Questions to ask when selling

1. Can you provide me with a list of your past 10 clients?

There’s no better advertising than word of mouth, and no better way to find out the truth as to how your agent will treat you once he’s got your signature. Isn’t it amazing then that a lot of agents don’t allow you to contact their past clients, I wonder why?

If an agent will allow you to have access to the names and numbers of his past clients and those people have had good experiences, fantastic! You are half way to having a happy sale.

2. How many properties did you sell last year?

Good agents sell more properties and you need to know the facts. This will give you a good indication as to how successful the agent is at actually selling a house! You should also ask how many of their sales were in your immediate local area to give you an idea as to how well they know your area.

3. How many buyers are you working with at the moment?

It is important that your agent knows of buyers who are interested in buying a property similar to yours. Not only will this make it easier for the agent to sell your property, it gives you an indication as to how successful they are. If the agent has a lot of buyers, then it is generally because they are selling lots of properties.

It is also important that the agent knows exactly who their buyers are and that their office has good systems in place to track them. Buyer enquiries into the office are golden; they should be tracked to ensure that every buyer is looked after. A good follow up question is to ask is how they contact their buyers to notify them of a new listing. If there is no system in place, you need to question the agents’ ability to find someone to buy your house.

4. May I see an example of your market campaign/advertising?

This is a must to see. If the look of their advertising doesn’t attract your eye, chances are it will not attract the eyes of buyers. Make sure you like what they do with their advertising and the places they advertise. Will they advertise your property online? Research shows that 90% of buyers use the web to look for their new home, so it is important that your agent promotes your property online as well as offline.

5. How often will I get feedback?

It is important that your agent has a system in place to ensure that you will know what is going on every step of the way during the sale process.

Ensure your agent will contact you immediately after each inspection and update you regularly to discuss the success of your marketing campaign, and the interest of potential buyers.

In a survey of home sellers, lack of feedback consistently comes up as the No.1 complaint against their agent. If an agent can’t communicate effectively with you, can you be sure they are communicating with prospective purchasers?

6. How many sales people are in your team?

Does the agent have suitable backup and support? Who do I contact if you are not available?

You are really trying to establish whether the agent is someone with whom you want to deal with. A small team with the personal touch or a large team with a number of sales people available to show your home. What would you prefer?

7. What type of training programs do you and your team attend?

To be a top performer in any industry you need to undergo regular training to enhance your skills. Ask them what courses they have attended recently. Ask them what they learnt on that course. A major problem within the industry is that it attracts agents who are great at the talk, but can’t really walk the walk.

8. What charges will I incur if the house doesn’t sell?

Most agents work on a commission only basis meaning that if your house doesn’t sell, you don’t pay them a cent. This reduces the risk to you and can make the agent work harder to sell your property (as they don’t get paid unless they sell it).

On the flip side, marketing and promotion is an important element in the sale process. Sometimes you will need to contribute some or all of the marketing costs associated with your campaign. These costs are generally required to be paid regardless of whether your house sells.

Be aware that some agent contracts will require you to pay certain expenses even if your house isn’t sold. Read your contract carefully and identify all the costs (if any) that you will incur if your home does not sell and seek legal advice before you sign any contract. If an agent tries to get you to sign an agreement and skims over this area – run and run fast!

9. If I am not happy with your performance, how do I cancel our agreement?

You need to find out upfront how you can terminate your agreement with your agent. You want to make sure that if the agent does not sell your home within a reasonable time frame, you can terminate the agreement and appoint another agent (or sell it yourself) without any penalty or restrictions.

It is a good idea to ask a conveyancer/solicitor to review your agreement (prior to you signing it) to ensure you get the best advice around this issue.

10. When is your office open?

An office needs to be open when the buyers are looking. Buyers aren’t looking just between 9am and 5pm. Do they close at 5pm or 7pm? What are their weekend hours? Do they have a website that promotes your property and attracts buyers and sellers when the office is closed?

 Questions to ask when buying

1. How long has the property been on the market?

This question is really going to give you an idea of whether the vendor is getting keen to sell. Generally, most vendors get keener to sell their home the longer it is on the market. Once a property has been for sale for 6-8 weeks, many vendors (and agents) are starting to think that their selling price is too high. If the agent tells you that the property has been on the market for at least 6 weeks, ask them if the price has been already reduced or whether the vendor would consider a reduced price.

Also, another bonus for you is that if the agents contract to sell the property is nearing its end they might be getting extra keen to sell it. You might find that the agent will become your best friend and will give you all the info you need to buy the property at the lowest price.

2. Will they negotiate on price?

This sounds ridiculous, but don’t underestimate its power. By asking this question an agent might just give up the information you want to know before you make an offer.

3. Why are they selling?

By knowing the answer to this question, you can get a sense as to how eager they are to sell, enabling you to work out their timetable or deadline for selling. For example, if the agent tells you that they are moving up to Brisbane to start work in 8 weeks, you know they are motivated to sell as soon as possible. If they are downsizing because the kids have left home and they still haven’t bought a new place, they may be willing to hold out longer to get the right price.

4. Have they had any offers so far, if so how much?

Try and find out what previous offers have been declined, or offers that have been successful but possibly fallen through. This can give you an idea of what the vendor will accept, or at least what other buyers have thought the property is worth.

5. What is the lowest price they’ll accept?

Not all agents will give you a straight answer to this question, but some agents will actually give it to you straight up. For example, if an agent says “They’ll take $320,000”, you know not to go over this amount. Even if they don’t give you an exact amount, they are likely to give you an indication as to the price a vendor may be willing to accept.

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