7 Home Seller Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Real Estate Agent
When it’s time to sell your property, how do you go about choosing a real estate agent?
I’m sure there won’t be any problem in locating the nearest real estate agent!
Heck, that’s the easy part!
After all, you see real estate agent signages in every town, every neighborhood, and pretty much on every street corner!
However, deciding on choosing which real estate agent is something completely different!
Will he do a successful job of selling your property for the highest price, in the shortest period of time, and the least amount of inconvenience to you?
Most of us don’t normally get exposed to real estate agents too often, other than a few times in our lifetime.
Therefore, choosing a real estate agent might not be the most straightforward decision to make, wouldn’t you agree?
Yet, a vital part of the marketing process of your home is actually the selection of the right real estate agent!
In other words, choosing the wrong real estate agent will undoubtedly lead to financial & emotional headaches ahead!
When choosing a real estate agent, there are a number of major home seller mistakes to avoid, and I have lined them up for you:
Mistake 1: Choosing a Real Estate Estate Agent Who Offers The Lowest Commission
Now that you’ve decided to sell your home, your next step will be to interview a number of real estate agents.
There are many agents out there who will undercut the competition by seriously lowering their commission, in an attempt to win the listing mandate!
“As a home seller, I’m saving money already, so why is that a bad thing?” you say.
Well, there are a few ways of looking at it:
- Reduced commission means reduced marketing resources available to assist in getting your home sold. The potential marketing tools that agent suggested he’ll be using, will be substantially less than what a full commission agent could offer as part of his marketing strategy of your property.
That’s a fair business conclusion, no?
- Now, say this listing agent decides to go the route of heavily discounting the commission rate so he can get your property listed, how many buyer agents are likely going to be turned off once they find out how small their cut of the commission will be? Hence, it would financially benefit the buyer agent to take his client elsewhere and be paid a standard market going commission for the services provided.
Let’s think how many buyer agents would get excited to work with your listing agent?
- And, finally, aren’t you curious to know why the agent needs to lower his commission by that much just to get the listing mandate? When he drops his commission at a drop of a hat (thereby hurting his bottom line), how good will he be when it’s negotiation time on the price of your property? Thereby hurting your bottom line?!
Does making this decision still make you warm and fuzzy at the thought of saving money?
Before signing up with the real estate agent who’s offering the lowest commission, please read the above again.
Hopefully, it will put his listing presentation in perspective versus what other real estate agents are bringing to the table when marketing your home.
Mistake 2: Choosing a Real Estate Agent Who Gives You The Highest Listing Price
Now that you’ve decided to go on the market with your (overpriced) property, odds are quite high that you will eventually sell your home at a price below the going market price.
One can truly not emphasize enough the importance of starting one’s marketing process with the correct asking price!
The first 3-to-4 weeks of marketing are crucial and if the asking price is too high, unfortunately, potential home buyers will simply not even consider your listing.
Never mind taking the time to go view it!
And, to be honest, why would they?
The property is out of their price range anyway!
Or worse, a lot of real estate agents might even use your overpriced property to bounce their educated home buyers off to more correctly priced properties.
“Now that we’ve seen what $500,000 gets you here, wait until I show you the next home which is marketed at exactly the same price. You’ll be blown away by the high finishes and many extra features!”
Is that how you want agents and buyers to do when they’re viewing your home?
I didn’t think so either!
Regardless how you look at it, the end result will be that the overpriced property will sit on the market for a much longer time.
And it will eventually sell at a much lower price than would have been achieved if only it was priced correctly from the start!
Now, let’s assume there’s actually this one buyer who decides to put in an offer!
Another unfortunate risk you’ll run with selling an overpriced property is that the banks will have trouble finding value during their appraisal; thereby limiting the finance amount for the buyer.
And, unless there is a bigger deposit to make up the difference, the deal is likely to fall through.
All this effort, time, stress and living in hope, just to see it all go to waste!
Being a home seller, you only have one chance to make a first impression!
And, sure, while one might be tempted to be choosing the real estate agent who suggested marketing your property at a higher price, please make sure to ask for proof of how that price was determined by means of a Comparable Market Analysis.
Check with the agent what is currently on the market with similar features as your property.
Having a look at the recent sales of similar homes in your area will give you, as the homeowner, a more realistic expectation regarding the likely sale price of your property.
Plus, it will immediately set the agent straight regarding the listing price he put forward.
Mistake 3: Choosing a Real Estate Agent Who Sold The Most Properties
I admit that this one might be somewhat counterintuitive!
One might be tempted to use the total number of properties sold as the sole measuring stick in choosing a real estate agent.
While the agent who only manages to sell a couple of properties last year, might not be your direct choice, the agent selling 50 properties in a given year should not immediately be the first choice either.
“Why?” you ask.
Bear with me: per Mistake 2 above, we now realize that the real estate agent who gives the highest listing price is probably going to get a lot of the listings.
Yet, it will become very evident that those overpriced properties aren’t selling (no kidding!) and will likely remain on the agent’s books for longer periods of time.
In other words, the number of properties that agent eventually sells versus renting the properties that he still has on the books will be quite low.
In real estate terms, they refer to it as the sales-to-listing ratio.
Who do you think to be the better agent: the real estate agent who sells 13 out of 15 listings or the agent who sells 20 out of 50 listings?!
Do yourself a favor and don’t go looking for the real estate agent who sold the most properties!
Rather have a look at how well the agent priced the property, how he suggested going about the marketing strategy, how his reactions were when you attempted to reduce his commission (ie test his negotiation skills) and of course, how his overall presentation and communication report was.
These skills will be very important when it comes to buyer negotiations!
Is the real estate agent’s overall service equivalent to the high sales figures?
Mistake 4: Choosing a Real Estate Agent Because He’s Family
Selling your house is very serious business.
Most real estate agents will agree that there’s no one sales contract the same!
Every client has his/her specific requirements, needs, wants & wishes and all of this needs to be properly documented by both buyer and seller agents.
Therefore, it is very important that not only during negotiation but also at the time of closing, that legally, everything is correctly worded.
You might be uncle Jack or cousin Marie’s favorite, but when it’s time to dive into some intense negotiation sessions, and subsequent legal paperwork, if things were not to work out with the buyer(s), it might be tough to split the personal from the business angle of the property sale!
Will you or your relative be able to look past whatever may have gone wrong during the home selling process if the experience wasn’t the greatest?
By all means, I’m not claiming you should never be choosing a real estate agent just because they’re family!
But one’s decision to choose the relative should perhaps not be automatically assumed!
Whoever will eventually be marketing your home should be going through a fair interview process together with other interested agents, all vying for the listing agent job!
Let the best (wo)man win!
Mistake 5: Choosing To Interview Only One Real Estate Agent
It might be highly recommended to interview real estate agents from different agencies, as each agency will have its own strengths in marketing and servicing.
The respective agents will have their own tools and skills to bring to the table when proposing their marketing plan of your property.
If you only interview one agent, you would be not exposed to any of that.
As in a lot of other businesses, the 80/20 rule applies in real estate.
(If anything, it’s skewed even more dramatic as numbers of near 90/10 in certain real estate markets are more common).
In other words, the remaining 80-90% of agents will do whatever it takes to gain those relatively few remaining listings; even if it means exaggerating ‘a bit’ when it comes to the listing price.
As a non-real estate agent, this might hard to comprehend but believe me, it’s extremely frustrating to see that happening right before your eyes by the competing agents!
A lot of the time, the home sellers will have no idea what exactly is taking place there!
Let’s put it in context:
Say you’re only interviewing one real estate agent to list your property, you should then know that there’s an 80-90% probability that you will get one of the latter ones!
To get the listing mandate, these agents will tell you whatever you want to hear in order to get your business.
Is that the type of risk you want to run by interviewing just one real estate agent?
Mistake 6: Choosing a Real Estate Agent Without Checking His References
It always amazes me to see how little research home sellers do prior to choosing a real estate agent.
A lot of times, it seems that people spend way more time reading up on the latest reviews before buying that newest UHD TV than actually researching the real estate agent’s history, before hiring him!
And yet, the financial impact is easily 100 times bigger and will impact you for the next 20 years!
When choosing a real estate agent, besides looking at his listings, have you ever Googled his details, and tried finding him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter?
And did the social activity on those platforms coincide with the professionalism and service you expected?
Every real estate agent should be able to provide you, as the home seller, with a list of references.
Obviously, the trick will be to bypass the ones that were hand selected and made it on that list!
Why not ask the real estate agent details of the current listings he’s working on and ask him whether you can call or email a few of those clients?
You will very quickly find out how these recent clients rate the real estate agent’s professionalism and services throughout the property selling process.
Another somewhat sneaky way to find out how an agent behaves when he’s not around his sellers is to go ‘mystery shopping’.
Call him at his office, or stop by one of his showhouses or even have someone call for you, and enquire about a certain property where sensitive questions get asked (eg “What’s the lowest offer the owners will take for this home?“).
Will the agent divulge crucial information he should not have revealed?
Mistake 7: Choosing a Real Estate Agent Who’s Working Part-Time
Why do you think there’s such a high turnover of real estate agents?
Any 3rd party might look at their local real estate agent and believe he’s got a cushy life, driving around town all day with these buyers, doing a couple of seller presentations and signing the big sales contracts.
Selling real estate really can’t be that difficult, now can it?
Well, the question needs to be asked whether the real estate agent is doing this part-time or is full-time involved in the real estate business.
Let’s be serious: how could a part-time real estate agent possibly be flexible enough doing all these buyer viewings?
And if he’s doing it part-time, how long will it take before clients get a response back to their inquiries?
Or worse, how quickly will the agent be able to show those clients the property?
What will be the timing of the marketing of the property? After hours? Weekends?
Finally, where do you as the home seller fit into this schedule?
Overall, the work that is involved in managing the listing, marketing it, giving it the much-needed exposure, writing offers, and finally, selling it & bringing it to a successful close, demands the attention of a full-time real estate agent!
You did perhaps not realize how many mistakes a home seller can make when choosing a real estate agent, and how easily it can sometimes be to be making them!
If there’s one thing I would like you to take away from this article, it definitely should be to avoid THE biggest home seller mistake of overpricing your property.
As you may slip through the cracks with the other home seller mistakes when choosing a real estate agent and not necessarily experience a professional home selling service, in the end, at the right price, at least your property will be sold!
Please apply the above information to avoid home seller mistakes when choosing a real estate agent!
Who knows, it might result in, not only in saving you thousands, but also avoid unnecessary emotional drama!
Additional Resources on Choosing a Real Estate Agent:
- Home Sellers: Expect More From Your Realtor via Karen Highland
- 20 Cold, Hard Facts In Real Estate Home Selling via Lynn Pineda
- Top Home Seller Mistakes When Selecting A Realtor via Maximum Real Estate Exposure
- 5 Tips To Selecting The ‘Right’ Real Estate Agent To Sell Your Home via Kyle Hiscock
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
About the author: The above article “7 Home Seller Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Real Estate Agent” was written by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Johannesburg real estate agent. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 15 years combined experience as a real estate agent and real estate investor, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Johannesburg, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.
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