What is the key to success in the current real estate market? From my 20-year perspective in the industry, it has to be choosing the right agent. In today’s market it’s more important than ever to find an agent that’s capable of maximising your sale price with a minimum of fuss.

I suppose that most people, when assessing an agent on first impression, consider us all alike. However, like any other industry, the quality of service varies greatly.

In fact, there are five simple ways to assess your potential real estate agent. The questions below provide a handy guide to assessing a professional’s business model, track record and sales approach.

  1. How many properties does the agent currently represent?

There’s an assumption that the agent responsible for the most properties is the best agent in the market, which is not necessarily the case. The nature of the current real estate market requires that agents invest greater time and effort to achieve individual property sales. As a result, an agent representing a large amount of properties at once won’t have the time to give your property the attention it deserves. It’s also worth considering why an agent is responsible for so many unsold properties at one time.

  1. What is the agent’s auction success rate?

It is a fact of the industry that some agents have a poor auction success rate. This is usually attributed to a lack of experience and understanding of the auction process, which can lead to unrealistic expectations of your property’s current market value. This situation often contributes to the perception that auctions aren’t effective – yet if the statistics produced by these inexperienced agents were removed from industry-wide sales analysis, the auction success rate would be clearer.

  1. What is the agent’s list-to-sell ratio?

An agent can list 300 homes in one year, but if they sell only 20 their success ratio is dismal. A high list-to-sell ratio is a key indicator of an agent with a solid business model and market understanding. Don’t be afraid to ask a prospective agent what their ratio is. Many within the industry consider this aspect of their business a closely guarded secret, however you’ll find that an agent with a high ratio won’t be shy about sharing it with you. It’s a great benchmark of their ability to sell your home and an illustration of how they fare against their competitors.

  1. How long does the sales process take?

Days on market is one of the most important criteria you should consider when choosing an agent.  It reflects their ability to understand market trends, provide factual feedback and determine accurate sales points related to the value of your home. The length of the sales process also highlights an agent’s ability to choose the marketing strategy and sales method that suit your property – a tailored approach is crucial. Obviously, a professional agent will also be more than capable of accurately assessing potential buyers and keeping the sales process on track with clear milestones.

  1. How does the agent conduct valuations and charge commissions?

If you choose an agent based purely on their high valuation of your property or their low commission rate, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Some agents will propose an unrealistic sales price for your property in an effort to secure you as a client – but are they being realistic? While sales commissions are negotiable, real estate is very much an industry in which you get what you pay for. If an agent is willing to reduce their commission easily, it’s important to ask yourself what other aspects of the sale they will capitulate on. Is this an indication of the negotiation skills they’ll employ to sell your home?

So if you’re considering selling your home, take some time to assess a number of potential agents. In addition to representing you in the marketplace, they’ll be responsible for conducting each of the crucial stages of the sale. It could be the most important decision you make in the entire process.

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