8 Questions to ask an agent when selling

8 Questions to ask an agent when selling will make the transaction smooth and fruitful. You need to ask about knowledge, experience, services and fees when interviewing a real estate agent to list your property.

Selling real estate is a high involvement transaction and you need to ensure all the bases are covered so the experience is smooth and fruitful. Shopping around for price, quality and service are what we all do when we need to purchase stuff. Given that selling a home is one of the largest transactions people will undertake in a lifetime why do the vast majority of people contact only one real estate agent?

Here, you’ll learn what questions you need to ask to ensure a successful smooth transaction.




The questions you need answers to:

1. How long have you been in real estate?

2. What evidence do you have of the prices you advertised and then sold for?

3. How much do you think my property is worth?

4. What do you think your brand will do for me?

5. What method of sale will you use to market my property and why?

6. How much do you charge for your commission?

7. Is marketing a separate fee and why?

8. What separates you from other agents?



1. How long have you been in real estate?

The length of time an agent has been in real estate is quite significant because real estate is cyclical. When markets have huge demand, little stock money is cheap and accessible agents are not killing themselves selling property. Indeed, a drover’s dog can sell real estate in those markets.

Lots of people see a booming market and decide to work in real estate because of the income they will earn. However, when markets slow many agents leave real estate because it is much, much harder to thrive is slow markets.

Asking how long an agent has worked in real estate gives you an idea of how well they know the markets. It also shows that they know what is needed to sell in slower markets and that they are truly committed to real estate and not cowboys cashing in on easy earnings. Remember the agent should be prepared for this and know the answers to the top 8 questions to ask an agent when selling.

What evidence do you have of the prices you advertised and then sold for?

One of the biggest complaints sellers have in quieter markets and where demand isn’t as high is agents quoting a high price to get the listing. These agents then give negative feedback from purchasers that the price quoted can’t be reached.

In buoyant markets sellers are advised to go to auction because high demand means buyers will compete to purchase the property. However, markets are not homogenous and booms are not necessarily occurring in every suburb. Suburbs that do not have a rarity factor generally behave differently from the rest of the thriving market and you need proof the agent will perform.

If your suburb is selling everything at auction at higher-than-expected prices then you are in booming suburb. If, however, the property around you is lingering on market, is not selling at auction and is mostly private treaty you need evidence that the price quoted can be achieved.

Ask the agent to provide five comparable properties – if you own a three-bedroom house on a 500sm lot only three-bedroom houses on similar size land are comparable! No units, townhouses or two bed room houses will do. Get the agent to show you the original price quoted (the advertised price when first listed), what the property sold for and the time it took to sell. Whilst you may feel your house is worth more remember you are attached and buyers are not. Having an agent tell you what you want to hear can actually reduce the price you end up with. The longer your house lingers the more the purchasers think they can bargain. Aim to sell within 30 days any longer generally means a much lower price than you want.

Think about it when you read houses in booms are selling within days of listing at record prices it is because of high demand. If you are in a lower demand area you need to create that demand so you need an agent with a strategy. You need evidence that they can create interest and make your property stand out and a high price does not do that because you are not selling to yourself.


3. How much do you think my property is worth?

Again, you have to let go of what you think and focus on what buyers want. Let’s look at the definition of worth. The noun worth means the inherent value of something based on the qualities of excellence, usefulness, or importance.

In real estate this value is determined by purchasers.

You should ask the agent what do purchasers in your area value as excellent, useful and important. You will find that infrastructure and amenities are often more valuable than your house – hence why dumps that are within walking distance to shops, schools, transport, waterways get better prices than beautiful houses in suburban streets that are close to nothing.

The price the agent gives you should reflect how many value points your property has. You need to ask what is valuable in your area – land size, transport etc. You can assess the agent’s calculation of your property’s worth by whether they identified the value points. You will actually know that you are not being flattered initially only to be disappointed during the campaign and with the end price.

4. What do you think your brand will do for me?

Brand succinctly tells the public a story like Nike just do it or BMW German engineering excellence. Brands are an extension of consumers as people like being associated with certain brands. Some brands are huge and some are niche but choosing a brand should reflect your needs.

Real estate in Australia dilutes branding significantly because there are two major platforms used to market property. However, what you value as a seller is now really important.

Do you want your property to be promoted as trendy, sophisticated, earthy, value for money or maybe another more niche target? You need to ask agents who they target as a brand and don’t be fooled by large brands that suggest size is the be all and end all.

Realesate.com and Domain.com platforms have enabled smaller more niche agents to thrive as purchasers want to buy and they don’t care about the brand they want the property but they do sit in different categories. So, the brand is about what values the agency has that you the seller share.

Promoting your house in a way that makes it more desirable using brand standards ‘pushes’ your property to the right target audience. For example, agents that adopt styling as a methodology suggests that their target values presentation, creature comfort and less work to do. Those agents may have dumps as well but their overall brand says our clients value aesthetics and dumps are just ugly ducklings. Conversely this methodology is not valued at all in some areas. 

5. What method of sale will you use to market my property and why?

A lot of people auction and there are great reasons for that.

Auction is usually the method for high demand areas or booming markets. It works well when there is a crowd and several bidders.

Private treaty has merit as well especially in quieter markets or less when there is less demand. If you adopt auction methodology of set times for inspections that creates some demand that is a key for improving the sale price.

Ask your agent what method they would use for your property. Be wary of agents that lean heavily for one methodology when the market does not support it. 

6. How much do you charge for your commission?

This question makes many agents defensive. Nobody likes justifying their worth but their answer gives insight into how they operate.

Real estate agent commissions vary from state to state and city locales to regional addresses. Commission tends to vary between 1.5% and 4% in Australia the lower the volume of sales in an area generally means a high commission and very high prices generally mean lower commissions. 

Ensure the agent lists every service which may or not be included in your contract. This way when comparing you can see the differences. The highest commission does not mean the best and the lowest does not mean the worst.  The old adage you pay for what you get is just that OLD. Marketing affects pricing more than quality, particularly in services. You may need to pay for the agent’s marketing especially when it is slow but be more discerning when it’s booming. 


7. Is marketing a separate fee and why?

Marketing is a stand-alone component of the sale. Ensuring your property is marketed correctly is money well spent. Agents use photographers, stylists and platforms to promote your property and all these external providers charge fees.

Apart from the smaller businesses that help prepare properties for sale Realestate.com and Domain.com are major platforms that agents in Australia are compelled to use. What sellers don’t realize is that these platforms act as a monopoly and they charge very hefty fees. The agent does not have a say in these charges and you should ask the agent to disclose these fees.

Also, you should know that even if you are unsuccessful with one agent and you go to another agent you have to pay those platform marketing fees again – even if you use the same photos – It’s a rout.

8. What separates you from other agents?

The most annoying answer is we are different and offer excellent service. Have you ever had a service provider say we are the same as everyone else and offer rubbish service?

Words are cheap so you need concrete evidence that the agent you choose is a good fit for you, your property and your market.

Ask them about:

  • how they deliver transparent transactions;
  • how they communicate with buyers – both verbal and written;
  • how they demonstrate determination;
  • their negotiation skills;
  • their local knowledge and
  • how they demonstrate attention to detail.

Given you have given these agents the opportunity to visit you may have already assessed that they are: enthusiastic; energetic; tenacious; assertive; organized; hardworking and have great conne

Remember the 8 questions to ask an agent when selling will make the transaction smooth and fruitful.

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