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How To Select The Best Local Selling Agent: Figures and Feel - September 2021

By Guest Blogger, Leanne Pilkington, CEO,

Laing & Simmons and President REINSW


Choosing the right agent is a big decision. Track record, costs, experience versus energy, the list of factors to consider goes on. There are common mistakes to avoid and important questions to ask. This month, REINSW President and Laing+Simmons CEO Leanne Pilkington takes a closer look at a choice that often balances figures and feel.

Once a vendor has made the decision to sell - perhaps a wise decision given the current appetite for property - there are some key choices to make. Selecting the right agent is top of the list.

First, a warning. People often choose the agent which tells them the highest sale price and the lowest commission. This is a mistake. If an agent is unable to negotiate an appropriate fee for themselves, taking pride in the work they do and the value they add, how could you be confident they can negotiate the best sale price for you?

In approaching an agent, vendors should consider what’s important to them. Do you want consistent updates throughout the campaign, do you want to be across every step in the process, or do you want the agent to take care of things and only update you when there’s news to tell?

Different agents use different techniques, but they must be able to justify their approach. Think of it as a case of “don’t tell me you are funny, make me laugh”. Ask the agent to show you how they would handle a negotiation so you can gauge their ability to get the best figure and get a feel for their personality too.

Certainly, the agent’s track record and past results are important considerations, and their reputation in the local market can give you an idea of their ability. Experience matters but vendors shouldn’t discount the value of energy and enthusiasm that can sometimes come from youth.

There’s no definitive answer to the number of agents you should interview before making a choice. As a guide, it’s probably best to speak to at least three for the sake of comparison, but mostly it’s about you, feeling comfortable because they’ve given you confidence – in them and their approach.

That approach may be unique, but agents will use similar calculations to work out what your property is worth.

Comparable sales of similar properties in the local area are overlaid with current price trends to determine a ballpark figure. However, it’s important to note that agents are not forecasters, nor are they permitted to be.

Recent prices can provide an accurate guide, bank valuations will need to be assessed, but these are based on history. Even the most recent sales can’t predict the future. And there’s also your price expectation to consider.

As for commissions, they vary, often depending on the location and value of the property. Take time to understand why the rate is what it is. With your calculator nearby.

Perhaps certain marketing or administrative costs are covered under a higher commission. Perhaps a lower commission is simple desperation on the agent’s part to secure your listing and may not point to their ability. Ask the question, then take the time to understand the fine print.

How the agent markets your property will obviously be a major factor in the success of the campaign. Marketing needs will depend on the style of campaign the agent wants to run. For instance, do they plan to use social media initially to access their existing database, or do they recommend using one or more of the popular portals?

There are plenty of options, both digital and physical, so ask the agent where buyers of their previous listings have come from. Make sure they can justify any spending they want you to do.

The marketing campaign must match the method of sale. But what’s the best way to sell? It’s another question to ask in that initial interview with the agent.

A good agent will be able to articulate not just how they would approach the sale to your property, but why. In times of low supply and price growth, such as the current market, auctions typically make the most sense, so if the agent is not suggesting you sell via auction, make sure you understand their rationale.

As a vendor, it’s important to feel comfortable that the agent has a clear plan. Certainly, there may be adjustments to the campaign needed along the way, but you must feel comfortable that the approach is the right one for your property, and for you.

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