How to Avoid Dodgy Real Estate Agents When Selling

By Peter Sarmas on 17 Jul 2013

How to Avoid a Dodgy Agent

Follow these tips to avoid dodgy agents

Real estate agents are often stereotyped as people who would say anything to make a sale.

Let’s face it – the profession has a bad reputation. It’s important to remember that like any industry, there are good agents just as there are bad ones.

Good agents can be hard to come by, so check out our tips below to track them down and avoid the dodgy agents.

What Should You Look for When Sourcing a Good Agent?

Word of mouth is always an excellent indicator of the type of agent you’re dealing with.

Ask around – someone you know is likely to have had a good experience with an agent in your area, or will at least know someone else who has. Likewise, if you hear any dodgy stories, steer clear. It’s not worth the hassle.

Look at Their Credentials

Your next step should be investigating your potential agent’s online credentials.

Source an agent from the web entirely if you’re not satisfied with word of mouth. Type their name into Google with the word “review”.

Previous client reviews offer a great glimpse into the kind of service you can expect from them, and often independent third party reviews will be able to provide you with some extra detail, such as any specialties they have, their selling success rate, and the sorts of prices they have secured for their clients and whether this is above or below average for the area.

Attend Their Open Houses

Once you find an agent you like, it is always a good idea to go to one of their open houses to get a first hand look at their presentation and follow up.

There are some key things that will tell you a lot about the way they work. To begin with, it is crucial that they are punctual. Could you trust someone who can’t turn up on time to sell your house? 

Their professionalism should also be noted here. Make a conscious effort to check that they are well dressed. Even if you personally are not too concerned with their appearance, many potential buyers could be turned off by an agent who dresses sloppily.

Small details like this all add to the impression a potential buyer will take away from visiting your open house – and you want to present your home the best you can.

Have a chat to them. Do you like them? Can you get along with them? If you can’t bear the agent and think they are unlikable, it could impact your final sale price, because your buyer will feel the same.

If potential buyers share your sentiments, they aren’t going to want to pay top dollar.

An agent’s likeability goes hand in hand with their negotiating skills. Also, keep in mind that if you choose this person to sell your house, you will be spending a lot of time with them during the process. Make sure it’s someone who you feel can work with you.

Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Chat to your potential agent to get a feel for their likability and knowledge

This chat will also be a terrific opportunity to quiz them on their local knowledge. They should be able to compare local property and prices. You should also ask them about local schools, shops and public transport – everything you expect your potential buyers might want to know when considering your property.

An agent who can’t answer questions like these obviously hasn’t done their homework. This is a big indicator of their dedication when it comes to getting the best possible price for that particular property.

Consider Their Communication Skills

Now – very important. Do they return your calls? Consider whether they made the effort to chase you up after the open house. Did you call them? Did they return your call? How long did it take?

These are very important questions – how they respond to you will be a clear indicator of how they will treat your potential buyers.

If they are a genuinely busy agent and it takes a few hours to return your call, that’s fine. But if they seem to be relatively inactive and it still takes a day to follow up your phone call, you would be wise to consider looking elsewhere.

Look For an Agent Familiar With Your Area

Although it should not be a mandatory requirement, it would be handy to pair with an agent who has experience selling houses in your area, and who works for a company that has sold similar properties.

In an ideal situation, the agent will be able to prove an extensive database of potential buyers who are looking for a house that matches your criteria, or who may have missed out on similar properties in the area.

Don’t Fall For Empty Promises

Make sure you don’t fall for the empty promises of an over-quoting agent – the one who claims they can bring you the biggest price, yet asks the lowest commission.

A good agent will know their worth and be weary of ones who appear to be selling themselves short. Does what they’re saying sound too good to be true? If so, it probably is.

Tell them directly that you want a realistic price. You need to state this to them clearly, and don’t be offended if they don’t quote the price you hoped for. Ask them to explain why they expect your property to bring in this price.

A good agent will go through recent sales with you, and be able to support their claims. If you aren’t reassured by this, another option is to call in an independent valuer.

This is particularly important if you’re looking to commit to a buy before you sell. You don’t want to make another commitment and buy a property on the premise of getting a high price for your home.

It’s All About The Shoes

One last thing, which is a favourite of mine – shoes.

When it comes to selling houses, the importance of image and presentation cannot be underestimated.

Shoes can be the most neglected aspect of an agent (or anyone’s) appearance. Clean and tidy shoes signify a sense of pride in the agent themselves, as well as their overall attention to detail.

Choose an agent who will make the effort to present your home in the best possible manner and work hardest to earn your property the best possible market price.

About the Author

Peter Sarmas is a Certified Property Investment Advisor (PIAA) and Vendor/Buyer Advocate. Before becoming the founder of Street News, Peter completed a Degree in Applied Science (Chemistry) and a Graduate Diploma in Property Valuations (Hons). Peter believes property investing is a major and potentially risky undertaking. In his view, everyone should have an independent person acting on their behalf when seeking property investment advice.

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