My Top Tips for Selecting a Real Estate Agent

Tony Buckwell
February 16, 2017

With so many agents available in any given area, how should you select one? Are there attributes that make one agent better than the others? Could the agent you select have an affect the price you achieve for your home?

For the answers to these questions, and my top tips on things to consider before selecting a sales professional to work with, please read on….

The agent you select is a critically important decision that can affect the entire sales experience (and outcome). I can see how, from the outside looking in, all agents must appear to do pretty much the same things, and offer the same service. In reality, there are some very significant differences between the way we work, and the service we offer. But how can you assess those points of difference?

Company backing:

Firstly, and very importantly, what company does he/she work for? Once again, I accept that most people must think all agencies are fundamentally the same. In actual fact, there are such significant differences in the way Barfoot & Thompson works for you, when compared to a franchised company or small boutique operator, it is essential you get this information first.

Open home research (secret shopper):

In the months leading up to your listing date, why not visit some local open homes being hosted by various agents and get a first-hand impression? How professional/ welcoming/ helpful were they? How well did you feel they represented their client (the home owner)?

Speak to past clients:

An agent should be able to provide you with the contact information for a list of past clients happy to speak to you about their experience. For me, referral/personal endorsement is almost top of my list when seeking the services of any professional.

On-line research:

Company profile information, social media business profiles or a website, such as the one you are on now, can all provide a wealth of back ground info. It is amazing in our modern society how a simple Google search can produce a selection of valuable information sources.

Meet the agents you are considering (the interview):

Request a meeting with the agent/agents that seem to be demonstrating the qualities you are looking for. Even before you are ready to sell, why not request a face to face meeting and have a chat about the potential for working together in the future? Ask them what it is that they offer that should compel you choose them over the competition? There is no obligation to commit, and this may give you the first-hand information you need to provide the confidence to take the next step.

Complete a quick back-ground check:

All real estate salespeople in New Zealand must be licensed with the Real Estate Agents Authority. The REAA is an independent government regulatory body for the real estate industry in New Zealand. Its job is to promote a high standard of service and professionalism in the real estate industry and help protect buyers and sellers. The REAA provides you with a significant level of protection as a buyer or seller. You can search for any salesperson, and check their disciplinary record at

Things to Look Out For:

It’s just as important to know what not to have in a real estate salesperson, so be wary of those who:

  • Over-flatter you, or otherwise seem insincere.
  • Seem to tell you things you want to hear, especially about how much they think your home will sell for.
  • Are quick to drop their commission rate. If they can’t even negotiate their commission rate with you, what are they going to be like when they are negotiating with a buyer to achieve a premium price for your home?
  • Try to “buy your listing” by offering to pay for everything. Although this may seem tempting at first, it does create a definite conflict of interest. Do you want an agent that is motivated to secure just ‘any deal’ to recoup their costs, or an agent who is committed to a premium result for you due to their professional impartiality?
  • Have a disciplinary record with the REAA.

Great Questions to Ask:

Here are two questions that should be asked by a home owner, but seldom are:

  • Why should I list my property with you?
  • What makes you so different from everyone else?

Many salespeople give vague responses that show no direct benefit to the homeowner, such as:

  • I am a very good salesperson (too vague).
  • I am experienced (too vague).
  • I have been selling houses for over 30 years (no direct benefit).
  • I provide great customer service (too vague).
  • I can give you a free appraisal (not unique).
  • I am passionate about selling houses (not unique; no direct benefit).
  • I listen to my clients (too vague; not unique).

A real estate salesperson should be able to provide you with specific points of difference that are unique and which provide a real benefit to you. For example, they might specialise in a particular area of real estate (e.g. apartments, rental properties).

What are your thoughts?

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