The key criteria that I consider when interviewing sales agents

The key criteria that I consider when interviewing sales agents

Today’s Melbourne real estate market is tough for vendors. Who you choose to list your property is critically important.

When selecting a selling agent, recognise that this is one of the most important financial kdecisions you’ll make. You’re probably selling your biggest asset – is he/she treating it with the seriousness it deserves?

I’m forever blown away by how casual some selling agents can be when pitching for a multi-million dollar sale. When I consider a $40k+ account, I do my bloody homework! Too often, I interview agents who think they can bullshit me…

My permitted property is worth mid-to-high $2ms. I know it is because I study the market, I know the comparable sales, and I take these things very seriously. After trading a few emails with an agent who had sold a similar property to mine in the recent past, I decided to meet with him in his office. Surely, he’d have analysed recent sales and consulted his colleague who I specifically mentioned.

After a bit of small talk at the beginning of our meeting, he asked me what I wanted to talk about?! Wow, not a good start. I launched into a series of questions:

  • Which specific properties had his team sold in the last 12 months that are comparable to mine?
  • Is he in contact with suitable buyers? Who exactly?
  • How does my property compare to this one that sold at $2m? This one at $1.8m?
  • What can he and his team bring to the table that another agency can’t?
  • Tell me how we should market this property? Auction, Sale by Set Date, Private, Off-market?
  • Where does he see value? How will he maximise the perceived worth when dealing with buyers?
  • What statistical information does he have that explains the current market to me and to buyers?
  • Who does he think will end up buying this property (age, gender, life stage, ethnicity, profession)?
  • How will he leverage his office network, and what does that mean for his commission?

A deer in bloody head lights. I couldn’t be more disappointed, and when he told me he didn’t appreciate the way I was speaking to him, I told him I didn’t appreciate my time being wasted. The guy didn’t even shake my hand when I got up to leave.

This is example is far from typical, but it does illustrate the degree of preparation you should rightly expect when calling in an agent to appraise your home. Sales volumes are down ~20% year-on-year, and good agents are hungrier than ever.

Gone are the days when you should simply list your property with the agent who you like the most, the one who remembers your dog’s name, or the one who’s been in the most consistent contact with you over recent years. Get hard-headed, and treat the decision of who represents you in selling your biggest asset as a business decision.

The key criteria that I consider when interviewing sales agents are:

Market share of similar properties in the immediate and surrounding areas. I want an agent who understands local conditions and prices best, and who is regular contact with active buyers. I don’t want an agent who’s meeting interested parties for the first time at the first open, I want him/her to have intel on buyers before our property is advertised.

Auction success rates. While you may not choose an auction as the best way to sell your particular property, auction success rates are good indicators of how good the agent is in managing a campaign: setting a suitable price, managing vendor and buyer expectations, promoting the key property characteristics, enticing offers, etc. Related to this, I want an agent who can negotiate prior to and after auctions.

The team behind the agent. I want an agent who can bring passive buyers (sometimes from out of area), and who can create multiple touchpoints with buyers throughout the campaign. Many agencies have shared commission structures that encourage non-listing colleagues to introduce buyers to properties, and assist with negotiations. That’s a good thing.

I admit that I’m a hard taskmaster, but I reckon I’m fair. I work very hard for my clients, and I expect the same level of dedication and professionalism from those who work for my interests.

Above all, demand that a bit of homework has been done prior to meeting. And, of course, trust your instincts, but use your head.

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