Your home is probably your single biggest asset, and it stands to reason that you want to realise its full potential when you decide to sell it. Of course, you can attempt to sell it yourself, but while that course of action may save you the cost of an agent's commission, you will be running the risk of achieving far less than its true market value.
But how do you entrust the sale of your biggest asset to a complete stranger? Well, you can start by taking five essential steps to finding a real estate agent you can trust.
Research their history of selling
Relevant experience in selling homes similar to yours is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a real estate agent. You need to know that an agent has a proven track record in achieving sales within acceptable timescales, and for their true market value.
There are online tools such as OpenAgent that allow you to research the sales record of agents in your area, as well as for comparing agents to their peers. It's important to keep in mind a number of factors when researching an agent’s history of securing property sales.
- How many sales did the agent secure last year?
- How long, on average, does it take the agent to secure property sales?
- Do the agent's initial asking prices compare favourably with the final sale prices achieved?
- Does the agent specialise in selling properties similar to yours?
A healthy, consistent and relevant history of selling property in your area probably points to an agent that can be trusted, but your research shouldn't end there.
Read customer reviews
The best people to ask about the skills, experience and integrity of an agent are their previous clients. Seeking customer reviews from people who have used the agent in question for a property sale in the past is perhaps the most effective way of ascertaining their trustworthiness.
Previous customers often leave reviews on OpenAgent, real estate websites, forums and discussion boards. These honest accounts of the services delivered by agents can be invaluable in your search for someone you can trust.
Factors to consider include:
- Was the agent open and honest about the achievable sale price from the outset?
- Was the agent always on hand to answer queries?
- Did the agent keep the client updated on how the sale was proceeding?
- Were all the agent's fees and commissions explained clearly at the beginning of the relationship?
- Were responsibilities and accountabilities clearly identified by the agent at the start of the selling process?
- Did the agent achieve a reasonable final sale price? And was it in line with what was promised at the start of the process?
Of course, searching for customer reviews on individual real estate agents in your area will be a labour-intensive and time-consuming endeavour, but there are online tools that can help you to find these reviews with the least amount of fuss.
Test them on their local knowledge
No one expects a real estate agent to have memorised pages and pages of historical sales data on their chosen area, but agents should be able to talk freely about general market trends.
If you want to get a feel for an agent’s knowledge and understanding of your property market, ask about average house prices, how long properties take to sell in the area and which of the local marketing opportunities are currently bearing fruit.
A conscientious agent with a working knowledge of your neighbourhood will also be able to talk to you about the competition you face in the market, as well as the level of demand in the area for homes like yours.
Arrange a one-to-one conversation
No matter how much research and analysis you do, there is no substitute for meeting an agent in person in order to assess their trustworthiness. You should try to ascertain how forthcoming the agent is with pertinent information, but you should be wary of claims that sound too good to be true.
A reliable agent with integrity will always be cautious when estimating sale prices and timescales, so an agent who makes a snap judgement on these issues should be treated with suspicion.
But remember when talking to an agent not to give all your cards away - this may affect your dealings with them, and the outcome of your sale.
Quiz agents on their network of contacts
The biggest asset any real estate agent has - apart from their experience and knowledge - is their network of contacts.
Not only should your chosen agent have existing relationships with buyers, they should have working relationships with various marketing outlets, as well as other agents in the area. This network will spread the reach of your property in a short span of time, and will also demonstrate that the agent is someone that others in the industry trust.
Selling a home in the current economic climate is not an easy feat - particularly if you want to achieve the upper end of your market's average selling price. However, by using OpenAgent.com.au, you can check the credentials and trustworthiness of more than 25,000 real estate agents in a matter of minutes.
Cutting edge software allows OpenAgent's online facility to sift through more than two million property sales. This can allow you to research the sales history of agents and read customer reviews on the services they have provided in a fraction of the time a manual search would take.
And once you have whittled the choices down to just a few, the real estate experts at OpenAgent will help you to choose the agent who best suits your circumstances.