What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?

Australian Real Estate Agents Usually Act for the Seller

fiduciary duties of a real estate sales agent to their vendor principalA real estate agent is someone who represents you in the process of selling (or buying) a property. In Australia the real estate agent is the person who deals with all of the potential buyers and has to try to get the highest price possible for the seller (known to agents as the vendor). Technically this is called a selling agent (or a listing agent) because in other parts of the world many agents will act for the buyer and not the seller. So, depending on which country you live in you may have an agent acting for the seller and an agent acting for the buyer.

The Most Important Aspect of a Real Estate Agent

Many websites will tout that they’ll find you the best agent (like localagentfinder and openagent and dozens of other comparison websites) and what they do is gather statistics for you. Most of these statistics are publicly available to you if you do a bit of searching around so the fact that these sites gather all the information into one place is helpful. Despite these statistics, hiring a real estate agent is a combination of performance and personality.

When you begin the journey of hiring a real estate agent you need to consider that your agent will most often be the go-to person for every step of the selling process, after all they’ve been through this process many times before. This means that you’ll speak with them about:

  1. The method of sale (private treaty, expressions of interest, auction)
  2. Marketing and advertising
  3. Get a valuation appraisal (market value vs bank valuation)
  4. Preparing the property for sale (property staging)
  5. Open houses and inspections
  6. Receiving offers and negotiating with buyers
  7. Offer and Acceptance (and the other legal steps in the property sales process)
  8. Exchange, Settlement etc

When you consider that a property sale is one of the biggest financial transactions you may go through and that you’ll want to be kept informed at every step of the process, the most important thing is that you can reach and speak with the agent and that you both get along.

You’ll want to always be able to reach your agent, get their professional opinion and be able to communicate openly and honestly to achieve your goal.

Your Real Estate Agent is Like a Contractor

Hiring a real estate agent is like hiring any other contractor, you need to

  1. See their resume for what they have achieved in the past,
  2. Look for real testimonials from property owners who have used the agent to sell their property (ideally you want to see references from property vendors who are happy to give you a verbal testimonial not just a written one).
  3. See how well you get on and relate to each other

An agent who has been very active in the last 6 months will have the best idea of market values and the level of interest from buyers as well as what types of properties they are looking for. They’ll be in regular contact with other agents from their real estate agency office as well as agents from other agencies so they’ll have a very good understanding of what is going on in the local area.

What to Consider Before Choosing a Real Estate Agent

The hard work for a real estate agent begins when the marketing campaign begins. They will start showing the property and speak with potential buyers about the property the area and the price (and other properties that are available to the buyer). This means that they’ll have to:

  1. Manage their calendar and time well
  2. Present well and remain diligent
  3. Keep interested parties engaged as they build up a competitive bidding process
  4. Report back to you about progress, offers and opinions

Knowing that this is where the hard work will be you should ask them questions about how they’ll manage this part of the process for you – you may even want to go to some open homes they are showing to get an idea of how they operate.

Real Estate Agents have a Fiduciary Duty

The point that is often missed by naive buyers or by bad real estate agents is that when a real estate agent is engaged by a
party, the real estate agent enters into a fiduciary relationship with that party (the principal). As part of the fiduciary relationship, the real estate agent must act in good faith and in the best interests of its principal. This is the guiding legal rule of all principal and agent relationships.

A real estate sales agent acts for YOU, the seller, so every decision they make, even thing they say and everything they do should be aimed at helping you achieve your goals. If the agent says something negative about the property or you, the vendor, they are undermining the success of the campaign and putting of potential buyers.

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