It’s interesting to note that most sellers overlook the importance of service and communication when selecting an estate agent to market their home. For many sellers, the price the agent puts on their property and the fee they charge appear to be the deciding factors.
It’s only later that they realize the agent does not set the market value – it’s the buyers that do this. And so the “promise” of a higher price is usually just agent talk to buy your mandate.
The lower the fee an agent charges the less they will invest in the marketing of your property. So whilst the fee is important to consider, what really matters is what marketing plan will be implemented because this will have a significant influence of the buyer interest and what you sell for. Previous articles have dealt with the importance of strong marketing to attract the correct buyers.
But the issue of service is often overlooked, and usually to the detriment of the seller. In our customer surveys the number 1 issue that sellers have had is the lack of service and communication from estate agents. It’s only when you aren’t getting the service you expected that you appreciate how important it is.
What every seller needs is current feedback from the market on their property. This means that every time an agent brings a buyer through your door you need to know what the buyers thought, even if they decide the property isn’t for them. Skilled agents know how to get a genuine opinion from a buyer on a property. What didn’t they like? What did they like? What do they feel the property is worth? What other properties compete or offer better value?
This information is critical in determining if the list price is correct, and if there is anything that can be done to make the property more appealing to other buyers. Sadly, many agents neglect to give this feedback. Sellers get frustrated at being told: “they loved your house” – when no one seems to make an offer. That’s because the real feedback isn’t being communicated. It’s impossible for everyone to love your house if no one is making an offer.
In addition to this, agents that deliver good service have regular review meetings with the seller to ensure everything is proceeding as intended. Any issues are addressed quickly so that valuable marketing time isn’t lost, and buyer activity is maintained at high levels.
Another complaint that sellers have is that they never hear from their agent again once a sales agreement has been concluded. A lot happens between the time a contract is signed and transfer takes place, and a seller needs to be kept informed.
When selecting an agent it’s important to ask what service and communication you will receive from them. Ask if they will put their service undertaking in writing. Our experience is that when seller and agent agree in writing there is a clear expectation set and the agent can then deliver what the client wants. Be sure to include the issue of service when next selecting your agent.
Principal, Harcourts Platinum
Director, Harcourts South Africa