Chapter 3: The Role of A Selling Real Estate Agent
IT COULD be said, in a nutshell, that the role of a selling agent
is to list, negotiate and sell properties. However, selling real
estate is a people business and, though the role may seem
simple, every selling agent requires a host of skills and
experience to deliver outstanding results.
Everyone selling their property tells me they want similar
things from their real estate agent.
Sellers want an agent who:
- Delivers results – You want an agent who gets you the best sale price possible.
- Is low stress – You want an agent who provides a smooth and predictable sales process, with no surprises.
- Is reliable – You want an agent who does what they say they’ll do.
- Is relatable – You want an agent who communicates with you.
- Is authentic – You want an agent who is genuine and trustworthy.
Most importantly, you want an agent who does what he or she says she will do.
The process the agent needs to follow
Every agent needs to complete a set process to ensure a complete and successful sales transaction. To help put this in perspective, I present here an overview of a typical property
sales process with the focus on the selling agent’s role. It’s a three-step process:
• Let go
Let’s look at each step in turn.
Step 1: Prepare
Meeting the agent:
First up, the real estate agent meets with you, the owner, to inspect the property and discuss the sales strategy. This will take in suggestions for the presentation of the property, the sales process, the price range and promotional marketing and advertising elements. There will also be discussion of the sales process for similar properties that sold above market.
If you decide to appoint this agent as your selling agent, then you will sign an exclusive sales agreement and arrange payment for any vendor-paid marketing (more about this later
in the book). So you’re on the books! All your data is entered in office systems and compliance folders are created. Welcome aboard.
Let your solicitor know:
Next you have to advise your chosen legal representative that you’re selling your property and pass
on the requirements for a contract of sale and a local council compliance certificate. You will also agree on the inclusions and exclusions for the property. For example, you’re leaving the
shelving but taking the curtains (you know the sort of thing). It’s best to have it all in writing so there are no arguments later.
Presentation and fix-ups:
A good agent will ask you if you have any budget for property presentation and maintenance.
They may advise that spending a small amount in some areas will mean a far better sale price. They have experience in these matters and are also familiar with other properties competing with yours on the market, so you’d do well to listen to this advice. If you agree to go along this path, then they will book a pre-sales specialist consultant who will provide a report so that you can decide whether to bring in trusted tradespeople and/or stylists.
The agent can also book a vendor-paid building and pest inspection or strata report to provide both the seller and the buyer with up-to-date information. This is optional, the purchasers may commission their own building and pest inspections anyway.
Booking an auctioneer:
If there is to be an auction, the salesagent will book and secure the auctioneer’s services in advance
at this early stage too.
How everything works:
You will need to give the sales agent clear instructions on the security system at the property (if
there is one) and an idea of how the appliances work (so that they can explain this to any potential purchaser who asks). Then for access to the property they will need remotes for gates
and garages, a copy of the keys and instructions warning about pets on the property that they shouldn’t let escape, and a heads up if there is a nosy neighbour to avoid.
Photos and plans:
So much of a buyer’s research is done online now, before they even inspect a property, that it is vital that you have great photos. Your agent will book a visual marketing team to come and take professional photography. A lot of buyers also like to see a drawing of a floor plan that gives
dimensions if possible. Then although they say a picture paints a thousand words, you still need to add words which is where the copywriting for the advertising comes in.
If you’re buying to let: If you are buying the property with the intention of renting it out, then the sales agent will arrange for the leasing manager (usually from their office) to provide a written rental estimate. You would probably also substantiate this with a second quote from an independent property manager.
We look at this is more detail later in the book but suffice to say that at this stage in the process you will sign off and approve final marketing materials and local government compliance documents and checklists. The agent will have created a property booklet and specifications documents for buyers which you also need to approve. Most importantly, you will receive the full contract of sale prior to commencing marketing.
Before your property is listed for sale online, many agents will preview your home to hot buyers.
They will call potential buyers on the phone, email alerts and advise other sales agents, and buyer’s agents. They will also talk to the media to try to get some editorial about your property
in the paper.
Your property will then be launched online and further email alerts will be sent to registered buyers. The signboard will be installed at the property for sale too. A letterbox
drop will be arranged to homes in the area with invitations to the open homes. Invitations will also be dropped in the neighbours’ mail boxes. A good agent may invite VIP buyers to an exclusive open for inspection before the general public is permitted to view.
Step 2: Show
Open for inspections: This is the first part of stage two – the ‘showing’ part of the process. Your home will be open for inspection on a number of dates (weekend and mid-week). This schedule will be set so that you can prepare to have the house in tip top condition. At each open home, your agent will record the names and numbers of those who visit. The first open day will be on a Saturday.
Follow up: After the first open for inspection is when you will see an agent at work. You will really get to know how hard they are working to elicit buyer interest. The details of anyone attending the open home will be entered into the buyers database and a text will be sent to thank potential buyers for attending. The agent will also respond to buyer phone and online enquiries. Good agents will make daily call-backs to buyers to find out how strong their interest is. They will respond to buyer enquiries immediately, arrange second inspections, email requested contracts and provide inspection feedback reports to the owners. A record should be kept of telephone calls and enquiry responses and momentum will build from the initial interest. Buyers who have rejected or missed out on similar past properties will also be contacted. A further mail-box drop may be arranged.
Mid-week opens: Next the agent will organise the first midweek open for inspection. Good agents will call buyers to establish interest and text buyers to let them know about the next open home. Your agent will also be comparing the most recent property sales and prices of competing homes on the market, ready for negotiations to start.
Offers start coming in: Your agent will handle all negotiations with interested buyers and provide written and verbal feedback to the owners. He or she will usually meet with the owners to discuss any offers and their price position and competition from new listings. A good agent will continue to
hold open homes and conduct private and second inspections even if offers are starting to come in. They will field online enquiries, handle price adjustment and measure marketing responses to ensure buyer inspections continue. Early offers from buyers will start to establish a base price and negotiations with qualified buyers will further discover their price points.
Serious offers: When written offers come in, your agent will present them to you with a strategy for your consideration, in relation to the competition and buyer feedback to date. Your agent will negotiate with buyers to extract the highest price, required settlement terms, amount of deposit, any special conditions and the date for exchange.
Selling at auction: The auction process is quite different, with hopefully the price being agreed during the auction and the property sold immediately as a result, under the hammer, unconditionally, with deposit paid that day. If the property is not sold at auction, the agent will continue negotiations with buyers, and if agreement is reached, they issue a sales advice document to both legal representatives with terms of offer and acceptance in order to move forward to exchange. Many agents will try to sell the property prior to auction, to avoid the vendors going through the stress and expense of the auction process.
Negotiating contracts: The legal representatives may negotiate contract changes which may require inspections and could take one or several days to complete. (This is not the case with a sale
at auction which is unconditional.) If it is a private sale, the buyer may request their own pest and building report, strata report, property survey, building approvals, certificate of occupation, council inspection or other documents. The buyer’s bank will require a full valuation, involving a site inspection; they may request two valuations on different days. There may be a price adjustment depending on the results of the building and pest reports; that’s why it’s good to know in advance what may be found.
Step 3: Let go
Contracts are exchanged: Once final agreement on price and terms is agreed, both sides’ legal representatives sign and exchange contracts, including agreement on all special clauses
and conditions. Once all the details of the sale have been testimonial and give a settlement gift to the seller to celebrate the conclusion of a satisfying real estate sales experience.
As you can see, there are many steps to the selling process and variables which require your agent to be extremely capable in a broad range of skills. They have to be experienced and talented to achieve a great sales result. With the right agent, you too can enjoy a satisfying real estate sales experience.