In today’s highly competitive market, choosing the right real estate professional is probably the most important step in selling your biggest asset, advises Nick Pearson, CEO of Tyson Properties.
When the group opened its doors with six real estate agents in 2005, it was committed to recruiting top real estate talent as the business grew to 400 agents that are active in 19 offices countrywide.
“From the outset, we knew that if we attracted the right people, everything else would follow. Although the environment within which we work has changed considerably, requiring our agents to add a whole new skills set to their offerings, the fundamentals remain the same. Our agents might now need to be social media gurus and extremely active within their own communities, but they also still need to be ethical, professional and, most importantly, put clients first,” says Pearson.
Francois du Toit, a Tyson Properties’ Johannesburg director, believes that, while it’s important for agents to be tech wizards and use the very best and latest technology to market properties, connecting with a client one-on-one, displaying empathy and building a relationship that will last well into the future is equally important.
How to choose the right real estate agent
Here are du Toit’s five top tips for choosing the right agent:
1. Look for a connection
Your ideal agent should be one with which you can build a good rapport, who makes you feel at ease and who you can trust to understand your specific circumstances. “This happens when an agent actively listens to your needs, demonstrates their understanding and gives you all the information you need to feel comfortable. Your agent should make you part of the process and work with you, providing continuous feedback (even if only that there is no feedback yet) and always being completely transparent,” he says.
2. Find an area specialist
Your agent should have all relevant information at his or her fingertips, providing a good overview of the current real estate market over the past three to five years as well as the trends in your particular neighbourhood. Your agent should know the average price range of clusters and freestanding homes over the past 6-12 months and demonstrate how these compare with nearby suburbs.
3. Suss out the strategy
“An effective agent manages expectations by sharing their strategy – how they work and why they succeed. An overview of how they intend to market your property is key to you being confident in their ability in finding you that perfect buyer! This starts with determining the exact right price with which to go to market and then outlining the quality marketing tools that will be used to maximise exposure,” du Toit advises.
4. Do the numbers
Sellers are often reluctant to discuss numbers at the outset – but it is important to know your exact costs when it comes to both agents’ fees and transfer costs. “There are roughly 26 steps to legally selling and transferring your home. These have a direct impact on the agent’s commission. The agent that explains this whole process immediately creates credibility. Bear in mind that you get what you pay for. The 3 percent agent will most probably not give you the full service, but quickly move on to the next transaction to make up for the low commission rate. Don’t see the fee charged by a real estate professional as a grudge purchase. Look for a reputable company that has a strong representation in your area,” du Toit points out.
5. Negotiate the mandate
Discuss your mandate upfront, du Toit recommends. “Some agents will only take on a sole mandate or a dual mandate to ensure they can focus on your property. This is directly linked to the amount of marketing and effort that they will invest in your property. You should consider using one agent or a dual mandate. Often, when you have multiple agents working on a property, you’re placed on the back burner by all. This means that nobody is losing sleep over your transaction.”
Pearson adds that, by the time a real estate professional leaves your home after their initial valuation, they should have had a formal discussion with you about all the important factors around the sale of your home – without you having to ask.
This discussion should include the importance of pricing your home realistically in today’s challenging market and even advice on making repairs in order to attract buyers and what is needed to show your home.
Du Toit has the last word: “Don’t trust the agent that wants to sweet-sell and who underplays the brutal facts or who sugar-coats every potential problem. Better to put all the cards on the table beforehand so that any risks can be managed effectively. For example, disclosing the damp in your garden wall is not only a legal requirement, but would be much better in the long run than having to fix it a few months down the line. Buyers are more likely to make an offer on a home where they know about all the sweet and not-so-sweet spots!”