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How to choose a real estate agent to help sell your home

Canstar Blue research shows the majority of Kiwis are happy with their real estate agent. But for those who want a change or don’t know where to start when looking for a real estate agent, here are some tips to steer you in the right direction.

You can choose to sell your home privately, saving you the cost of a real estate agent – however, sellers generally go through a real estate agent to conduct the sale. Essentially, real estate agents are paid a commission or fee by you – as the seller – to use their professional experiences and skills to sell your house. The right real estate agent can help you sell your home quickly and efficiently; however the wrong agent could botch the transaction. This is why it’s important to put effort into choosing the right real estate agent.

Keep in mind the difference between a buyer’s agent and a real estate agent, who works on behalf of the seller. A buyer’s agent is useful for people who are only just entering the complex world of the housing market – especially first home buyers – are new to a city, or don’t have the time to spend house hunting. They will work on behalf of a buyer and may support them in their negotiations. Whereas a real estate agent – also known as the seller’s agent – is hired to sell the house for the current homeowner.

So, how do you find and choose a good real estate agent?

Looking for a real estate agent

Many agents have multiple specialities – such as specific housing types and particular suburbs – so don’t be afraid to ask agents what their sweet spot is. You need someone who specialises in the type of house you’re selling; an inefficient real estate agent can mean a huge difference in the amount your house sells for.

Make sure you choose a real estate agent who is working full-time. You need someone who is always readily available to liaise with potential buyers and show them around your home. Communication is key. According to Canstar’s latest research into real estate customer satisfaction, communication and advice account for 49% of overall customer satisfaction.

Ask for recommendations

The same research also revealed that when choosing a real estate agent, their personal references, reputation and local knowledge are also very important, with 40% of respondents citing each as a major factor in their decision-making process.

Take a look at the for-sale signs around your neighbourhood for an insight in your major local agents, and ask neighbours and relatives for recommendations. It’s important to employ somebody you can trust. The sales process can sometimes stretch to three or four months, so you need to pick somebody with whom you can forge a trusting relationship.


Avoid your relatives

If you’ve an agent in your extended family, try to avoid choosing them. We know it seems like it could make things easier, but real estate sales are fraught with tension and many things can and do go wrong. You don’t need that kind of frustration and resentment creeping into your family ties.

Ask questions

Interview three or four agents before picking one and don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Here are some things you could ask:

  • Are you a member of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ)? What code of ethics do you comply with?
  • How long have you been buying and selling in this area? (You don’t want someone who is learning on the job with you.)
  • How many listings do you have currently? (Look for balance: enough homes to show they’re trusted and credible, but not so many that they’ll be too stretched to dedicated adequate time to your sale.)
  • How many homes have you sold in the area? Can you please give me a list of properties sold in the past six months, listing the asking price and the sales price for each property? (They need to know what prices are realistic.)
  • How often – and how – will you communicate with me? (This needs to suit your time frame for open homes and moving out.)
  • Can you provide references or testimonials from recent clients?
  • How much will it cost me? (Look for the agent’s commission and ask about any other fees.)

Check the Real Estate Authority for complaints

 The Real Estate Authority (REA) is the regulator for the real estate sector and it has a great website, settled.govt.nzwhich will help you learn about the property transaction process. While they’re the authority that licenses real estate agents, the REA also has a public register, making it easier for you to sift out the good real estate agents from the not so good. You can use the public register to find out if a particular real estate agent has had any complaints upheld against them over the past three years.

Picking a winner

After you’ve done your research, it’s time to pick a winner and we’re here to help you. If you want a tried-and-trusted real estate agency, you can view the results for Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers Award – Real Estate Agents here. Good luck with the sale!

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