Want the best real estate agent for your property journey? Here's how to find one
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*This article first appeared in our Property360 digimag
Getting a foot on the property ladder is not just about deciding to buy a home, and choosing to sell a home is not just about finding a buyer.
Entering the market – as buyer, seller or tenant – can be the start of a long journey with many twists and turns.
Most people know the roles of estate agencies and real estate professionals are integral aspects of the process, but they do not always know how to select the right agency or agent to assist, nor what sets one agent or agency apart from another?
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Choosing the right agency
Craig Mott, Western Cape regional sales and commercial manager for the Rawson Property Group, says one should consider a brand’s prominence in an area.
“The agent’s marketing and branding needs to be prominent. This shows that the agent is active and performing well. Another thing to look out for is the volume of sold stickers on for sale boards.”
A brand should also be active online.
“View agency websites and social media pages if they have any. Pay attention to their listings – either on the agency website or the various property portals. Note how they have described the property, look at the quality of images and check if they provide virtual tours.” Mott adds: “Nothing beats the old-school word-of-mouth referral.”
A agency or agent should have invested in technology, so they can offer virtual show houses and meetings.
“Ideally it should be a ‘one-stop property shop’. So for buyers, services like an in-house bond origination service will be convenient and assist with speeding up the buying process. Conveyancing attorneys will assist with the transfer of the property.
“For landlords things like an in-house accounting team who can manage the collection of the monthly rent and manage all account payments on your behalf, providing consistent and comprehensive financial reporting.”
One should also ask friends or acquaintances who have recently sold properties in the area for references, advises Nikki Elliott of Country & Coastal Properties. Alternatively, do some homework and read the “about us” sections of agencies on their websites.
“Once interested in an agency, ask them for references from previous clients and/or ask for the phone numbers of previous sellers and speak to them personally. Meet the principal, or phone them (preferably more than one) to get an idea of their competence, their willingness to assist, and whether you feel comfortable with the person you speak to. Find out what marketing they will do for you.”
Choosing the right agent
While Elliott cannot speak on behalf of larger agencies as she works on her own, she says that, once a seller has selected an agency, the first step in choosing an agent is by asking for a copy of their latest/valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC).
“Also find out if the chosen agent is fully qualified. If it is an intern, ask to speak to the agency principal, if you haven’t done so before, to determine how involved the principal will be in the sale.”
Mott says as a seller or a landlord, you will be working closely with your agent so finding a good personality fit is just as important as establishing the right professional credentials. Once you know they have a valid FFC, the choice then comes down to how prominent the agent is in the area.
“Look out for their sold stickers/signs. Check online property portals to view agent’s listings. If the agent has a good number of listings this could mean that they have an even bigger database of buyers.”
A seller should request at least two or three valuations from various agents and then check the quality of service you get from each individual, and how they explain the valuation and sales process to you.
“This will also give you an opportunity to assess basic things like their phone manners and interactive skills. Do they follow through on things and are they punctual? Is there constant communication? Are they keeping you up to date with information even if there is no feedback to share, just a quick check in says a lot about the agent.”
Adrian Goslett, chief executive of Re/Max of Southern Africa, says the assistance of an established, knowledgeable, and well-connected agent can make all the difference when it comes to selling your home timeously and for full value.
“The basis for this decision can be summed up in three words: good, trust, and care. Choose somebody who you know is the best at what they do, who is trustworthy, and who cares about your needs. The first can be proven through stats and sales records.”
The other two characteristics, he says, are harder to assess and can really be discerned only through interactions with the agent.
“Meet either virtually or face to face if possible with several agents before deciding who you will work best with,” he says.
The last step is one that many sellers tend to overlook – and that is to make a lasting relationship with your agent.
“Even after your home is sold, you never know when you’re going to need real estate advice. Good estate agents can offer a wealth of useful information, from referring a reliable plumber to suggesting a great spot to invest in a holiday home. Keeping in touch with your agent can prove helpful well into the future.”