What sorts of questions should retirees ask when choosing an agent to sell their home?
Selling your property can be a big decision and for retirees in particular, the outcomes of the sale can impact significantly on the next stage of life – dictating ongoing financial security, subsequent property purchases and more. So, it’s really important to find an agent who can not only help you to sell, but who’ll have a complex understanding and compassion around what your needs are. Too many retirees are subjected to disrespectful, dismissive behaviours from a range of professionals, so be sure you know your goals going in and stand your ground when required.
When choosing an agent to sell your property, there are plenty of questions you can ask, but we have compiled a few guide topics that will help you to comprehensively interview your prospective agent and find the best possible person to help you to achieve your property goals.
Who, where, what, and why
In any first-time meeting with someone new there is inevitable ice breaking chit chat, which not only eases people into conversations, it also offers key information about the agent you might be working with. Questions about where they’re from, where they live, where they grew up, how long they’ve been in the game, whether they’re single, married or in a relationship, parenting, or empty nesting, and so on, all provide key details for you about who you might be dealing with. A cocky 20 something, new to the game who’s motivated and hungry will suit some yet turn others right off, while someone a little older and more experienced may offer a more thoughtful approach and a deeper sense of security – especially if they understand what’s on the line when it comes to family and financial security. The exchange works both ways too – they might ask personal questions of you as well. The answers are useful for everyone involved as they give clear detail on who you all are, what you each want out of the relationship and how compatible you think you might be to work on the sale of your property together.
What’s their cred in the local area?
Ideally, you’ve chosen an agent who has some experience in your particular location. If you’ve lived there a long time and your prospective agents claims to be well established in your neighbourhood and surrounds, then chances are you’ll have some common ground to explore. You should know some people in common, have kids or grandkids that went to the same schools, or maybe share a favourite local barista or pizzeria. These kinds of details give insight into how well they know the local market and exactly what they can offer in terms of insider knowledge. The personal insights mean they might have a foot in the door for new buyers to the market, or opportunities that may not have become public yet. In addition, though, they should be able to offer some real time insights about what’s been happening locally with regard to property listings, rentals and urban developments and future projects. Knowing all of this means they will help you price your property well and offer conviction to not accept offers below the true worth of the property, in that area at that point in time.
Show me the money
A good way to narrow down your choices when it comes to agents is to start talking deals with them. In Australia agents determine their own fees based on a common understanding of a reasonable rate. Generally, their fees are between 2-3% of the final sale price plus GST. Vendors can negotiate commissions and bonuses at their discretion and an agent’s performance will often reflect exactly the value you have placed on them in the early negotiating stages. Talk to them about their commission, and get their input into what kind of incentives or bonuses might be of interest and, most importantly, what specific services are included in their fee (for example marketing expenses, property staging, utility connections services etc). This conversation will give you a sense of their values and hopefully arouse your instincts as to how they will manage the sale of your property. The other numbers worth discussing are their sales results. A successful agent will gladly discuss figures of their recent sales activities and offer numbers on things like number of people though open houses, number of interested buyers currently around and so on. Some may even offer testimonials from their clients and contact numbers for references which can be particularly insightful.
There’s safety in numbers
It’s all well and good to choose an agent based on their merit, however you might not know initially just how much work they are currently carrying. Asking if they work independently or have close engagement with the office team will tell you what back-ups you have if you can’t reach the agent on the phone, or if they fall ill or have an emergency. Many real estate offices have close knit teams, who work with sophisticated software and communication tools that can provide you with up to date information as soon as you need it. This kind of supportive environment means you will get the very best if your agent and their team and be able to receive high level service even when they are tied up with other clients. Having a few people on board also decreases the chance of mistakes being made and things being missed or overlooked. Property sales can be quite complex and if an agent has a few going on all at the same time, having a savvy assistant or details person back in the office is imperative. This team focused approach also shows that your agent is realistic about the process and with the ability to share the workload, can approach your needs with more diligence and patience – a quality that is highly appreciated by seniors in particular.
Finally, as well as the questions you will ask them, pay attention to the questions they ask of you and how they respond to your answers. Do you get the sense they respect your position and your goals? Selling property can be highly emotional – especially if it’s the home you raised a family in – so an agent that takes this into consideration and respects there will be an emotional component of the sale for you is worth their weight in gold. Remember – do your research, ask the questions, listen and reflect on the answers and trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking and find someone else!
The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.