WHAT MAKES A GOOD REAL ESTATE AGENT?
A good agent can make a stressful situation tolerable, even enjoyable.
As a seller and a buyer
Knowing what constitutes a good agent, as both a vendor and purchaser, will assist you in achieving the best outcome for your sale or purchase of real estate in a stress free manner. Make no mistake; the wrong agent can turn a stressful situation into a downright dreadful situation. But a good agent can make a stressful situation tolerable and sometimes even enjoyable.
What constitutes a good agent for a seller may not necessarily mean that they would be a good agent for a buyer and vice versa. For example, if an agent is incapable of achieving a buyer’s highest price for a property, the seller’s loss becomes the buyer’s gain. It is therefore very worthwhile identifying separately, what makes a good agent for a seller and what makes a good agent for a buyer.
From a seller’s point of view
A good agent will always tell you what you need to know and not what you want to hear. Often, this will include the absolute truth about your property and its market value. Whether you do or don’t like what the agent has to say, they possess the courage and fortitude to level with you about the facts.
In some circumstances such as a falling market, the worst thing an agent can do is hold back from telling you the truth. The longer it takes you to move in a falling market the bigger the price drop you need to make in order to catch up to a falling market price.
If you have lots of agents groveling for your business, it can be easy to overlook that ‘matter of fact, plain talking salesperson’ as not being a good agent. Don’t be fooled by slick talking salespeople because buyers often pull back from them. They think that they are being ‘sold’ a property rather than choosing to ‘buy’ it and this puts them off.
Many people mistakenly think that a good salesperson is a good talker. In reality, a good sales person is a good listener and a great negotiator. The very best agents are great communicators as well. Their communication skills are clear and succinct and they are able to empathise with the home owner when selling their most prized asset. They respond to emails and phone messages promptly. They keep the seller informed about what is happening with buyers at all times.
Unsolicited sales calls from people selling products and services you don’t need or want are annoying. Direct marketing is hard work for a salesperson. There is abundant rejection and abuse to deal with, along the path to finding that elusive prospect who responds, ‘it’s funny that you have just called. Yes. I am interested.’ A good real estate salesperson looks past all these difficulties and is not afraid to contact any buyer on their data base who may be interested in buying your house.
The best salespeople don’t wait for business to walk in the front door. They walk out of the door themselves to look for business. A proactive agent who vigorously prospects and follows up on all prospective buyers is more likely to engage the right buyer for your home than an agent who solely relies upon prospects walking in or phoning up from their advertising.
A good agent is your eyes and ears in the market place when you are selling. You rely upon their experience, intelligence, knowledge and enthusiasm to drive your campaign. Sometimes things can go wrong, such as a buyer withdrawing because of an adverse pest and building inspection report. But the best agents are not rattled by such setbacks. They remain calm in the face of adverse situations. If you feel that your agent is losing control of the campaign, you need to take action quickly.
By the same token, if your campaign has experienced some setbacks which are not the fault of your agent, then continue to support them and work together to foster your best interests. The last thing you want to do as a seller is put panic into the mind of an agent. It will only work to a buyer’s advantage.
Finally, the best agents are skilled negotiators and adept at obtaining the best possible price and terms for their clients. As a seller of real estate, it’s imperative that you accept that the best possible price and terms may not always be the price and terms that you want. But so long as your agent delivers you the best possible price and terms that the market currently offers, then they have done the job you engaged them to do well.
From a buyer’s point of view
Both buyers and sellers desire the same things in an agent – constant feedback, professionalism, integrity, honesty and competence. Where buyers and sellers fundamentally differ, is usually on price. Naturally, a seller wants top dollar for their home, but a genuine buyer will want to purchase the house for the lowest possible price that they can.
The kindest thing an agent can do for a buyer is to point out when the buyer is being unreasonable in what they are proposing to offer the vendor. The owners are not going to take a silly offer seriously, so why would you risk damaging any good relationship you may have with the seller by making one? Good agents will let buyers know if the seller is likely to be insulted by a low offer and take a personal mindset against them. However, if you are the only buyer putting in an offer on the property, the seller would be sensible to negotiate with you if they want to sell now.
But, if you are insulting the owner with low offers in a competitive situation, the owners may look upon other fair minded buyers more favourably. This could then impact negatively upon you if and when you raise your offer to more realistic levels later, should you really want to buy the house.
The best agents won’t let you know details relating to how many other buyers there are and what their offers have been. They will negotiate with each respective buyer on their merits, without disclosing the owner’s hand in the negotiation process. This can make it difficult to find out if you are the only buyer for the property.
If you are negotiating the purchase of a good piece of real estate with a long term plan in mind, it will reward you both financially and emotionally if you are successful in buying it. To risk losing the right home in order to try and save $10,000 or even $20,000 through negotiation is just silly. In fact, if the price you are being asked to pay is the fair market price and you can afford it, you should pay that price. A good agent will tell you this, but if you still continue to negotiate the seller down in price then you may miss out on the home.
A good agent should always have a pretty good idea about what the fair market price for a property is. If you are negotiating a sale with someone who is asking an above market price for their property, a good agent will help you negotiate a fair compromise for both parties. An inexperienced or incompetent agent will give up and simply walk away from the negotiation. This then leaves the buyer needlessly looking for another suitable home, whilst the seller is possibly damaging the price of their through over exposure to the market. A good agent will always have the best interests of both the buyer and seller in mind when negotiating the sale of a property, with the focus being on achieving a fair transaction.