When it comes time to sell, we all want to get the best possible price for our property. For many sellers, it can be a daunting process, even if you’ve done it before
It’s common practice for people who are looking to sell a property to ask what the costs are to sell their home. In fact, it’s often the first question they ask a real estate agent. Likewise, asking “what’s my house worth” is usually right at the top of the list. Both are fair questions, but if you want to become a more savvy seller, they’re not ones you should be asking.
If you are thinking of selling your property, it’s important to look for a real estate agent who demonstrates two critical skills: the ability to market your home through all the possible channels available to capture every known buyer, both passive and active, and the ability to negotiate and add value to the transaction.
It’s important to understand that real estate agents are not property valuers. Hiring an agent because they have an opinion on the value of your property that is higher than others is risky business. Never confuse professional desperation (someone who is trying to buy your listing) with professional enthusiasm! A robust and thorough appraisal is required to create a realistic picture of what your property could sell for.
An appraisal should reflect current market conditions and be supported by information on comparable sales, but markets move faster than people and data on settled sales can be over three months old. So, a better version of the question “what is my property worth” is “what comparable sales have there been within the last month”. You should also ask what the “on the market” numbers were compared to the “final selling prices” of those comparable sales, as these can be dramatically different. Professionals will know the difference.
Of course, the fees for selling your home are an important consideration but beware of agents offering deals or inducements. Instead, look for an agent who has a reputation for being a strong negotiator. You want someone who will get you the best price for your property, not someone who charges the lowest fee, and, ironically, could end up being the most expensive because they achieved a lower price.
So, when you ask, “what are the costs to sell my home”, a better question to ask is “what is your company’s policy on conjunctions with other agencies?” You want to know the agent is truly working in your best interests. Some leading agents will refuse to do workins with other agency’s buyers, but the more buyers or bidders, the more your agent can leverage your final selling price. You want an agent that is truly client focused, not agency focused.
Another question to ask an agent is when he or she last did a trade. A trade is a house swap where a buyer offers a trade of, for example, a house plus cash to purchase another more expensive home. You are looking for an agent who has the skill set to create a deal, when an easy one is not there. You are looking for a savvy negotiator and if you are considering going to auction, do your research on the auctioneer as well.
Remember, the agent’s job is to create a market for your property. The active buyers will find your property on the market if your agent is doing a good job. Regardless of how unique you think it is, your property is competing for the attention of buyers and you need to out-market your competition to capture that attention.
Don’t be enticed by agencies that offer to pay for advertising your property. This will only encourage them to cut corners to get their marketing dollars back instead of doing what it takes to attract the top of the market.
Finally, ask questions around buyer profiling, click through rates and social media campaigns the agent has run. Surprisingly, while we live in a digital age there are some agents that are still stuck in the print landscape. If your agent isn’t digitally savvy, you’ll be missing out on this vital channel to market.
In short, hire on competency - an excellent negotiator, a skilled marketer, someone who has your best interests at heart. Ask better questions and you’ll never look back on your decision to sell and think, could I have done better?
This article is featured in Harcourts Property Focus, Issue 2 2021.