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9 questions to ask prospective real estate agents

By Emma Smith

It’s no secret that finding the right real estate agent is crucial to securing a high sale price for your property. But knowing what to do isn’t the same as understanding how to do it. 

To choose the right agent, you’ll need to look much further than skin-deep online reviews.

Search for agents in your local area, put together a shortlist and then swing by a few of their open for inspections to see how they interact with buyers.

Observing how they handle face-to-face interactions should help you whittle down your shortlist to a handful of agents.

Once you’ve made it this far, arrange face-to-face interviews and ask them the following questions to determine whether they’re the right agent for you.

1. What experience do you have?

Experience is important in any industry, but in real estate, it’s essential.

The likelihood of an agent securing a high sale price for your property is largely dependent on their ability to build a rapport with potential buyers – and there’s nothing quite like learning on the job.

Which is why Georgi Bates, director of residential sales at Cunninghams Property Balgowlah, believes interrogating a prospective agent’s resume should be high up your list of priorities.

“Ask them how long they’ve been working in the industry, and whether they have a licence, as opposed to a real estate certificate that only took six weeks to get,” says Bates.

“It’s similar to the difference between having a university degree or just finishing school.”

2. Which local properties have you sold recently?

Asking this question will shine a light on the agent’s selling ability, while providing an opportunity to sound out their suggested listing price.

“It will give you confidence that the price they’re delivering to you is based on several factual results, and not just them winging it,” says Ashley Weston, principal and director of Ray White Frankston.

It’s also worth asking for the contact details of past vendors, so that you can fact-check the agent’s claims.

It’s important that you find an agent who has experience selling homes that are a similar style to yours. Picture:

3. How much do you know about the local area?

The importance of local knowledge cannot be overstated when it comes to selling real estate.

As soon as a buyer steps foot into your property during an open for inspection, they begin painting a mental picture of what their life would look like if they moved in – and it’s the job of your agent to fill in any gaps on the canvas.

The more your agent knows about the local area, the easier it will be for them to answer a potential buyer’s questions about the quickest morning commute, or where they could send their children to school.

“There could be a really good dance school nearby, for example. Things like that can really resonate with families,” says Bates.

A deep understanding of the local area should also be complemented by an understanding of local planning regulations, Bates adds.

“This will mean an agent can explain to buyers what renovations they can and can’t make – be it an extension on top of a three-bedroom house, or the addition of car parking space to a small semi.”

4. How active are you in the community?

Even in our digital age, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool that should never be overlooked.

“Knowing local cashiers and hairdressers is really important because they all talk about property,” says Bates.

“Ask your prospective agents how big their network is, because networks help each other out – they’re all connected.”

Ask your prospective agents to demonstrate their negotiation skills before signing on the dotted line. Picture: Getty

5. What do you know about the local competition?

Ask your potential agents whether they’ve recently visited many open homes in the local area.

Checking out the competition will enhance their understanding of which features and type of interiors are likely to strike a chord with buyers on the lookout for properties in the area.

6. Who do you think will be interested in my property?

This one’s simple: before you can reach an audience, you need to know who that audience is.

If your agent doesn’t know who the potential buyers for your property could be, then your marketing campaign has little chance of success.

7. How will you market and sell my property?

Closer to a full-length conversation than a single question, this line of inquiry goes straight to the heart of the matter.

You should discuss everything from which selling method your prospective agent recommends for your property, to how they plan to make its ‘wow features’ stand out.

Weston also suggests asking your prospective agent to showcase the buyers they are currently representing, and where they expect other buyers to come from, as knowing this “will help you develop a marketing plan that captures more of those specific buyers”.

“Also make sure to ask the agent to demonstrate how they’d handle the negotiation with the buyer, as that will give you some good insight into what’s probably the most important part of the selling process,” he says.

Bates shares a similar view, and also suggests asking the agent how many other listings they will simultaneously be managing, to ensure your property gets the attention it deserves.

“You should also ask who will manage your open for inspection,” Bates adds. “A lot of agents will put juniors at the open who aren’t able to answer questions or sound out the concerns of potential buyers.”

8. What are your fees?

While price shouldn’t be your main consideration when signing an agent, it’s important that both parties understand what’s expected from them before they sign any contracts.

This reduces the chance of disagreements down the track.

9. Why are you the best person for the job?

It may sound a little gimmicky, but asking this question will shine a light on what your agent believes to be the most important thing when it comes to selling property, and offer a glimpse into how they think on their feet.

If you’re struggling to pick between a few agents with comparable sales performance histories, then this might be just the ticket.

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