When it comes to selling your house, the biggest decision you’ll make is choosing the agent. You’re choosing to put all your trust into one person, in the hopes that they will get you the best deal. It may seem daunting, but asking the right questions and properly interviewing prospective agents will give you the comfort you need to choose the right agent, and achieve sales success.
- How much will it cost to sell?
The obvious part of this question is asking about the agent’s commission. But rather than comparing percentages from prospective agents, you should ask about the total cost. This forces them to give you their estimate of what the house will sell for, and spell out the dollar value of the sale. You’ll get two key pieces of information here: what selling price do they think they can achieve, and how much you’ll actually get in the end. An agent with a higher percentage on a lower sales estimate could be quite a different number from a lower percentage on a higher estimate.
You’ll also need to know about their marketing plan. These aren’t standardised across agents, every agent has different tactics which can make a huge difference in the marketing budget (which you’ll need to pay regardless of whether you sell).
You will want to know all costs, and when they are due. Ask your prospective agent what’s upfront, what will you need to pay if the property doesn’t sell, will they negotiate, and how they justify their fees. A more expensive agent may have a much better sales and marketing strategy, database of buyers, and better track record of success, so may well be worth it.
- How should the property be sold?
Whilst auctions are popular, they might not always be the best way to get the best price, when market conditions in your local area are factored in. A good agent at the very least will justify why an auction is best, if not offer you an alternative type of campaign.
- What are their sales statistics?
If there’s one thing an agent tracks, it’s their results. If your agent has a good track record in your area, they will be only too happy to show you. Make sure you get recent data that accurately reflects market conditions.
- Can you provide references?
A good agent will also be happy to give you references of recent sales. An even better agent will offer up references without being asked. It will be worth calling them to hear first hand what their experience was. Ask them – what price were you expecting, and what did you get? Were you happy with their service? Which marketing tactics and sales strategies worked best?
- Is now the best time to sell?
There might have been some good media stories about why you should sell now, but if you hold off even a few weeks it might make all the difference. A good agent knows all the ups and downs of the local market, from how school holidays and weather conditions affect sales in your neighbourhood to when more properties are coming on or if Golden Week is coming up. Asking your agent for the optimum time could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Does the house need any changes?
You might be thinking of getting a landscaper, repainting or even staging the house, but your agent will be able to tell you just how necessary it is. You may well just need a quick tidy of the garden, rather than remodelling the bathroom, which makes the returns on the sale even better. Part of the appeal of some houses is that people can remodel themselves. Or, you may not want to hear it, but getting rid of 80% of your treasured items may make your house a lot more appealing!
Make sure your agent has a plan for getting your house to look its best, ideally a checklist to work through. This will make a world of difference with buyers.
- What’s the best marketing plan for my house?
Your agent will have the best handle on what tactics work best. Should you do an online campaign? Print only? Flyers? Do you need to translate your collateral into another language in your area? Your agent is an expert that also has a team of marketers behind them to run the best campaign. However, part of the agent’s pitch is their marketing plan. Is one agent going to do more for you than another?
The answers to your questions shouldn’t be cookie cutter, either. Your agent should know the buyer demographic in your area. For example, if it is popular with downsizers, print may be the way to go rather than an online campaign.
- Will they do private inspections?
Some buyers are super interested, but can’t make an inspection. Many agents will only meet the bare minimum of inspection times. Find an agent who is willing to go the extra mile and make sure no opportunities are missed.
- How long will it take to sell my house?
This question can be revealing. See whether you get ‘it’s hard to tell,’ or if the agent is able to provide you with recent examples of homes in your area. It’s better to have realistic expectations, which also means an agent promising you ‘two weeks, for sure!’ might be full of hot air.