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Five questions to ask your real estate agent

By Luke O'Kelly

If you’re choosing a real estate agent for your the sale of your home, there are certain things you need to know. Most homeowners don’t sell their house very often, so it can be easy to become “out of touch” with the real estate industry. If you’re fresh to the market and feeling bewildered, here are some things to ask your estate agent.

1. TRACK RECORD
It’s an assumption we make on many things in day-to-day life: Past performance is the best predictor of future behaviour. We believe this of our employees, spouses, family members and even corporate brands. The same applies to agents. Someone who has been in the industry for ten years and only has a couple dozen sales is not nearly as active or successful as someone who has hundreds of campaigns under their belt.

2. FIND OUT ABOUT THEIR MARKET KNOWLEDGE
You’ll likely listen to multiple presentations before choosing a real estate agent, and if they’re all good – how will you know who to choose? Market knowledge can be a great indicator of how well prepared someone is to handle the sale of your home.

An understanding and awareness of houses for sale in your area can often make up for a lack of a track record. Every agent starts somewhere. If you’re talking to someone who has only been in the industry for a few months, their dedication to understanding and interpreting local sales stats and market conditions could be a good barometer of their overall skill.

Fortunately for new agents in the Ray White family, they have the backing of not only other agents in their local branch, but the entirety of Australasia’s largest real estate agency.

3. RECOMMENDATIONS
Think of this like a job interview – the agents you’re talking to certainly do! And as with any good job interview, there should be references on hand. Ask the agents you talk with to provide recent testimonials or letters from vendors that can attest to their performance.

According to recent research by CoreLogic RP Data, 68 per cent of people surveyed said they would recommend their real estate agent to family or friends. This could be a great place to start if your not confident in your ability to pick a good salesperson for the job.

4. ASK QUESTIONS THAT MATTER TO YOU
When you interview a few agents, they will generally come prepared with a presentation. This will cover a lot of information and should give you a pretty good idea of their personality, sales skills and background. However, if you have questions that concern you, don’t be afraid to bring them up.

For example, average time on market is not something often discussed at this stage – CoreLogic RP Data shows this only features in around 28 per cent of presentations. But if you need to sell within a certain timeframe, this could be really important to you, so make sure to ask! This could particularly be the case if you’ve been looking at homes for sale and need to make a move on a new opportunity.

5. WHAT MARKETING SHOULD YOU UNDERTAKE?
Some agents will choose to discuss marketing tactics and costs at the outset. It may seem uncomfortable to talk about dollar figures so early on in the relationship, but it’s important.

Understanding this will not only give you an idea of their marketing savvy, but it will also prepare you for the practical implications of running a campaign to sell your real estate. This can include time set aside for photography, house dressing, and money for these as well as advertising costs.

At the end of the day, the real estate agent you choose will have a big effect on the sale of your property, so make sure you’re fully prepared. Take advice from family and friends if need be. If you’re still unsure, talk to your local Ray White principal – they’ll be able to tell you which of their agents specialise in your area and type of property, and could answer a lot of the questions you have.

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