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Choosing an Agent
Make sure you know what to look for in an agent because they play a key role in getting you the right price for your home.

Your options

Once you've decided to sell, the next question is who will you get to sell your property?

You may have thought about selling your property privately but most people choose to sell via a real estate agent. Like professionals in any field, they are not all the same so you need to find the one that will get you the best result.

Find an agent who knows the housing market in your area. Drive around the suburb and make a note of the agents whose boards you see. Then have a look at their other activities, look at their website, ads placed in local papers, letterbox fliers and so on.

This is a results driven exercise so look in the local newspapers for successful sales and high prices. See if they are getting good clearance rates. Then it's worth asking people you know in the area that have sold recently about their experience.

Choosing an Agent








When you've drawn up a short list of candidates, call them and tell them what you intend and arrange for an interview. Ask them to come to you at your home. Even at this first meeting they should be able to provide information on how they plan to manage the sale process. This includes:

  • Advice on how much you can expect to sell your property for;
  • The best method of selling (auction or private treaty);
  • The best way of advertising your property;
  • How to prepare your home before showing it to potential buyers; and
  • How they will negotiate the selling price between you and potential buyers.

Get them to tell you how they will communicate with you throughout the entire process. Also check that they are a member of the Real Estate Institute in your State or Territory. REI members have a commitment to service and professional standards and are bound by strict codes of conduct.

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Buying the listing

The biggest trap people fall into is choosing the agent who gives them the highest expected selling price. Don't be taken in. Agents know what sellers like to hear and some play up to that, but don't let that be the sole basis of your choice. In fact, knowingly overstating the property value to clients has been so widespread some States are now legislating against the practice.

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The fee

In return for their services, the agent will ask a fee for the time and costs involved in selling your property. Every agent you approach should provide you with a quote to sell your home, setting out a predicted selling price and their fee.

This fee is normally a proportion of the price that the property is sold for. In addition they will also charge you the marketing costs involved.  The marketing costs should be itemised so you know exactly what you are getting for your money.

You are within your rights to have some say over how the marketing budget will be spent, after all, it's your money.

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Agency options

Another decision you will have to make is the type of agreement you want with your agent. Generally, they can be:

Exclusive agency agreement - where you deal with only one real estate agent and they get their fee, irrespective of how the property is sold.

Sole agency agreement - which is the same as an exclusive agency agreement except that you may sell the property privately without paying the agent's fee.

Open agency agreement - where you engage a number of different real estate agents and only the agent who sells your property receives the commission.
Most agents don't like to work under this sort of agreement, and if they do they tend not to prioritise the sale.

Multiple listing agency agreement - where your personal agent works with a co-operative network of agents to sell your home.

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Always remember

While the real estate agent is working for you they should always have your best interests at heart. However, remember that they are also running a business and to do that they need to sell houses.

The problem with the fee structure being a percentage of the selling price is that there is little incentive for the agent to get you a higher price.  For example, if a house sells for $500,000 and the agent's commission is 2 per cent, they get a fee of $10,000. If the house sells for $550,000 their fee goes up to $11,000. So in the end you stand to gain a lot more from the higher price than the agent does.

In some cases agents will urge you to sell at the lower price just to make sure of their commission, rather than push for the higher price and risk losing the sale. And this is not necessarily in your best interest.

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