Make sure your house is in the right hands. Mary Holm highlights 9 helpful tips for choosing the right real estate agent
1. Before you even talk to agents, pay for a professional valuation of your property. That gives you power when negotiating with agents or buyers if they’re talking too low a price. It also signals when an agent may be suggesting too high a price when they first meet you.
2. Ask your friends and neighbours for recommendations.
3. Ask prospective agents for written info on recent houses they have sold, including their price expectations and what they sold the properties for.
4. Get details on how they plan to market your property and how much that will cost. Apparently most house buyers these days first spot a property online, so make sure the online marketing is done well.
5. Check the public register on the Real Estate Authority website to make sure the agent is licensed. The register will also tell you if there is any disciplinary history over the past three years for that agent.
6. Usually, agents’ contracts are for 60 or 90 days. Go for 60 or perhaps less. If the property hasn’t sold at the end of the contract period, you might want to try a different agent. Take note, though, of a warning from Consumer NZ. Some contracts say you have to pay the first agent if a buyer who saw the property while that agent was listing it comes back and makes an offer via a second agent. You could find yourself paying commissions to both. Don’t sign any contract that requires you to pay a commission once the contract has expired.
7. While agents are supposed to be getting you the best price, they have a big incentive to sell fast and move on to the next property, especially under the usual commission structure. Don’t be pressured to accept a low offer, especially early on.
8. You can renegotiate the agent’s commission at any time. Let’s say a buyer’s final offer is less than you are willing to take. Ask the agent if they will reduce their commission, so you end up with a bit more. They might agree, just to get the sale.
9. Just remember: you don’t have to use an agent to sell your home. It’s getting easier, with the internet, to get the word out about your wonderful property, and you can find online support for selling on your own, often called ‘selling privately’. Start with the Citizens Advice Bureau website, which lists pros and cons of private sales.
These tips are extracted from: Rich Enough? A laid-back guide for every Kiwi By Mary Holm. Published by HarperCollins.
Words by: Mary Holm, Personal finance journalist. Photography by: Bauersyndication.com.au