How to pick a great estate agent

Although sales activity in the property market has picked up recently, it is still at much lower levels than before the recession, making it all the more important for home sellers to pick a great estate agent to help them get their property sold.
“And price should definitely not be the deciding factor,” says Harcourts Africa CEO Richard Gray. “Now more than ever, homeowners should be looking for agents with passion, commitment and proven ability – not just those who give them the highest estimated selling price.”
Most people that have never sold a home before think it’s a simple task, but an agent who does not tackle it with energy and know-how can cost the homeowner much more than a few week’s delay, he says.
“There is a great risk of losing potential buyers if the property is not immediately advertised widely and well, and the longer the property is listed without being sold, the higher the holding costs for the seller and the less likely it is to realise its market value.
“In addition, sellers could easily miss out on the opportunity to buy their next house at the best price.”
Consequently, says Gray, owners should not shy away from asking some searching questions before awarding their mandate to any agent. “They should ask, for example, whether the agent works full-time or part-time, because it stands to reason that full-time agents that depend on making sales for their livelihood will work harder to get the property sold.
“They should also ask what qualifications the agent has and for proof of these and of registration with the Estate Agency Affairs Board. Agents who are not currently registered with the board are operating illegally, and by the end of this year, it will be compulsory for agents who entered the industry after July 2008 to have a proper NQF level 4 or 5 qualification.
“Third, they should ask for references from some of the agent’s recent clients and call them. This is the best way to check on an agent’s performance and track record.”
And finally, he says, sellers should ask if the agent has a specific marketing and advertising plan and is willing to commit to this in writing. “Such an undertaking shows that the agent is not there just to secure a mandate but has a real intention to provide a professional level of service.”

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