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The value of a local agent and questions to ask

The value of a local agent and questions to ask

By Sarah Lefebvre on Jan 08 2019


Finding the right agent to sell your property is a big decision. As your home is probably your most valuable asset, choosing the right agent has a direct impact on how quickly you sell, how many potential buyers are interested in your property and how much you sell for.

One of the most important criteria to consider is whether the agent is active in your local area.  Their local knowledge and expertise will often help sell your property faster and for the best possible price.

What is a local agent?

The definition of ‘local’ has changed over recent years.  It used to mean the real estate agency had to be physically located as a bricks and mortar office within the neighbourhood.  Residents would stroll past and gaze into the window to find out what was for sale.  However, that's not necessarily the case now.  By local we mean an agent with in-depth knowledge of the local area, who has a strong sales record and even better if it is with properties similar to your own.  

In a suburban area a local agent should be active in your actual suburb and perhaps its immediate surrounds.  If you’re selling in a regional area, while an agent covers a much wider area, the same rules apply – look for an agent with good sales records of similar properties to yours in the same area.

Advantages of using a local agent

Inside knowledge of the suburb

A local agent lives and breathes real estate in your area and they know how to sell not only your property, but the suburb benefits as well.  Their knowledge of past sales and local market trends are top of mind and they are more likely to be able to upsell your property because they will know how to compare it in the marketplace.  The confidence they display is evident to potential buyers and this translates to buyers trusting the agent’s sales pitch.

Understand the potential value of your property

If an agent has recently sold a property next door, one down the road and one a street away there’s a good chance they will have a pretty clear idea as to how much your property could sell for.  Markets obviously change and for that matter they can change within a four-week auction campaign, however having this experience gives the agent an insight into the market, what buyers are looking for and how much demand there is for properties like your own.

Having a solid understanding as to how much you could sell your property for gives you confidence when embarking on the sales campaign.

Database of prospective buyers

An agent who is active in your area and is familiar with selling your type of property will undoubtedly have a database of prospective buyers they can tap into even before your property goes on the market.

Local testimonials

As part of the interview process you should ask the agent to provide testimonials from past local clients.  Testimonials can help give you peace of mind and confidence that you are choosing the right agent for you.  You never know you might even know the person who wrote the testimonial!

Local tradespeople

Local agents have local tradespeople so if your property is need of some quick repairs before it goes on the market, they can often ensure their team of reliable local tradespeople can get to your place quickly and finish the job efficiently.   

To help you find the right local agent here are 10 questions to ask when interviewing a real estate agent:

1. What local properties have you sold recently?

This will enable you to not only see their success rate, but also the kinds of homes they're selling within the neighbourhood. For example, if you're selling your two-bedroom house, you won't want an agent that has predominantly been selling units.

2. How long have you been selling real estate in the area and do you have any testimonials from previous 'local' clients?

A good real estate agent will happily provide you with a list of previous clients that you can speak with. If not, then you know that something might be amiss.

3. Can you show me your licence and registration?

Sounds like something an American cop would say in a tacky TV show right? Only ask this if you're unable to find their licence details online with your relevant state authority. All real estate agents must go through a stringent licensing process before they are legally allowed to practice - the penalties for working without one are worse than being caught operating a car without a driver’s licence.

4. How would you sell my house and why?

There are several ways to sell a home, and all have their strengths and weaknesses depending on the local market. Asking this question is a good way to gauge the agent's knowledge of the property market, with your area in particular
 
For example: "I would sell your home by auction, as figures from last week show that homes in your area sold with an 80 per cent success rate."

5. What advertising and marketing do you recommend?

Most of the time, the marketing of your home comes out of your pocket so you want to be clear on what you're actually paying for. Discuss the different options available, how they would like to advertise your property and how much this will cost.

6. How much do you think my home is worth?

This is probably the question you're most interested in! Be wary of agents that give you an unrealistic price - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ask what their opinion of market value is based on, as well as some examples of similar homes that have sold.

7. How long do you think it will be on the market?

This will give you an idea of the agent's expectations. You can compare it to the current average market time in your area to gain a better understanding.

8. What's your commission?

Find out how much the agent will charge you for their services, and then ask them to justify their fees - especially if they're more expensive than other agents. Remember that you're not looking for the cheapest, but the one who will offer you the most for their costs.

9. What makes you different?

With this question, you leave it to the agents to seal the deal and sell themselves. They'll be able to tell you why they're better than their competition, both as an agent and agency.

10. Do you host open for inspections?

This will show you how committed they are to selling your property – which is important
 
For nearly 90 years LJ Hooker has excelled at selling real estate right across Australia.  Our local agents are regarded as experts in their area; passionate, knowledgeable and motivated to sell your property for the best possible price.  We'd love to help sell your property

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