Buying or selling a home is a big deal; it’s often one of the most significant transactions you’ll make, and you shouldn’t tackle it alone. The real estate industry can be complex and awash with intricacies – so having the right agent in your corner to support you can make all the difference. But how do you find the right one when they’re all waving you their way? It’s a combination of doing your research upfront, understanding the benefits of choosing a local agent, and asking the right questions once you’ve narrowed it down. Add a little bit of intuition to the equation, and you’re well on your way. Here, we guide you through the process.
- Canvas the crowds, consult your computer
Like most things in life, researching and shortlisting is your best friend, and we recommend getting started with this as close to home as possible. Here’s what to consider when researching:
- Recommendations – canvas all your local connections for referrals or recommendations – you’ll be surprised at what you uncover.
- Relevant experience – overall industry experience is important, and so is specialisation – for instance, are you buying/selling residential, commercial, an investment or a luxury home?
- Testimonials and credentials – check any online reviews or testimonials, and ensure the agent has the necessary licensing and credentials to operate in your area.
- Look to local
From knowledge of location-specific market trends to well-established networks, connections, and insight, there are plenty of reasons why choosing a local agent who lives in your neighbourhood is advantageous. You’ll benefit from:
- Greater market insights – with an in-depth knowledge of the local market, you’ll have essential information like recent sales, current inventory, and neighbourhood trends at your fingertips.
- Valuable connections – established agents can come with a broad network of complementary connections you can leverage. This includes professionals such as mortgage brokers, surveyors, and property lawyers.
- Established network – a good local agent will be well-connected within the community. This means they may have access to homes or buyers that aren’t currently active but are soon to be or able to be influenced.
- Ask the right questions
When meeting with your shortlisted group of potential local agents, asking the right questions upfront can make the process smooth, transparent, and stress-free. It’ll also help with setting clear expectations from the outset. Arm yourself with these crucial questions:
- Tech, tools and targeting – find out what valuable digital tools, like Your Patch and offline platforms they use for marketing and communication. Ask for a detailed run-down on their marketing and advertising plans – presenting a property at its best can make a huge difference to the end result.
- Results, results, results – request information about their track record, including successful negotiation outcomes, average time listings are on the market and the number of properties they’ve sold.
- Costs and contracts – fee structures and contract clauses vary between agencies, so get clear on the ins and outs. Make sure you fully understand all the details, and if in doubt, consult your property lawyer.
- Team? Solo? Availability? – ask whether the agent works as part of a team (and how this structure works) or if they will be your sole point of contact. Ensure you understand how accessible they will (or won’t) be.
- Up-to-date knowledge – the real estate industry moves at a fast pace, so it’s essential to partner with an agent that keeps up to date with local, industry and regulatory changes. This includes foresight into up-and-coming local developments, REIA updates, and relevant state policies.
- Talk details – if you’re selling, discuss the methods of sale they recommend, how they conduct open homes, their availability for viewings outside of these, and their negotiation strategies. Ensure that their strategies align with your goals and expectations.
- Get it all on the table – no one likes conflict, and while taking all possible steps to avoid it should be a priority, it’s important to discuss how the agent approaches conflict resolution. It’s also the perfect time to discuss any contract terms and conditions.
- Don’t dismiss your intuition
Now that you’ve got the crucial questions and research out of the way, you’ve likely narrowed it down to a couple of agents that tick all the boxes. But when you’re talking about one of the biggest transactions of your life, it pays to run it by your intuition. While for us logical folk, that might sound a bit airy fairy, the origin of those ‘gut feelings’ is usually our very analytical brain. Think about:
- First impressions – while real estate agents have a busy job, if they bustle into the room stressed out and 10 minutes late, this could set the tone for the experience ahead. An agent who can remain calm, cool, and collected under pressure is a real asset.
- Choosing communication styles that align – pay attention to the agent’s communication style. You want someone responsive, who listens to your needs, makes you feel comfortable, whom you can trust, and communicates effectively.
- Presence of red flags – are they hesitant to provide references? Have they promised information that they haven’t supplied? Take note of any early warning signs that may lead to a lack of transparency.
- Quality of their follow-up (or lack thereof) – did they follow up on your meeting promptly and effectively or leave you hanging? If all you hear is crickets, you probably haven’t found your perfect agent match.
- Viewing them in action – head along (or send a friend) to an open home the agent is hosting. This will give you a feel for how they engage with potential buyers and present a home.
Buying or selling a home is a partnership – and it’s one that extends beyond the transaction
Finding an agent that aligns with your objective, goals, and personal values isn’t necessarily a quick process, but it’s one that’s worth investing in. It’ll save you from headaches further down the track, and often, once you’ve found the right local real estate agent, they’ll become a trusted advisor that you continue to partner with throughout your home ownership journey.\
Don’t underestimate the value of choosing a local agent, too. Partnering with someone who lives and works in the area will provide you with crucial insight into the local community, local property market and real immediate prospects that simply can’t be found browsing online. And when it comes to the crunch, having someone who is available and just around the corner means your local agent will always be in the right place at the right time!
First National Real Estate is a team of qualified and committed agents based out of over 300 owner-operated offices throughout Australia and New Zealand. It’s a team that shares the same values, that lives in your neighbourhood, and that is committed to delivering local service backed by the power of the First National Real Estate brand. Find your local agent now.