4. What makes a great real estate agent?
THE RIGHT real estate agent will bring an enormous amount of value to the sale transaction and will demonstrate skills and expertise that are important to you. As you’ve seen in the previous chapter, the sales process is quite involved and you could be working with this agent for many weeks, so it’s very important that you’re both on the same page. Remember, this is a business relationship, so you’re looking to work with a professional real estate agent, not looking to make a new friend.
If you are still considering working through the sales process yourself, then let me outline here some of the many advantages of working with a great agent:
- Peace of mind: It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you have someone managing the sale of your biggest asset who has vast experience in working through the process – something he or she does every day and which you will be handling probably for the first time or at least for the first time in a very long time.
- Money saved: Your agent is part of your profits, not costs, and will negotiate to put more money in your pocket than you could achieve yourself.
- Less stress: Selling your home is complex; if it were easy, everyone would do it themselves. Once you choose the right agent, you can relax and let them do their job for you.
Attributes of a great agent
Great agents come in all different shapes and sizes but some of the words that happy sellers have used to describe a great agent include:
- Active – Doesn’t wait, makes things happen
- Analytical – Knows what’s important to you and focuses on the details
- Approachable – Is easy for buyers to talk to
- Assertive – Takes control and commands respect
- Authentic – Is a problem-solver, not a messenger
- Businesslike – Operates in a calm and positive environment
- Communicative – Keeps you in the loop; owns the news and spreads it wisely
- Confident – Knows they are the right agent to sell for you
- Dedicated – Is prepared to work tirelessly to achieve a great result
- Determined – Is prepared to stay the distance, particularly when things get tough
- Direct – Has a clear vision, clear values and a plan to succeed
- Disciplined – Has a higher standard for themselves than anyone else does
- Driven –You need an agent who prides themselves in achieving the highest price
- Empathetic – Puts themselves in the buyer and the seller’s shoes
- Enthusiastic –They should display energy and be thrilled to sell your home and show it
- Focused – To deliver what you want at all times
- Generous – Is open and giving
- Honest – Tells you the truth, not what you want to hear
- Humorous – Makes it easy for sellers and buyers to work with them
- Knowledgeable – Helps you in ways you don’t even know
- Listener – To your wants and needs, and works with you to make that happen
- Logical – Is constant and consistent with the right intention
- Professional – Builds long-term relationships
- Respectful – Listens to you and anticipates your needs
- Responsive – Does today what others won’t
- There –Your agent needs to be available to attend your opens and negotiate
- Transparent – Walks you through the process, not the promise
- Trustworthy – Is part of your profit not your expenses.
Real estate agent speak
After talking to a few agents before you select a great agent to sell your property, you will begin to recognise that how an agent speaks is an indication of how good they are. The examples in the table below will show you what I mean.
Being a great agent is more than just taking names at the door. A truly great agent will conscientiously qualify all buyer leads and determine who is ready and willing to buy, moving them from offer to exchange in a short period of time in one seamless transaction.
Average Agent Great Agent
“It’s a tough market.” “Buyers are really difficult at the moment.”
“It’s hard to sell homes right now.” “The market is the market.”
“Buyers are very price sensitive.” “There are always people looking to buy and sell property.”
“Your home is overpriced.” “Buyers don’t see value at this price.”
“Let’s hope things improve.” “Let’s make things happen.”
“The campaign is going OK.” “We need to make some positive changes now.”
“We don’t have any buyers.” “We need to tell more people.”
“It’s an OK offer; you should take it.” “Let’s generate some competition so they are in
fear of missing out.”
Above all, a great agent will give
you peace of mind.
What are you looking for?
Before you do anything else, you need to make a list of what you are looking for in a real estate agent. Just as every home and every seller is different, all agents are different, and you need to decide what attributes are most important to you.
Once you know, in order of importance, what you are looking for, the right agent will be an easy choice for you. Here are some general criteria to consider:
Credentials and qualifications
It’s not hard to become a real estate agent, so choose an agent who can demonstrate they have completed more than the basic requirements and have special certifications that show they are
better than your average agent through their determination to stand out from the crowd.
It pays to find an agent who has sold many homes like yours before. You probably don’t want someone new to the industry learning the ropes on your house. An experienced agent will know how to interpret your needs and provide a sales strategy that suits your particular situation. This is not a one-size-fits all business so you need an agent who is the right fit for you.
Choose an agent who looks, sounds and feels right. Go with your gut instincts here. If you feel uncomfortable with an agent making potentially false claims or talking too much about themselves, then chances are your potential buyers will feel uncomfortable with the agent as well. Choose an agent who builds rapport with you so that you like and trust them, otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for an unpleasant experience. Your agent’s professionalism and commitment will
make all the difference to the smoothness of the sale and will have an impact on the final sale price.
Attention to detail
There is no room for mistakes in a real estate transaction so a great agent must pay great attention to detail, as well as having checklists, processes and detailed forms that help them stay on track. If their attention to detail is poor in their communication with you, why would it be any better with a buyer? Ask questions now, before you find out the hard way.
Choose an agent who will back themselves to do the best job possible for you. They should be confident but not cocky. All great agents have a measure of ego, but it’s how they carry this off that’s key. The agent must trust in their ability to deliver what they say they will. Their personality, responsiveness and professional background will impact your sale price, so an agent who offers to sell your home for the lowest commission is unlikely to be the agent who will provide the best service or result. After all, if they don’t believe in themselves and charge accordingly, how will they negotiate with buyers to get you every last dollar?
A great agent will be flexible and human and understand when things change during a campaign and be able to reschedule his time around you. A great agent understands selling property is a people business and works accordingly. Real estate is never a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday occupation.
Seriously, if you make an appointment for 10am and they are late, don’t waste any more time with that agent.
Local area knowledge
A great agent will be well-connected to your community and will know about more than just recent sales (we touched on this earlier in chapter 2). They will have a good understanding of local politics, public transport, schools, parks, crime statistics and where to get the best coffee.
Buyers relate better to agents who love what they do and love the homes they are selling. If the agent isn’t enthusiastic at the very start, they never will be.
Establish how you wish your agent to communicate with you. Do you prefer telephone calls, texts, emails, Skype or personal meetings? Do you want to hear from your agent daily, every second day, weekly or just after a scheduled event? Chances are you are not your agent’s only client; they are likely selling one or ten other homes at the same time. They also have a family and need time off too, so immediate response 24/7 is not an option, but you should both agree on a communication plan that works for you.
Many real estate agents sponsor local area sports teams and while they do this to get their brand name displayed on shirts and banners many of these smaller clubs could not exist without the agents’ support. Some agents have individual sponsorship activities, such as supporting the homeless through the Backpack bed campaign (www.swags.org.au), for example, which is a great way for an agent to give something back to the wider community. A community-minded agent could be a better choice than an agent who spends money on personal promotion buying billboards and bus shelters.
The agent you bought from
Depending how long you have been in your home you may not even remember the name of the agent you bought your home from. Some agents make it their business to stay in touch with past clients while others don’t even try. If you had a good experience with the agent you purchased your home through and they have been in touch from time to time, without stalking you, they should be the first name on your short list. They sold the home to you originally and should know it better than anyone else.
Choosing an agent who is referred by a trusted source, based on the outstanding job they have already done, is a strong place to start. We all prefer to deal with people who come recommended, but you still need to trust your gut instincts. If you don’t trust the real estate agent referred to you, then don’t hire that agent. If they ‘feel’ right then move forward with them. Selling your home is a journey you will be on together, so you need to be able to trust that the information being provided to you by your agent is true and in your best interests.
Creating your agent short-list
Choosing the right real estate agent to sell for you is not as straightforward as you may have first thought. Most sellers will interview three agents, depending on the area they live in and their past experiences. But how do you choose those three agents to short-list? Here are a few suggestions:
- Attend open homes: Go to a few open homes in your area, particularly to those for properties like yours, and meet the agents selling those homes. Agents have the opportunity to impress or disappoint you. How they deal with you as a buyer is likely to be the way they will deal with your own buyers, so you can rule them in or out on their behaviour and attitude.
- For Sale signboards: When you see a home with a For Sale signboard, knock on the door and ask the owner about their agent. Ask whether they are doing a great job and how, and who else they considered as their agent and why. Do they think they have made the right decision? Why?
- Make an enquiry: Call an agent about a property they have for sale and see how they handle the call. Can you reach them quickly? Do they call you back? Are they helpful? Do they provide useful information that impresses you? Would you be comfortable buying from them and would you hire them to sell your home?
- Word of mouth/past experience: Personal referral and past experience with an agent is still the number one method through which a home seller connects with an agent. Ask friends, family, neighbours and colleagues about their experiences with local agents. Ask them what they liked about the agent, whether they achieved the price they said they would and what they could have done to make the experience better. By the time you have done your homework it will be obvious to you which three agents you will want to interview.
This is an excerpt from the book Sold Above Market by Geoff Grist available online at Amazon, Booktopia and all good book stores.