13 'Unlucky' Questions A Home Seller Needs To Ask A Real Estate Agency Before They List

Tuesday 06 Aug 2019

Home seller questions need to be asked to determine which real estate agent is best for you when selling your home.

You can get lucky and stumble upon your ideal real estate agent. It could be perfect timing. You're ready to go to the market; they're available to help you.

However, it's not as simple as that in finding your ideal agent. It's more complicated than "we just aligned - it was in the stars" type of approach.

A real estate agent must live up to your expectations of what you need. And to discover that, you're going to have to ask some questions.

Some questions will be light and airy while others will need a firm approach. Using real estate lingo, you'll need to qualify your real estate agent. See if they tick the boxes before you hand over your prized asset, your home.

Here's 13 'a baker’s dozen' light and hard-hitting questions you must ask before you sign their exclusive listing form.

1. How do buyers hear about you?

You might have walked past their agency and walked in. That still occurs but is less likely these days. Does the agency market in the local area? Are they part of a Network (First National has around 400 offices Australia wide) or are they an independent office? What about social media? How big is their following?

2. Ask the agency what type of seller are they looking for?

Some agencies will only take on exclusive listings. Will your agency accept an open listing? Will the seller be required to invest marketing money into a campaign? If so, how much?

3. What makes the agency attractive?

If an agency markets themselves as a low-price commission company, be cautious! Two big brands over the past decade have collapsed around the 'low fee' model. Lower fees charged means lower payments to sales agents. Lower paid sales agents tend to be lower skilled, something a seller never wants.

4. What other team members will help sell our home?

Small agencies tend to struggle with this question. At First National Paradise Point not only will you get the dedicated sales person but a team of administrators who will work on your paperwork ensuring it's 100% correct, a marketing assistant that may include telemarketers, the agency owner, a finance broker to assist buyers with getting their mortgage and a swag of external partners.

5. What marketing ideas and resources has the agency tried in the past with great results?

Most agencies can offer marketing campaigns with the local newspapers and online real estate portals like REA or Domain but only a hand full have an effective database of buyers. Bonus question: Dive deeper with "how engaged is your database?" and follow up with "how often do you email your list and what with?" An agency should at the very least email a newsletter once a month if they are wanting to truly service the readers on that list. But if the agency replies "we send all our listings regularly" you should here an alarm bell! Readers don't buy property every week or month. Top engaging real estate agencies know how to deliver value that keeps the reader coming back each week wanting more. Sales lists create dead email lists!

6. Tell me about a problem seller and how did you fix the issue

It's not a perfect world. Problems arise. What you are looking for here is how the conflict was managed. Who got involved? What was the outcome? Has the seller ever done business with you again?

7. Why are you looking to take us on?

Find out how busy the agency and sales person are. How much stock does the business normally carry and what's their current level? As a seller you need to go with agencies that regularly turnover their stock and replenish it with fresh listings. Fresh listings, well priced and well marketed bring in fresh buyers. On the other hand you don't want an agency or sales person with too many listings. That either means that can't sell their stock in a reasonable amount of time or they won't be able to dedicate enough time to marketing your home. That's a lose:lose situation.

8. Get the agency to tell you about their strengths and weaknesses

All businesses will tell you they are #1, part of Australia's largest network, they have fantastic staff but you'll need to dive deeper and reply with "why" to their answers.

9. Ask who their competition is within the area

Get a feel of who else is in the market. Ask how they perform against the agency business and if better, why? As a seller you should also visit REA and check what properties are on the market in the area you are selling. If the market is saturated perhaps you could hold off for a little while.

10. How much money will you have to spend with this agency?

Marketing is important - it's impossible to sell a secret. What will you need to contribute? How much is the agency tipping in to the marketing budget? (It's worth noting that an agent only gets paid if and when the property sells. Essentially, they work for free until the property settles. Would you teach a classroom of kids for 30 or 60 days without your weekly wage?)

11. How will the agency meet your priorities?

Let's say you've got to move interstate to take up a new job. The house needs to be sold quickly without giving it away.

How can the agency best serve you to achieve the maximum price in the shortest possible time period?

12. How long does it take for our listing to go live to the market?

You need to know a timeline of events around the selling of your home. When will it be listed on the real estate portals? When will professional photography be completed? Who pays for that? When will the signboard be erected and who pays for that? If newspaper advertising is part of the marketing campaign, when will the first ad appear? What budget do you recommend? Where will the ads appear?

13. Does the agent live locally?

Maybe not as important as it was pre-internet days but it might be the tipping point in listing with that agent. Agents can become experts in an area by studying the market, but the best agents live in the area. Richard and Ashley Waldron, Directors of First National Paradise Point, both live in the area. Local living agents feel the market. They are known in the area not only as real estate agents. Their kids go to school on the area, their wives are part of the community, they are active in charities and on first name terms with the local green grocer, barista and pharmacist. There's an extra sense of trust by dealing with a local agent.

Conclusion

When marketing your home you need to appoint the best agent.

That agent is the one that meets your needs best.

They know the market, ideally live locally, understand marketing and above all understand your needs in achieving the best price.

They understand that not one approach fits all but they are flexible to work in achieving your goals in the shortest possible time without sacrificing price.

And there's only one way to determine all of this - by asking questions. Start with these and add more as you go.