Regardless of whether you are buying and selling homes in the Eastern Bays (Glendowie, St Heliers, Kohimarama, Mission Bay, Orakei) or Remuera, you will have to deal with real estate agents inevitably.
And just like in any other profession or industry, there are brilliant real estate agents … there are good ones and there are, unfortunately, subpar real estate agents too.
Now, buying or selling a home is likely going to be the most expensive transaction you ever made (psst: did you hear about the hedge fund billionaire that bought a US$238 Million Penthouse in New York?). (And yes, I get that some of you guys like Graeme Hart who lives on Riddell Road, Glendowie are high-rollers.)
But back to real estate: so how do you know if you’ve got a star or a dud handling your real estate transaction?
One way to know whether you’ve got a good agent (or not) is to first consider some of the tasks and activities that a really good agent will manage for a client. Then apply what you’ve learned to your own agent who is dealing with you. Be objective – that real estate agent may be your good friend or neighbour whom you have said hello for 10 years. But that just does not make that agent a great agent for you. You wouldn’t choose a doctor to carry out surgery for you simply because he/she’s your friend right?
If you don’t have time to track down all of the things that a good agent should be doing for a buyer or a seller, then you’re in luck. I’ve compiled a list so you don’t have to.
It’s dangerous to make assumptions at the best of times, but when it comes to shopping for a home, assumptions are downright dangerous. So if you have an agent who assumes everything … be very wary.
A good agent should ask you questions — lots of them — about what you are looking for. Here are some examples:
So if your agent isn’t trying to figure out what would make you happy by asking lots of questions about your homeownership needs and wants, that’s a red flag.
If you don’t already have a mortgage broker to help you with your loan, then your real estate agent should be providing referrals for someone trustworthy. Mortgage brokers are free as they are paid by the banks.
Many people think that mortgage brokers would be the ones taking up the commission and giving them a higher mortgage interest rate. But the reality is that banks give mortgage brokers much better rates than what they give to the layman. Unless you work in the mortgage department and are dealing with mortgage rates on a daily basis, you will never be able to keep up with the best deals out there. So you need to speak to a mortgage broker!
And like real estate agents, not all mortgage brokers are created equal. Some are simply better and more communicative than the rest. A good one should take the time to understand your needs, and responsive.
Unless you’ve lived in a neighbourhood your entire life — and even then! — there will still be things to learn about the place where you’re buying your home. You absolutely do not want to live in
A good real estate agent should be able to answer your questions and explain how each neighbourhood compares against the others.
You’ll probably have questions about everything from where to buy groceries to where to walk your dog to what people do for fun on weekends, to what school zones are available and perhaps the most important question of all: which suburb is currently popular with buyers and why?
Your real estate agent should help answer those questions. And if you are selling – they should make sure that such features are perfectly captured and presented. Your potential buyers needs to feel the same love.
Some agents love to push for auctions as the preferred method of sale. While that can be the most successful method in the past years and with competition can generate the best price, the fact is that not all properties are suitable for auctions. And in this market, auctions may not be the best way forward.
Your agent needs to have a frank discussion with you regarding which method of sale is the most appropriate for your house. If you are still unsure between a deadline sale and an auction, then this article will definitely help you.
As mentioned in previous articles, in this market where lending is tight, properties that have unconsented alterations or that are essentially land sales are not suitable for auctions because buyers need time to do their due diligence.
For sellers, this is one of the most critical jobs that your agent will complete — and if they don’t do a good job, you could lose tens of thousands of dollars. Pricing the home correctly right out the gate is absolutely vital to selling the home quickly and for fair-market value.
When pitching for the listing, some agents will inflate the possible sales price and tell sellers that they can always reduce the price if they don’t get an offer.
Although this is certainly true, those agents are misrepresenting a bigger truth: your listing is going to get the most attention from qualified buyers within the first 48 hours of hitting the market. (Hint: I’ve a strategy to extend this ‘initial exposure period’.)
Price reductions after the home is listed are never going to attract nearly as many eyeballs as new homes on the market — and you may need to reduce the price well below fair-market value to generate buyer interest if you start off too high. By that time, it may be too late to rescue the sinking ship. Don’t be in that position.
This is applicable even for properties that do not have a price on it as the price range set by your agent on TradeMe / Realestate.co.nz is extremely crucial in determining the kind of buyers you will be attracting.
So it’s not typically wise to go with the agent who offers the highest sales price; instead, ask prospective agents how they calculated that sales price and ask for the market comparables so you can determine for yourself if the house is really worth that much.
And put things bluntly – that price range should not reflect your ‘wishes’ if it’s simply out of the current valuation. When you buy a property, would you really care what the current owner previously paid for it? Or would you care that it is fairly valued today? The same logic applies to you when you are selling your home. And hence if you want that premium price, you need to market the home well and generate buyers’ competition. Which brings me to my next point….
One reason why sellers hire a real estate agent in the first place is because the agent has a marketing platform or multiple marketing platforms to use to advertise the home for sale.
Some homes require more marketing than others, but agents should have a really solid, modern plan to market every home they list.
And marketing goes far, far beyond “put it on Trademe, realestate.co.nz, print it on Property Press — then pray you get a qualified buyer.” It’s not even just sticking it onto Facebook. There are way more sophisticated strategies involved – big companies like Apple and BMW utilise them so here’s your chance to use them when you list and sell with me.
In other words, with today’s digital era, you need a modern marketing strategy that will make your house stand out among the competition. Ask your agent – how is your strategy different from the rest?
Congratulations. You’ve now gotten an offer! But often, the first offer you receive is unlikely to be the offer that is acceptable to you. Therefore, it is your real estate agent’s job to negotiate the offer with the buyer on not just price, but also terms and conditions so as to bring you an offer that is to your satisfaction. Your agent should be very familiar with the market, and argue persuasively why your property is worth more.
It’s also his/her job to deal with issues that often crop up – for e.g. unconsented works, insurance questions etc – in a transaction. A bad (or lazy) one will just tell you to deal with it on your own or look for a professional to handle it. (Why do you even work with such agents?)
The same works when you are trying to buy a house – work with a selling agent. A good real estate agent will advise you of the different terms and conditions you can insert into a clause and inform you the pros and cons of adding them so as to make your offer attractive to the vendor without exposing you to too much risk. They will even tell you to walk away if the house is simply not suitable.
As the closing approaches, there’s a lot to do for both buyers and sellers who are getting ready to exchange ownership of a home.
Both buyers and sellers need to pack and arrange for at least a truck to move their things.
Sellers are also going to have to clean — the oven, the bathrooms, the works — before they hand over the keys, and ensure that any trash is hauled away.
Utilities need to be disconnected (or connected). Mail needs to be redirected.
Goodbyes need to be said to neighbours.
And your real estate agent should be sharing resources to help with some or all of these activities. And keep your sanity in check.
Buying a home is a process fraught with anxiety, feelings of missing out, and even sadness surrounding a big change. Sellers especially might be caught off-guard by how they feel about leaving a house when the time comes to pack everything up.
Good real estate agents understand that emotions are part of the package and will both warn you that you might be feeling a little blue about everything, and be there to help you get your bearings and power through.
When all is said and done and you’ve got most of your possessions transferred from one home to the next, then the agent’s work is mostly done — right?
Well, maybe some agents, but a superior agent knows that your life is still in upheaval and will check in to make sure everything went smoothly with the move. Did you forget anything at your old place? Do you need help arranging for cleaning and getting settled in? What about arranging for utilities or have any good moving-in deals? I’ve helped my vendors arrange for installation of security cameras, setting up internet connections and much more.
A good agent will ask you these questions and help solve any problems that emerged as a result of changing your address.