always changing, and it is littered with pitfalls and potential for problems.

An agent with experience will know exactly how to avoid these pitfalls, having dealt with them countless times in the past. An experienced real estate agent will also deliver several benefits that many, less experienced colleagues simply won't be able to offer.

  • Knowledge of all the major marketing opportunities in the area, as well as what works and what's overkill
  • Access to relevant and useful statistics about recent sales to help you set pricing strategies effectively
  • An up-to-date contact list of current buyers
  • In depth knowledge of how buyers are behaving, what is working/not working, and how to attract the right buyers to your property
  • Tough negotiation skills
  • A tried and trusted list of contractors and contacts for any work that needs doing.

Our Real Estate Agent Interview Checklist can help with the necessary questions you should be asking before you hire any agent to sell your property, and we also have a more in-depth article available on the questions you should be asking and the desired responses.

Are you interested in finding out who are the most experienced local experts in your area? Use our online search tool that intelligently compares and ranks real estate agents. All active real estate agents in Australia are considered. Agents cannot pay to appear in our search results, they have to earn their ranking by being the top sellers and delighting their clients.

Start searching for experienced, high performing real estate agents with OpenAgent.