How To Compare Real Estate Agents – Find The Best [11 Top Tips]

You’d think that it would be easy to compare real estate agents, right?

But it isn’t.

When you are putting your property in the hands of someone else, we can all agree that we need to feel confident that this individual knows how to give us the service we deserve.

Because of this, we promise to help you get the best real estate agent based on actual results, not because of a sales pitch.

To get to the best for your dollar, asking smart questions and a little healthy scepticism never hurt anyone.

Today we talk about the critical factors to watch out for when comparing real estate agents in your area.

Here’s our 11 top tips for comparing real estate agents:

1. Interview The Agent With These Top Questions

Major qualities such as level of commitment and work ethic might be difficult to uncover at the onset.

Try to adapt a 3-prong approach when questioning a real estate agent.

1. First, cover the basics like:

  • experience
  • qualification
  • property speciality

2. Try to get a sense of what type of communicator the agent appears to be. Is the agent a frequent emailer or prefers immediate updates over the phone?

Most importantly:

Make sure you know how you will communicate and how often the agent is available. Do they have assistants to help lighten their workload?

3. Think of it in terms of your doctor or accountant. You are about to start one of the most significant professional relationships you’ll ever have. It’s about comfort level.

Also:

Personality plays a crucial element to this.

See to it that you match. If you can imagine working with the agent on a daily basis, then you’re a good fit.

2. Get A Hold Of Their Property Sales History

A good starting point is to identify all individual agents who sell similar properties to yours in the area.

Why?

This will provide you with a short list of experienced agents to interview.

The top agents should have the experience and track record to sell your property, and importantly, a database of buyers already looking for your property.

Take the WREA agent comparison tool, for example. It outlines:

  • all the agents in your area
  • properties and property types they have sold
  • the days on market
  • prices achieved (versus the advertised price)

This tool helps you quickly identify who sells faster and smarter.

Note:

There’s more to an agent than the numbers he or she represents. Face-to-face interviews are essential to ensure there is also a personal fit.

3. It’s A Numbers Game, Look At Real Estate Agent Reviews

We aren’t just referring to online testimonials, but also real-time feedback from past and current clients. Is most of their feedback positive?

Let me explain:

An agent who has been in the industry for five years would have accumulated at least 500 contacts or a list of buyers given the reasonable amount of time.

Ask for references from the agent and find the time to talk to them briefly to give you a general sense of how he or she has helped them. Any good agent would be ready to provide references or examples of happy sellers upon request.

4. Match Your Property Type To The Agent

Now listen to this very carefully:

Understanding your property and how your potential buyers perceive it is important.

You want to hire the agent or agency that is efficient and known for selling your type of property. The same practical principle applies when selling a car.

You wouldn’t want to bring your Mitsubishi Triton to a Porsche salesperson. Though both vehicles serve the purpose of taking you from point A to B, the number of passengers they can carry and the type of roads they’re designed for are completely different.

Agents also have preferred sets of properties they want to sell. Before committing to one, ensure the agent can deliver the services required in selling your property.

It’s everything from giving you an accurate appraisal number to knowing how much you should invest to up your property’s value. If they haven’t worked with a property like yours before – look somewhere else.

5. Make Sure They Are Transparent & Keep Records

You’ll know the agent is a keeper if the agent makes it a point to:

  • keep track of payable fees
  • track marketing costs
  • maintain a record of contract lengths
  • note expected sale price ranges
  • offer feedback on inspection numbers
  • be transparent on comments
  • listen to suggestions from potential buyers
  • act in your best interest at all times

An agent who does this has nothing to hide – they’re a salesperson to help people, not to make a quick buck. You can rest assured knowing that everything is written down in stone – from their fee structure to the details and comments of interested buyers.

6. Find An Agent That Maximises Your Profits

The formula is to get the highest possible price for the lowest possible cost.

How?

Agents perceive marketability of each property differently.

Here is where their varying levels of knowledge and experience come to the forefront. But the end goal remains the same, to sell.

It’s standard practice to get recommendations from agents on a few minor renovations to increase market appeal. That much you can expect on the onset.

What you’re looking for is the agent who is confident with his or her impact on buyers. Their capacity to persuade them without having to go over budget is key.

Improvements and presentation are not the same thing. A good agent will tell you what to improve in the house to captivate buyers. And they’ve done it before – that’s why they know.

The agent should be able to tell you why property styling, drone photography, or larger renovations are things you should or shouldn’t consider when you try to sell.

Can they tell you exactly why they’re opting to put your property up for auction rather than private treaty?

Remember:

Highest price in the shortest time with the least cost to you.

7. Make Sure Your Agent Is Trustworthy

Like any relationship, trust matters.

There are many ways to manifest trustworthiness. Disclosing sales statistics without you having to ask for it is noteworthy.

Keep in mind:

If you don’t think you can trust the agent, then go with your gut and don’t hire. Chances are, there’s someone out there suited for you and your property.

They should be able to explain why they have made certain decisions on your property, like the fee structure they are charging you or why you need to repaint your property.

8. Ensure They Have Knowledge On The Local Market

A word of caution:

When you sign an agreement with an agent, you may be locked into it for a particular period.

So before you take the plunge, have an agent give you an evaluation of property prices.

Then:

Invite another agent to do the same.

And then another.

A minimum of three agents from different agencies should be reasonable enough.

Don’t just listen to the one that gives you the highest price on your property.

Dishonest agents love the phrase, “deteriorating market conditions” – they can blame your low sales price on everything but themselves.

Listen to why the agents say your property is appraised at the value that it is. Go with the one that knows what they’re talking about.

9. Verify The Agent’s Relevant Experience By Looking At Their Buyer Database

As we mentioned earlier:

An agent in the industry for five years must already have a substantial contact list directly proportional to his or her number of working years.

But more often than not, quality is better than quantity.

When you’re selling a three bedroom house, you don’t want the agent with thousands of buyers in their database who’s only sold one bedroom units.

Get the one agent who’s been talking to interested families for the past decade – they may only have a hundred in their database, but who’s more likely to buy your house?

Likewise:

If you are selling a high-profile property, you will want to hire the agent with the most extensive list of luxury property buyers, and so-on.

10. See What The Agent Does For Buyers & Third-Parties

Buyers want to deal with agents who will listen to them. Some agents ignore buyer enquiries and just enter their details into a database. What kind of relationship is that?

Now, of course:

To close the deal, the agent needs to have a clear communication channel in place. One that’s conducive for open dialogues with other parties involved in the transaction, from tradesmen to solicitors and conveyancers.

Agents work in close collaboration with representatives from the buyer and seller’s side, so they need to strike the right balance in developing and maintaining these relationships.

Always:

Insist on choosing the good negotiator rather than the slick salesperson. They need to be personable to everyone.

This will ensure the successful exchange of contracts from both sides.

11. Agree On A Commission & Fee Structure That Works For You

After all: it’s the agent that will do the work – you need to remunerate them fairly.

Just like you pay for renovations or styling, think of monetizing the agent sufficiently as part of your overall investment for the property. and its sale price.

Never go with the agent that’s undercutting everyone else – there are loads of good reasons why.

Chances are, low-commission agents are dividing their time amongst a lot of properties, just trying to get them to sell fast rather than at a good price.

According to to Real Estate Institute of Australia president Malcolm Gunning, “you get a poor price for a poor fee”. Agents with very little incentive to get you a better price simply can’t give you a better service.

Final Comparison Tips

People know more about how to buy a car than they do about how to compare real estate agents.

It’s a once, or twice if you’re lucky, in a lifetime deal.

In summary:

Make the right decision by comparing your agent options. Scrutinise their sales histories and relevant experience.

Understand the amount of work involved and pay when it’s fair. Make sure you put in the work you need to choose the right agent. It will pay off in the end – literally.

Given the right blend of factors that you apply when comparing agents, you will be successful in vetting and selecting the right agent to sell your property.

Need help getting started or an extra agent or two to compare against? Have a look at our agent comparison tool.