Appointing an estate agent is no different than selecting an attorney to fight in your corner or a doctor to treat a serious illness. You are entrusting someone with the sale of arguably your biggest asset, so it’s critical that the selected professional is proficient in every facet of the transaction to get the job done right and in a timely fashion.
“Many people assume that selling a home is simply a matter of popping a sale board on the lawn and hosting a show house or two, but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Steve Thomas, Secure Estate Specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Constantiaberg.
“Not only does the simplest sale entail months of work from start to finish; it’s a complex process that requires more than a passing knowledge of diverse fields such as marketing, legal processes and finance as well as fluency in legalese.
“Add to this a thorough knowledge of the real estate market in the seller’s area in order to accurately evaluate a property to achieve a realistic sale price in as short a time frame as possible and you begin to get the picture.
“And, because these transactions involve many steps, multiple people and organisations and, very often, a strong emotional quotient, simple sales are rarer than one might think.”
Partner Specialist, Dave Burger, advises: “Ultimately, you are paying for specialised resources and skills when appointing estate agent so, besides being from a recognisable brand, ask what additional value the agent can bring to the table.
“Do your due diligence in seeking out the agent who best fits your needs and don’t be afraid to ask questions to establish their level of experience.
An estate agent's knowledge of the home buying process and the local market is key, so ask questions like the length of time they have been in the industry, recent sales history and about their familiarity with the law pertaining to property transactions.
“Especially important is their knowledge and understanding of the market, especially in your area as this is essential for them to be able to give an accurate property evaluation which is the first, but possibly most critical, step the process.
“It not only determines the final sale price achieved but also the length of time a home spends on the market, which is especially important if the seller is buying another home subject to the sale of his current property.”
Fellow specialist, Brenda Pretorius says: “In our case, being secure estate specialists in a market we understand very well means that we can promote and sell properties effectively for our sellers and also match the best buy for the buyer’s unique needs and budget.
“We are also au fait with the different rules and regulations of each estate and the intricacies of these transactions which are often more complex than other sales.
She adds that it’s important for sellers to bear in mind that the longer properties remain on the market, the less likely they are to sell for full value and that statistically, they are most likely to fetch full value within the first three to six months of being listed.
“Service doesn’t end at good communication skills and social niceties; it should encompass everything necessary to achieving the best possible price for the seller, including effective negotiation skills.
“This demands an understanding of both parties’ wants and needs, remaining flexible with a number of options, foreseeing (counter)offers and using the power of persuasion to encourage clients to respond to offers.
“And ask to see proof of the agent's Fidelity Fund Certificate, issued by the Estate Agency Affairs Board. An agent who holds a Fidelity Fund Certificate, is not only serious about his profession but qualified to deal with most eventualities and operates according to stipulated rules of conduct.”
It’s also important for real estate agents to know which marketing tools and channels yield the biggest return in terms of exposure and conversions.
“Long gone are the days of placing an ad in the local weekend newspapers and popping a board on the front lawn,” says Thomas.
“Today’s digital age affords us many more marketing opportunities than before and allows us to communicate to multiple audiences, across a variety of channels in many cost-effective ways and the agent should be familiar with them all.”
Thomas concludes: “There’s a great difference between the agent who lists a property and waits for the phone to ring and the professional who is qualified, experienced, confident, proactive and genuinely have your best interests at heart.”
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