THE killer question to ask estate agents who want to sell your home

The hardest part of selling your home is choosing an agent. Do not just pick three, that’s a fatal mistake. Talk to as many as you can, until you are certain you’ve got an outstanding agent.

What NOT to ask

Do NOT ask: “How much do you think my home is worth?”

Do NOT ask: “What’s your fee?”

Because these are not the things that matter when choosing an agent. What does it matter what they think your home is worth, or what their fee is if they don’t sell your home for you anyway?

These questions just tell an agent that you have no idea about the process, that you think all agents are the same. They show that you will go with the highest (and most unrealistic) valuation, and that you don’t understand the value of what they do (if they are a good agent).

Those questions are also more likely to lead to a situation where you are sitting on the market with your home unsold for months.

What you’re not looking for

Most (but not all) estate agents have rehearsed a way to get you to believe them and sign up with them. This centres around making you think you’ve got what you want.

These are the agents you need to flush out and ignore and move on to the next.

Your mission isn’t just to find AN agent who might be able to sell your home.

Your mission is to find THE individual agent who will deliver you a better result, sooner, while keeping you informed, allowing you to move on with your life.

The question that will send bad agents running for the door.

You need to show the agent:

  • You know basically how the market works
  • You know that valuations are pure guesswork, even if they’re educated guesses
  • You know that non-qualified agents aren’t allowed to give ‘valuations’ anyway
  • You know that all agents are not the same
  • You know that really good agents are very rare
  • You’re not prepared to settle for anything less than the very bet agent for you, your property and your circumstances
  • Under no circumstances will you be signing up with an agent who wants to lock you in to a long term, sole agency agreement

Here’s what you need to say, but in your own words:

“We understand that the only way to be absolutely sure we have achieved whatever the best price available in this market is by getting multiple competing, proceedable, funded buyers bidding against each other for our home.

We also know, just by looking online, that most agents are just listing their clients properties on all the websites and waiting months for enquiries, which won’t work for us.

What we have learned (by listening to Moving Home with Charlie videos 😉 is that the few very best agents have a particular strategy that other agents don’t, which results in discovering what the best offer we can expect is within a few weeks.

So our question is this: What exactly will you do, that other agents don’t, that will ensure we get competing, funded buyers making offers on our home, within a few weeks?

We’re prepared to pay a proper fee for an agent that really knows what they are doing and can deliver us the result we need so we can get on with our move.”

Answers you cannot accept and must dismiss (because all agents will do these anyway, or should!)

  1. We’ll put it on our website
  2. We’ll put it on all the big property websites
  3. We’ll email it out to our database
  4. We’ll send it out to our whole office network
  5. We’ll call all our registered buyers

Answers you ARE looking for:

If the agents say any (or preferably all) of the following, this is a good sign.

  1. Before we launch it publicly, I’ll call a few particular, proceedable buyers I have in mind who I think would be most interested in your home. I’ll see what their reaction is, see if we can get it sold with a few phone calls. If not, we’ll at least get feedback that might guide us on price expectations from buyers in this market.
  2. If we don’t get an acceptable offer that way, we’ll need to prepare the marketing to make absolutely sure your home looks more attractive than any of the homes you’ll be competing against. In particular, I’ll be looking to really highlight the unusual features that set your home apart from the others, such as…….
  3. The way to price your home, once we’ve made it look better than the other similar homes on the market, is to set the asking price at or below the homes that are actually selling. This will make it look like excellent value and get more enquiries, viewings and offers. The higher the asking price, the lower the number of enquiries, and the harder it is to get competing bids.

One more crucial thing: Sole Agency Contracts

Some agents will try to lock you in to as long as 6 months ‘sole agency’ meaning you cannot change agents within that time without having to pay fees twice.

It’s critical you don’t make this mistake, for lots of reasons.

So what’s a reasonable length?

Some agents, especially smaller, owner-managed agents, will often say “if you’re not happy and you want to leave, you’re free to go at any time with no penalty.” This is a strong display of confidence and a very good sign.

Some will say “you can leave when you want, but you’ll need to cover my out of pocket marketing expenses” (eg professional photography or floor plans etc). This is not unreasonable.

Some will say “how about 12 weeks?” I’d still say that’s too long.

If an agent I liked and wanted to work with said “I’d like a minimum of 4 weeks, with a rolling 2 week notice period after that if you’re not happy and you’d like to leave, but that won’t happen.” then I’d be ok with that if all else seemed good.

Gimmicks to ignore (guff to disregard) include:

  • “We use this clever tech with lots of data” – Any agent can buy any data product, it doesn’t make them any more or less likely to sell your home.
  • Any powerpoint presentation. The best agents don’t need prompts or sales aids. Disregard. See how comfortable they are answering difficult questions without prompts.
  • “We do 360 snazzy walk throughs”. Nice to have, sure, but not a deciding factor. Disregard.
  • “We’re on 73 websites!” This means nothing. If your home is overpriced or under-presented, it won’t sell. There are hundreds of thousands of unsold homes on all the websites. Disregard.
  • “We’re part of a huge network”. Again, with the exception of unusual properties that may appeal to a specific international audience, this is irrelevant and makes no difference to the likelihood of selling your home.
  • “We’re on all the portals” – nice to have, but by no means a deal-breaker. Not a deciding factor.

Extra, important questions to ask:

  • What is your sales-progression process like? Do you do it yourself? Who will be responsible for chasing the deal along?
  • (This is a really tough question, but very revealing!): “If you weren’t an agent, and this was your home, which agent would you choose to sell it?”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *