1. How many years have you been involved in real estate and what agencies have you worked for?
Ideally you want a career real estate agent that has been in the industry for at least 2 or 3 years. The real estate industry has a lot of turnover as people test drive the career with the false impression that it’s easy. Nothing could be further from the truth and thats why you need to identify those that have been in the industry for a long time as longevity is one of the best indicators of success.
2. Is your agency a member of their state’s Real Estate Industry body.
Here in QLD you want to make sure that anybody you deal with is a member of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland – the REIQ. The real estate industry bodies provide a tribunal and complaints system to deal with problems between a buyer or seller and the agent. If the problem is bad enough they can be struck off the membership. Clearly it is not always the case but you should assume for you own protection any agency that does not belong to their industry body as though they could have been struck off. Would you use a lawyer who was not a member of the Law Society or an Accountant or Financial Planner who was not member of their industry body.
3. Is real estate your full-time career or a part-time career?
You only want a professional and full-time real estate agent to sell your home. You cant sell real estate part time. If a buyer wants to inspect a house they dont want to be told you only work a couple of days per week. You shouldn’t hire a real estate agent that only spends a few hours a week on the job.
4. What makes you a better choice for me than your competition?
How can anybody who cannot concisely explain the benefits of using their agency sell the benefits of your home? Use this question to discover just how competitive they are and how well they have researched the market and their competition, especially in your area. Their answers can also reveal their level of experience and understanding of the agency they work in.
5. What awards have you or your agency won?
Generally you can ignore any awards they have received in their own office. Too many agencies share the awards around so everybody has a few to boast about. If they are a member of a major real estate group ideally you want to be looking for state based success or even national awards. Even better are awards from the Real Estate Institutes as they cover all real estate agencies whether from a franchise, marketing groups or independents.
6. What is the size of your sales team? Would I be working only with you or would I be also working with other members of your team? Who are the other members of your team? Who is responsible for what?
A team is a group of salespeople that service the same customers. Because every salesperson in the office can be dealing with different buyers you want to make sure that every salesperson in the office can introduce your property. You dont want to find yourself restricted to just a fraction of the buyers that agency comes in contact with.
You are looking for solid a team of successful salespeople. You don’t really want a team thats too big as when they have a core of one or two successful salespeople your potential buyers are being diluted to far with less successful salespeople.
Find out how their team works. Make sure you feel comfortable with the way their team operates and how they will service you. Also make sure that you have a list of teammates and their duties and contact information.
7. How accessible are you? Will I be given your mobile phone, direct phone on your desk and any other phone number where you can easily be reached? How often will you contact me and how?
The biggest criticism about real estate agents is communication. Everybody has heard of horror stories of sellers that have been promised the world and once they sign the selling authority they never hear from the agents again. Thankfully that sort of relationship is pretty rare but there is still night and day between the leading agents and the average agent.
Make sure your agent knows you demand a high level of communication and that you want as many contact numbers as possible. Ideally you want to receive written feedback on every buyer inspection providing full details on the inspection that has taken place along with a weekly report that summarises the inspections throughout the week. Ask to see a copy of that feedback.
Teasdale has its own seller feedback software which is now used by agents right around Australia.
8. Where is your agency located? how many properties do you have on display in your window? and how many carparks are available for prospective buyers?
Ideally you should visit the agency of any real estate agent you short list. When you walk into an office it is often quite easy to see the professionalism or lack thereof that is on display. Quite often when you are tossing up between two agencies just walking up to their window display or into their reception area will identify the real professional amongst them.
9. How will you determine the appropriate sales price for my home?
Usually this is done by comparing sales activity of similar houses. The big debate is how your house compares to other houses that have sold. They may be able to offer ideas to improve your house and make it sell for more. If done correctly, all of the agents you interview should price your home pretty close. If an agent prices your house significantly higher or lower than the other agents’ prices, find out why they priced it that way.
Remember, if it’s too good to be true then it usually is. Some agents promise to list your house at a high price knowing that once you’ve signed the agreement, they can make you lower it to a reasonable amount later on. There are called inflatable agents for obvious reasons. That wastes time and the longer your house sits on the market, the less money you’ll sell it for. Theoretically this should not be a problem you’ll run into because these agents usually don’t sell that many houses.
10. How are you going to advertise my home? How often will you hold open houses? How will you promote it?
Make sure they don’t just list it in on the internet and erect a sign in your front yard. They may advertise in newspapers, magazines and other publications. Also find out how they will feature your home on the Internet. Open houses are also a way to promote your house, but their effectiveness is up for debate. Ask your agent about their views on open houses.