Appointing a real estate agent, What should I look for?

What do I need to think about when appointing a Real Estate Agent?

 

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It’s a massive decision just making the one to sell, let alone who you are going to entrust your biggest asset to. How the heck do I select a real estate agent? Who should I talk to? What do I look for? Where do I start? There are plenty of considerations, and circumstances that will effect your decision making process. But the most critical considerations should never be overlooked. Real estate agents are as varied as properties on the market, it’s one aspect of the industry that makes for interesting reading.  Pundits will say there are not enough listings out there, others will say there is too many real estate agents! But one thing is for sure, the right real estate agent is out there for you.  There are options that provide low or fixed fee solutions or even private selling. But considering these options don’t have all major market share, many vendors see working with market recognisable brands is right for them. Choices and decisions!!

A Real estate agent will generally have a slick presentation for your business. They put a lot of effort into these, they are professional and comprehensive. What you need to look for here, is the little stuff that is relevant to your situation. Have they listened to your needs, who is doing all the talking, and have they provided solutions or options for your consideration. Have they tried to point you in one direction, or have they given you options with relative data to support these? You need to work with an agent that is fully understanding of your needs. You pay the commission, you are the boss.

In my mind, the most critical part of the decision process must surround marketing. You just cannot expect an agent to produce a great result unless they have produced a great marketing campaign.  It’s really sad to note, that many real estate agents are weak in this aspect of the sale process. So much so, that we have seen the big player in the Auckland market, Barfoot & Thompson, LEGISLATE the agents on how they do visual assets for the listings. They just don’t have a choice of who they can use to produce the photographs for the listing. They have ONE supplier, and it’s not cheap. Minimum package is around $750 JUST for photos/floor-plan and video. This has occurred as many real estate agents just looked at cheap options, that lacked acceptable quality in todays standards. B & T understand that to create great listings, you must start with great visual assets. This also requires vendor funding, and this is also a HUGE consideration to your selection. Unless you are prepared to invest, then you are restricting a vital ability to achieve a great result. All parties need some skin in the game to be on a common footing. Don’t focus on fees, look at getting great value for your investment. A few hundred dollars will relate to thousands on the final result.

Here is a couple of basic facts surrounding marketing you may want to discuss with your candidates. An average buyer will spend 43 seconds on a property microsite with photos. Yes 43 secs. What are you going to do to make my property stand out? Did you know that a listing with a video will have more that 5 times this interaction? In FACT over 5 minutes of time on that microsite. Then I wonder why only 4% of agents are using video? Oh and for the record, a slideshow is NOT video. It’s the weakest and most lazy form of marketing. The click away rates on a slideshow are massive. Stats suggest that over 80% of people click away from a slideshow within 15 secs. Stats also suggest, that most buyers will fully watch a TRUE video of 90 secs. Yes I am completely pushing this type of marketing, for two reasons, it’s my business for one, the other is……wait for it….it works. More enquiry, more rich enquiry and more competition. Video is really important to have a stand out listing. If your agent is not comfortable presenting your property on video, then is this the right agent for you? They are not in front of the camera, they are in front of buyers. A video will compliment your photos, it will bolt the flow of the home together, and SHOW not TELL about living in the home. Good video is a science, it has structure and flow and SHOWS the home. Do not ever try to sell the property in the video, show it.

How many real estate agents should I talk to? The old piece of string option…my suggestion, go to open homes in your area AND in your property spec. See how agents interact with you and other visitors, plus it helps with your understanding of the market. Look at what turns you on with a listing presentation, and what turns you off. A great result for the sale of your property will take some effort. You can only make an informed decision if you do the effort. If you don’t do the effort, then hope for good luck!

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Elite agents will market themselves based on quantity of homes they have sold. They have achieved great stats in terms of number of listings, sales etc. But what must be considered, is how much time have they got to put into your listing, and how much over QV or above average pricing are they getting in the market? And why. Invest some time to look at what you see as great marketing in your area. What listings draw your attention when looking at the comparables in your area? Because that is just what you want your potential buyers to do to your listing. Average in, average out. If you are happy with that, then click away now! As I am wasting your time. I will be brutally honest here, the Manawatu market has more than it’s fair share of average real estate agents. It’s littered with average listings, and lazy marketing. The market is strong, houses are selling fast, but this is the exact market that needs a much better offering. They need to work their butts off to get your listing! But my question is, just how much MORE could you get for the listing with BETTER MARKETING? How much more competition for your property could you create by having a great marketing campaign? One that YOU the vendor invests in. Enquiry for property in the Manawatu is not just limited to those in the region. A local database is just another option. You are only interested in one buyer, and they could be anywhere right now. There is significant interest from out of the region, and these buyers are looking for stand out properties. You have to get their attention with great marketing. Great preparation of your property, and great visual assets. These buyers are generally well cashed up if selling out of a city and looking for a simple more valued lifestyle. I personally can speak from experience here, as this is exactly what our family did a year ago.

There are lots of other things to consider, but I urge you to make sure the marketing plan sits at the top of your list. Challenge the real estate agent on what they propose, ask for examples, ask for and look at testimonials as you would if you were employing any staff member. This is really critical to ensure that your real estate agent can walk the talk as well as talk the talk. Don’t get hung up on the perceived “power of size” of the agency. A bigger agency may have more resource, but look at where people are going to research, identify and select buying options. It’s online, and it’s not the agents branded web site. Likewise they will tell you how important and comprehensive their database of buyers is. But in reality, the person looking for a property that meets your specifications will find your listing long before any agent contact! Buyers generally deal with the listing agent in the NZ market. But they find their properties through realestate.co.nz or trademe. Make sure they find yours first!

We are beginning to see a change in thinking to marketing of property. That change is coming from the new breed of real estate agent, that is trying to establish a point of difference, and providing market smart solutions. This will hopefully lift everyones game to ensure that vendor needs are met, and properties are going to market with great campaigns. Don’t be sidetracked or blindsided by a new real estate agent that does not have the historical track record. They will make up for in enthusiasm what they lack in experience! And it just takes the one buyer that identifies with your property. You also can pretty well bet that they found your property online. As 90% of buyers do. Check out the social media presence of your candidates. This is one area of marketing that is moving and shaking.

At the end of the day, the most important issue is meeting your needs as a vendor. There are multiple inputs into this, and you need to be clear with your expectations, and ensure that these are totally respected. There is no right or wrong choice here, there are just better outcomes possible. But do not rush this decision, don’t take to much advice from friends and family, do YOUR homework. Don’t just sell with the agent you bought from, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! It’s critical for you to to achieve the best result. The simple fact is that if you do the ground work well, the result will match. Prepare your home, prepare your expectations and match those to an agent. The right agent and the right marketing will pay dividends with a great sales process. But don’t expect this just to happen. You need to make it happen. Make sure you get the right real estate agent, with the time, the enthusiasm and the skills to ensure your listing gets the best investment possible. Be it big brand 1 with 5000 agents nationwide, or local boutique brand 1 with 5 local agents, it’s all about getting the one buyer.

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