A real estate agent's number one focus is making sure your property sells for the best price, in the least amount of time, with the least amount of disruption. We can probably all agree, that is most seller's goals too.
However, achieving that goal isn't as simple as placing a 'for sale' sign out the front and putting a listing online. While every agent has a different strategy based on their experience and location, there are a few common tasks that need to take place to ensure your goals are met.
Define a timeline & communication expectations
Although the basic goal is to sell your property as quickly as possible, certain circumstances must be considered when setting a time-frame. Things like what needs to be done to the property to maximise price? Do you need to find another property while selling. Your agent should discuss whether a 'Plan B' is a good idea should your situation change.
This initial conversation should also touch on your communication expectations. How frequently do you want updates from the agent? Do you prefer calls, texts or emails? When and how you can contact them and how quickly they will return your calls/emails etc.
On top of this your agent should detail what happens behind the scenes and give you an overview of the processes that take place and how you may need to get involved to ensure things run smoothly throughout the sale.
Provide detailed comparable sales when setting a price
Anyone can set a price on a property. Whether or not it is a realistic one is another story. Your agent should develop a pricing strategy based on comparable properties both sold and currently on the market in your immediate area. They should also discuss why they are comparable and what factors contribute to your property achieving a higher or lower price.
Furthermore, your agent should give you a thorough overview of the local market conditions (past & present) along with projections about where they think the market is heading.
Create a marketing strategy
Marketing your property should go beyond the for sale sign and internet listing. To stand out and reach the right buyers, your agent should have a plan for creating and implementing a structured advertising campaign that attracts genuine buyers. A big part of that campaign should focus on digital marketing including an optimised landing page, a social media strategy that includes multiple platforms, video, email & SMS.
Traditional marketing strategies still matter in today's market place. Well designed flyers, brochures and newspaper advertisements are designed to reach certain demographics. They're not for every property so your agent should be able to explain which media suits your property and why it will increase buyer interest.
The most important part of your marketing strategy is photography. The photos of your property make a huge impact on buyer perception. Photos should look bright, inviting and not-too-edited.
Have a discussion about staging, street appeal and any fixes to make.
All these things influence the perceived value of your home and are completely in your control. Your agent should recommend what changes would be worth making to the interior and exterior and what wouldn't be worth the investment.
Staging is all about showing your home in its 'best light'. Your staging may simply be to clear out the clutter, replace window treatments and add a few potted plants out the front. Or it may be worthwhile packing up and hiring furniture to completely the stage the property. Another option is to clear the clutter and keep some larger items and have a stylist "dress it up. with smaller pieces." Above all your agent should be able to tell you what will matter most to your buyers and what is a low priority.
Plan open houses and inspections
Whether virtual or in person your agent should be planning to open your property and schedule private inspections. This isn't just about setting a date and letting you know. The plan should include how to get potential buyers and buyers agents interested in whatever form the open house takes. For inspections your agent should get your availability ahead of time and respect that availability. While last minute inspections right at dinner time can pop up, your agent shouldn't schedule on any days your definitely can't do.
Follow up with buyers and buyers' agents
After inspections and open houses, your real estate should be following up with every interested buyer or buyers agent. It is important for agents to establish a strong communication channel with potential buyers to establish their intent including determining if they are approved for finance and ready to purchase within your time-frame.
Keep the ball rolling when offers come in
Once offers start being submitted, your agent's coordination and communication skills will make sure no momentum is lost, but also make sure that you don't get swept up in the first offer. Your agent should explain each offer and its merits, they should double check that the buyer is qualified and will help you evaluate each one to make an educated decision.... all while also making sure the buyers remain interested. These balancing skills are imperative for a successful outcome during negotiations, inspections and everything else that unfolds during the sale.
Remaining strong during negotiating.
Your listing agent will of course focus on getting the best price for your property however, they should also be seeking the best possible terms and conditions for you. This can encompass things like contingencies, settlement dates, or even things like improvements or fixes that buyer has requested, and things you won't budget on.
Represent you on building reports & valuations
When your agent attends important inspections from a building inspectors or valuer they'll get first hand info directly, this way they can ensure the reports are consistent and accurate. Sometimes written reports can be interpreted incorrectly or over exaggerated, having an active involvement, your agent will be well informed and able to diffuse and objections that may arise from these reports.
Handle the little details at settlement.
When your transaction is nearly complete, the loose ends tend to multiply. Whether its making sure the smoke detectors are working, or the final water reading has been done your agent will make sure that everything has been taken care of so you don't have to.
In the end, selling a property successfully involves a lot of effort, strategy, and expertise that might go unnoticed. Knowing just what your agent does or should do helps define your expectations, but also gives you insight on what to ask. After all, the other key to a successful sale isn’t just a real estate agent who knows what they’re doing. It’s a seller who has the information they need to make the best decisions.