How to Choose the Best Real Estate Agent: A Comprehensive Guide

September 12, 2021

Hiring a real estate agent is one of the most important decisions you will make as a home buyer or seller. In order to choose the best agent for your needs, there are many things that you need to consider. This article will give you an overview of what those considerations are and how you can research agents before making a final decision.


Word of mouth from the right sources

Word of mouth from the right sources is a great place to start.  Referrals can help you narrow down your options, but they should not be the only factor that weighs into your final decision as an agent's past performance does not necessarily indicate future success. Often when choosing a real estate agent, personal referrals are the most meaningful for a seller.

Referrals can help you narrow down your options, but they should not be the only factor that weighs into your final decision as an agent's past performance does not necessarily indicate future success.

Sometimes what has worked for a friend of yours in the past may not be in your best interest.  One good way to do this is by using online reviews and testimonials from previous clients, which you can find on any agent's website or on sites like ratemyagent.co.nz

It is important to do your research before hiring a real estate agent.

Online reviews and testimonials from previous clients can give you an idea of how trustworthy the individual really is. Research their online presence by checking out their website, social media profiles, blog posts etc., which will allow you get a better sense of who they are and what makes them unique.

Research their online presence by checking out their website, social media profiles, blog posts etc., which will allow you get a better sense of who they are and what makes them unique.

Check to see if your potential agent has any affiliations with local or national real estate associations as this can provide further insight into their professionalism and level of service. Before choosing the best real estate agent, be clear on who the agent represents and their character.

Do some secret shopping - Attend their open homes and judge their performance

Attend their open homes and judge their performance for yourself to see if they really are as good as the reviews say they are!   You can also do some secret shopping by attending their open homes to see if they are as good of a realtor as the reviews say.   This way you can see for yourself what kind of service they provide and if it is really worth your time.

While you are there, watch how the best real estate agent treats potential buyers/sellers to get a good sense of what working with them will be like.  You can learn an awful lot about someone's character by observing their behaviour in stressful circumstances so take notes during this time.  If they appear rude and disrespectful when dealing with others, this may be an indication of how they will act when working with you. Real estate agents are generally very polite and professional, so it will be easy to rule agents out at this stage.

Request property appraisals to get an idea of an agents experience and your properties value.

Another way to research a great real estate agent is by requesting property appraisals.  When you request an appraisal, this will give you a better idea of exactly how experienced they are and if their knowledge base covers your specific area or not. This can be very valuable information when making such an important decision. This will allow you to see how knowledgeable and experienced they are and if your home's value accurately reflects its worth.  

The right agent offer free appraisals  so it is highly recommended that you take advantage of this offer. During the appraisal, watch how they respond to questions and gauge their general knowledge about property values in your area. If they do not seem knowledgeable or cannot answer the appraiser's questions adequately then this may be a red flag for future dealings with them as an agent needs to know

An important note about the appraised price of your property

An appraisal figure may differ slightly between an individual agent but there should be no wild swings. Make sure each agent can justifiably give you the figure they are offering you. Some agents may be conservative or prefer caution. Many appraise or otherwise sell your property for much higher prices to capture its price. Often the agents valuation will also inform how they list the property and at what starting price. This strategy can make a massive difference to the end result, so caution is advised.

Interview at least 3 different agents

Interview at least three agents and make a list of pros and cons for each one.  This will help you narrow down your options until you find the best agent to work with that meets all your needs.

During this time, be sure to ask yourself: How much experience do they have? Are their reviews online positive or negative? What is their response time like? What is their level of professionalism and knowledge base?

It is important to do your research before hiring a real estate agent.  There are many different ways you can go about this process but interviewing at least three agents will give you the best possible chance for success in finding the right one!

Ask the right questions when interviewing a real estate agent

Your first conversation with an agent should feel like job interview. Don't take advantage of the agents who tell you it's possible to sell the house for the most money or the one that offers the least commission. A few questions you might consider including in your agent interview are;

  1. What's your experience in my area and selling this type of property?
  2. What is your commission and fee structure?
  3. Do you have any affiliations with local or national associations? If so, how can these benefit me?
  4. Do you work with a team or by yourself?
  5. What side of the business do you specialise in (buyer / seller)?
  6. What is your response time like and what support services will I get if we work together?
  7. Do you offer free appraisals and how often should I expect them to happen?
  8. If you require you agent to communicate in any language other than english, ask them.
  9. What is your process and how will you communicate with me?
  10. If the sale if this property is impacted by Covid19, how will you respond to make sure the sale process is as smooth as possible?
  11. Do you have any special clauses in your agent agreement?
  12. Who pays for marketing the property? Do you have set marketing packages or is each solution custom?
  13. Is the agent a registered agent with the real estate authority's registry?
  14. Check the real estate authority website for any notes or misconduct on the agent

The right real estate agent will be able to offer the complete solution

A good real estate agent will not only be answer all of the above questions well, but also provide a big picture solution including;

A comprehensive marketing strategy

A prospective agent should be able to assist by giving marketing options that fit within your budget. They might provide options for digital and print advertising, google ads, facebook or instagram ads, leaflet drops and all kinds of creative strategies.

Make sure they know what you want and allow the agent to guide you into making a decision that will work best for your property.  With their guidance, it is possible to target potential buyers in ways that fit within your budget!

Give advise on the best time of year to sell

Another thing an agent should be able to do is give you honest advice on the best time of year to sell. There are different strategies for selling depending on which season it is and every property has a fair market value that might affect this decision as well.

Even if your house isn't going to sell at its highest price, by choosing the right time of year, you could save yourself a lot in the long run.

Adjust depending on the type of property

Think about how an agent it pitching to sell based on the type of property or target buyer . For example, a unit or apartment would be sold differently to a townhouse and units in the same complex will sell at different prices. Is the property suited to investors as a rental property? These are things your agent should be able to advise you on.

The right real estate agent for the job will have a process and strategy in place that is going to work best for this type of property . If they don't, move onto another option because it's not worth wasting time with an agent who doesn't know what they're doing!

Remember that it is not just about the best price but also location and size of the property as well! Make sure your agent understands this because these factors can make or break any sale.

Help you find your next home if you are looking to buy

Finally, a good real estate agent can help you find your next home if you are looking to buy. They might be able to give advise on what type of house is in demand and which suburbs or areas would suit the property best, do they work with other agents to make sure the property sells?

When choosing a real estate agent consider fees and commission structure

It is important that you consider the fee and commission structure of your agent.  The commission percentage varies between agents so make sure to perform plenty of research before hiring anyone.

If you are looking for an agent to sell your house, it is important that you understand the different fee structures and commissions available. The commission structure can include fixed or variable components so make sure to research costs before hiring anyone.

Normally agent commissions are negotiable  so you do not have to accept the first offer made. Typically, real estate agents charge between two and three percent of your house's sale price but this can vary depending on location or property type so be sure to do your research and consider the fee structure before hiring anyone.

Also consider any fees other than the commission, like Trademe.co.nz listing fees, print marketing, digital marketing and other service fees.

The other important thing to look at it is if your agent includes GST in their offer or not. Because you are more than likely not a business and GST registered, you need to pay the GST along with the commission price. This additional 15% on the invoice can shock some sellers.

Shortlist your potential agents do background checks

At this stage, it is recommended do all of the necessary background checks on any potential real estate agent. This includes checking their licence and registration with the real estate authority's (REA) agent registry. Once you have shortlisted real estate agents, now comes the work to make sure you get the agent with a proven track record.

If you haven't already, search for any positive or negative press about the agent or their business. This can be done by checking online reviews, blogs and forums about them.

You may also want to consider asking for client referrals of any agents you are considering working with as it is possible that past clients would provide their feedback on the service they received if asked nicely enough

Once satisfied with your shortlist, begin negotiations with your preferred agent and decide on a contract and sign an agency agreement. An agency agreement is a legal requirement in New Zealand

Choosing a great real estate agent is one of the most important decisions you'll make when selling your home. It's important to interview at least 3 agents and based on their fee structure, commission rates, background checks and reviews from past clients decide which one will be best for you. Once you've found an agent that seems like a good fit with what you're looking for in terms of service, begin negotiations by drafting up a contract before signing anything!

Final thoughts

This article is an in-depth guide on how to choose the right agent. Part of this process includes researching different real estate agents by interviewing 3 or more so you know what services they offer, their commission rates and when they charge fees for marketing materials. You need to take into account GST in your agent's fee structure, any reviews about the agent online, their licence with the REA registry and also look at how often they are required to provide appraisals. Once you have a shortlist of potential agents, begin negotiations with your preferred one by drafting up a contract. Then just  wait for the big day!





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