Choosing a real estate agent? Four questions to ask yourself.

Sep 4, 2017

Choosing the right real estate agent is one of the most important decisions to make when it comes to selling your property. Your agent will be in charge of your sale including negotiating settlement, legal terms, marketing and, of course, coordinating the auction. Here are four questions to ask yourself when choosing your agent.

  1. Are they qualified and accredited?

The first and most important step is to check whether the agent has proper qualifications and industry accreditation. The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) highlights how important this is given property is the single largest asset for many Australians.

“It’s important to deal with an agent you know you can trust. When choosing an agent, remember to check whether they are a member of the respective Real Estate Institute in your state or territory,” the REIA says.

“REI members have a commitment to service and professional standards, and are bound by strict codes of conduct. In addition, REI members have access to a wide range of professional development opportunities enabling them to enhance their skills and offer quality customer service.”

  1. Are they switched on communicators?

In addition to proper credentials, a good real estate agent should be a solid communicator who constantly works to generate leads. They should be proactive when it comes to contacting potential buyers in order to achieve the best possible result.

A good way to check is to ask the agent to provide references from previous clients that testify to their professionalism and selling skills.

  1. Will they provide you with a quote to sell?

Another key factor, the REIA says, is for agents to be open and transparent about their sale commission.

“Every agent you approach should provide you with a quote to sell your home, setting out a predicted selling price and the agent’s fee,” the REIA advises.

“Remember to ask for exactly what the commission buys you – some agents will offer newspaper advertising alone, while others may organise open house inspection days and letterbox drops.”

Agents generally charge a commission of between 1.8 per cent and 3.5 per cent and so it can pay for vendors to shop around for the best deal in their locality. Getting clarity around commission also helps prevent the vendor from potentially being overcharged given agent fees can fluctuate.

  1. Do they offer the best agreement for your situation?

Striking the right type of agreement with the real estate agent, and agency, is important. Many sellers choose an exclusive agency agreement, which sees a vendor deal with just one real estate agent. Other options include a sole agency agreement, open agency agreement or auction agency agreement.

In any case, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission advises consumers to “read contracts and documents carefully before you sign”.

“Get legal advice if you are unsure about what the contract means. Ask for explanations to ensure you understand all costs and what they cover, any limitations, lease or settlement time frames and any cooling-off periods,” it says.