Engaging a real estate agent to help sell your home

Home Renovation
Real Estate
Team MONEYME|17 March 2023| 9-minute read

When you decide to sell your home, it’s one of the biggest tasks you can take on. Not just because of the size of the transaction but also because of all the jobs that need to be done.

But working with a real estate agent is one way you can manage the work, lessen the stress and achieve a great result. 

From marketing campaigns to presale repairs, the real estate agent you engage will guide your through the key steps of selling your home.

How to choose the right real estate agent

The right real estate agent has industry experience, strong market insights, and knowledge of the local area, including recent property sales, current listings, and buyer demographics.

Beyond an informed agent, vendors also need to engage the help of someone who they’re comfortable with, who they trust, and who operates fairly.

Perth real estate agency dethridgeGROVES has been working with Fremantle sellers for over 40 years.

Christine Majeks, sales executive at dethridgeGROVES said one way to vet agents is to look at recipients of real estate accolades.  

“In Western Australia, especially, we have the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia awards, we have different notifications on real estate platforms. You look at that and see what their records are, what their sales records are in the area that you’re in,” Majeks said.

Strong communication is as important as a track record of successful sales. “You don’t want to go with somebody you don’t feel comfortable with,” she said.

Melbourne-based  Kay & Burton real estate agent Zoe Ho said prospective sellers should check out the open homes being run by agents in their area to see which ones they like. 

“It’s important for a vendor to see their agent in action prior to actually selecting them or even interviewing them,” Ho said. “I think that one of the best methods for prospective vendors to select prospective agents is to actually do a subtle interview through an open for inspection.”

After going undercover at the open home inspection prospective vendors have an opportunity to gauge the agent’s marketing skills, buyer interactions, and overall organisation. 

“You’ll see how they present a property, you’ll see how they handle an open, you’ll see how they handle queries, you’ll see what their form of follow up is”, she said. “I believe all of these insights should go into selecting an agent.” 

Ho said vendors should look for agents that have local knowledge, are engaging with the market, and are committed to showing the property. On the other hand, Ho said to avoid agents who appear pretentious, are always on their phone, or act distracted. 

Five tips for selecting a seller’s agent

  1. Look for a local agent who knows about local sales, buyer demographics, and the local market.
  2. Read online reviews, promotional material, and industry awards.
  3. Visit open house inspections to see how they manage a listing.
  4. Talk to agents about how they’ll prepare your property, their local insights, and their experience.
  5. Make sure you feel comfortable having open, honest, and frank conversations with your agent. 

The agent’s commission or fee for services is another matter for homeowners to consider. By law the commission is negotiable by both parties and can be a percentage of the sale price, a fixed fee, or a combination of both, according to a guide released by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

In terms of timing, homeowners selling their homes should engage a real estate agent in the process sooner rather than later.

“We strongly recommend getting us involved before you do any maintenance repairs or contacting a stylist because if you’re going to spend money on the property, we want to make sure you’re going to get that money back out as well and that it will enhance your sale,” Ho said. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommends sellers check the agent’s license, undertake independent research, pay close attention to all contracts and documents, assess all information for fairness and accuracy, and never sign blank sales authorities.

What makes a good agent-vendor relationship?

To achieve a smooth, stress-free, and successful sale it’s important to foster a good relationship with the real estate agent you choose to represent you and your property.

As opposed to a buyer’s agent, a seller’s agent is obligated to act in the homeowner’s best interests. But as the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia points seller’s agents must always remain fair to buyers.

Perth real estate agent Majek navigates the agent-vendor-buyer dynamic as the institute prescribes. 

“Every transaction we deal with is is a fantastic result for the vendor and also for the buyer,” she said. “The buyer’s feelings are important, even though we work for the seller.

“Most importantly, we as agents must remember to make sure that the buyer feels well and truly looked after in the process that emails are answered, every question they have, whether it’s small, whether it’s not, you get back to them.”

When an agent provides transparency around their role in the context of the vendor, buyer, and transaction they establish solid foundations for clear communication.

“Just having clear guidelines with marketing, the process, and working together rather than telling the vendor what to do is pretty important,” said Majek.

In a high-pressured, competitive industry the dynamics of an agent-vendor relationship will often come down to the style, experience, and approach of the realtor.

Majek said the agent’s confidence, knowledge, and empathy with the transaction influence the type of relationship that’s formed between the sellers and their chosen representative.

As much as an agent can influence the working relationship when selling a property so too can the vendor.

Working with vendors in Melbourne’s South Yarra, Ho said that reciprocated transparency, honesty, and trust were fundamental to developing a successful partnership between sellers and agents.

“Communication and transparency are really important in terms of letting your vendor know the most relevant information and up-to-date information so that when the time comes, they can make an informed decision,” she said. 

A relationship that produces open, honest, and clear communication allows a vendor to make an informed decision to sell their home with confidence. 

Why should you work with a real estate agent?

Whenever you seek specialised advice, services, or support there is always the option of doing it yourself. 

While you can sell your property yourself, there are a lot of benefits that come with engaging an agent.

First and foremost, the sales results an agent achieves often eclipse those reached in DIY sales.

“I think you only have to look at the results of a professional agent that does this day in day out as opposed to a for sale by owner in the prices achieved and the days on market to show that an agent’s worth their weight in gold,” said Ho.

In real estate, a short sales campaign is a good one. It’s often the case that the days on market for sale by owner are more than the days on market for sale by an agent.

“There has been a property on Sutherland Road, Armadale that’s for sale by owner that’s been running for a long time,” said Ho. “I’ve had four clients that have all offered on it, and the owner won’t take it. It’s been on the market for two and a half years.”

Ho said that in the last six months alone there have been at least four transactions of sales by an agent, all achieving results upwards of $800,000.

Vendors take on a considerable amount of responsibility when they forgo engaging a real estate agent.

“They would need to prepare the property, they would need to engage the stylists, they would need to approve the marketing, they’d need to negotiate it themselves, they would need to deal with their solicitor, their conveyancer, they would deal with their complete negotiation, and they would deal with their final inspection and any issues prior to settlement,” said Ho. 

The experience that vendors take on when they engage a real estate agent helps alleviate the stress of selling a home.

“We take the risk to make sure that the contracts are done right, the searches are done right. The identification of the vendors is correct for the buyers, all of the information given to buyers is correct and up to date. We do the searches for titles, we do the property report. So the information we’re sharing to the marketplace is true and correct,” said Majeks.

“All of those things you’re paying for that service to take the stress away from yourself as a vendor that might decide to go to market on their own.”

By utilising the expertise, experience and knowledge of professional real estate agents vendors mitigate the risk of making administrative mistakes, getting a poor price, or having a sale fall over.

“If you’ve got a car that’s not working right, you don’t take it to a butcher, you take it to the experts,” she said. “So use the experts to do and deal with one of the biggest investments of your life, whether it’s your family home or an investment property.”

What are the services a real estate agent provides?

From start to finish, real estate agents provide services that look to achieve a smooth, steady, and successful sale.

The advice starts from the first meeting you have with an agent before you’ve necessarily chosen them to represent you and your property.

“Our first recommendation is to have a chat and give you some recommendations on timing, styling, presentation, your home in comparison to others, what your buyer demographic, maybe, etc.,” said Ho.

The advice that agents offer is critical in helping vendors make one of many big decisions when selling their homes.

From picking a sales method to determining a price point, to choosing a marketing strategy, an agent’s advice is invaluable to making an informed decision.

“Like when we organise for the photographs to be done,” said Majeks. “It’s not just us telling the vendor it suits me at 10 o’clock on a Saturday morning to do photos, it’s when the property looks the best.” 

To prepare, market, and sell a property there are a lot of services that need to be outsourced to a third party. Staging a home requires a stylist, repair work requires tradespeople, and property reports require building inspectors.

“We have strong relationships with stylists, tradespeople, and marketing agencies, which enhances the vendor’s ability to utilise these people and to hit the timeframes that they want to hit”, said Ho.

“The earlier people come to us, the earlier we’re able to submit to editorial, the longer we’ve got to set something up, and the better it’s going to present.”

Real estate agents also pick up on the smaller, more specific tasks that might go amiss by those outside not working in the sector.

“We also getting people’s pools certified these days, things that people might not be aware of if they haven’t sold in the last five years, educating them on any changes in legislation as well,” she said.

When it comes to managing out-of-pocket expenses, agents can also help connect vendors with pay later solutions. 

Making the Australian Financial Review’s top ten most innovative companies list in the Banking, Superannuation, and Financial Services category, ListReady is one such solution.

The platform offers loans to vendors of up to $35,000 worth of listing costs to help prepare homes for sale.

Since launching in 2019, over 300 real estate agencies and more than 2000 agents have used the platform to cover listings costs and sell homes across Australia.

Learn more about how an agent can help you access ListReady today.

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