Real estate agents can help you get the best possible price for your home when selling. But before you sign on the dotted line with an agent, gathering all the details you need to make an informed decision is essential. Below are ten questions to ask a real estate agent when selling your home. Some are straightforward, but you want answers that tick all your boxes.
1. “What’s your experience with properties like mine?”
When you ask a prospective agent this question, you don’t just want to know how long they’ve been in the business and how many properties they’ve sold. You also should know how long they’ve been working in the local market and selling similar properties.
Also, check that they understand local planning regulations and development proposals that could affect the property’s value.
2. “How much will my home sell for, and how do you value properties?”
Questions like this seem almost too obvious to ask your real estate agent — but don’t skip it. Of course, every seller wants to know what price they might get when selling their property. But, what you want in the answer is how the agent arrived at their valuation.
Once you know what you’re likely to get — and why — you can plan accordingly. For example, that could mean holding off on the sale if the property market is weak and you don’t need to sell immediately.
3. “Can you estimate the total cost of selling my property?”
The next most obvious question everyone asks is how much it will cost them to sell their property. That number could include everything from renovations and marketing to the agent’s commission.
Your agent should be able to advise you on how much you’ll need to spend on getting your house ready for sale and on marketing. These costs may include:
- Conveyancing fees to your solicitor — generally between $800 and $2000, depending on the size and location of the property.
- Mortgage discharge fees or break fees if you plan to pay your mortgage out early, depending on the terms of your loan. These costs shouldn’t generally be above $1000.
- Depending on where you advertise, marketing could cost anything up to $5000 or more.
- The agent may take a flat fee, which stays the same regardless of the sale price. Or, they’ll get a commission, which is usually a percentage of between 2%-2.5%.
Once you have a total, you can negotiate with the agent on their commission if you desire. The final cost of selling your property should be a small fraction of the sale price, but it all adds up. Keeping costs down whenever you can is a good thing.
4. “What selling strategy do you recommend for my property?”
In Australia, the main ways to sell a property are through private treaty, which involves an agreement between a buyer and seller for a set amount, or via auction. Both have their pros and cons depending on the state of the market.
Your agent might recommend an auction because of the characteristics of your property and its potential to attract lots of bidders. Or, if there’s no emergency to get a sale, they might suggest a private treaty where the property is on the market for longer. Ask your real estate agent questions about the advantages and disadvantages of each option,
Whatever they recommend, they should provide a timeline of how long they expect the sale to take and how long the marketing campaign should run.
» MORE: What does ‘under offer’ mean?
5. “Is now a good time to sell, considering market conditions?”
The real estate market is in a state of constant fluctuation and could be in a downturn due to things such as ongoing high interest rates or general economic malaise. It may be better to hold off selling (if possible) in these situations. Or, if you absolutely need to sell, you could lower your reserve price (the minimum amount you are willing to accept).
Your agent should know which way the wind is blowing. Their opinion on how to proceed should be informed and based on their own recent results and accompanying industry data.
6. “How do you plan to market my property effectively?”
There are many ways to market a property these days — and some are more successful than others — so this is certainly one of the questions you should ask your real estate agent.
The most common is through online advertising and open inspections, where buyers can look over the property for some time, typically between 20 minutes and an hour. Print publications, especially local newspapers, are still perfectly valid places to advertise a property as would-be local buyers read them.
An experienced agent should know which combination of the above is best for your property and the time required to market it successfully.
7. “Do I need to do any renovations?”
Sometimes, spending a certain amount on renovations and upkeep will be well and truly worth it — especially if you see the results obtained on renovation and auction television shows.
However, you may be strapped for time and cash. So, spending $25,000 on renovations just isn’t viable for you. And, if you don’t get a return at sale time, it may also not be worth the aggravation.
Your agent should give you a good idea of what should be done to the property before it gets marketed. They can also help you assess whether or not spending more now will give you a greater return when you sell.
8. “Who will manage inspections and open houses?”
Some agents will get you to agree to sell with them but then send a junior to attend the open home inspections. That could mean they aren’t prioritising the sale of your property.
It may be hard to get a written guarantee, but you should check with the agent to see if they will handle the sale personally.
9. “What happens if the property sells below the quoted price?”
When you sign an agency agreement, the agency must give you a written assessment of the property’s value.
However, if the agent does not achieve that assessed price at sale time, you should not have to pay their full commission. What happens in the event of this possibility is something you should negotiate with the agent at the outset.
10. “Can I contact your past clients?”
Finally, while you may like the agent and feel you could easily do business with them, you should check their recent track record. That’s the only way to be sure who you’re dealing with.
You could request recent sales figures. You can also ask for the contact details of recent clients who should be happy to recommend them if they achieved good sales for them.
Any reluctance on the part of the agent to provide this information could be a red flag.
DIVE EVEN DEEPER
When you move properties, the last thing you want to deal with is taking out a whole new mortgage. Thankfully, home loan portability is a relatively easy way to transfer your mortgage from one property to another and keep the same loan.
A mortgage broker can be a great asset whether you’re a first-time home buyer, looking for an investment property or are thinking about refinancing your existing mortgage. Make sure they’re a good fit for you by asking the right questions.