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Should you flick or stick with the agent?

Given the due diligence which has gone into selecting an agent, to then not achieve a sale is demoralising. It leads to a decision which no seller wants to have to make at the end of a campaign – deciding to continue with their existing agent or change agents.

The easiest thing to do is to blame your agent for not selling, especially when other agents are knocking on your door promising to do a better job than the previous agent.

However, if the existing agent is not the reason the property has failed to sell, then changing agents will simply move your existing problem to another agency. Changing agents midstream can look bad to potential buyers. Before changing, ask yourself some hard questions about the decisions you and your agent made.

Here are some guidelines to help you through this decision making process:

If the agent has suggested that price is the reason why your property has not sold, you need to quickly ascertain at what price the agent believes your property will sell for in the current market.

If the price they suggest is significantly different from what you were quoted originally, then there is a fair chance that you have been misled by the agent. In this situation, you would be quite justified in sacking the agent. All agents must be held accountable if they give vendors an over inflated market price in order to obtain a listing. In the industry, this is called ‘buying the listing’.

In order to bring balance to this point though, it is also fair that you recognise the difference between when the market price has actually dropped and when an agent has deliberately over quoted you to get your signature on a contract.

If you have difficulty making this judgment, engage a licensed valuer to help you. If you want to stick with your agent after this, then at the very least, you should negotiate the agent’s commission down if you have been misled by them.

If the agent is still confident that your property will sell for the price they quoted you at the time you went to market, then your failed sales campaign is feedback that your price expectations might be above what the market will deliver for you.

In these circumstances, you may change agents, but you still need to address the price issue in order to clear the way for a sale to be made, irrespective of whether you stick with your existing agent or find another one.

Basically, you need to decide whether you are prepared to accept the current market price for your property. If you are, then you will achieve the sale you want. If not, then you need to reassess your goals.

It is unfair to change agents simply because they cannot get you a price above what the market is prepared to pay. If your agent has been direct and forthright with you about the value of your property, to dismiss them at the end of a failed campaign is a case of shooting the messenger.

Real estate agents have two main roles when selling a property – to find interested buyers and then negotiate the highest possible price along with the best possible terms of sale from each buyer.

If your price is right, then the buyer who offers you the highest amount, and best terms for your home, will become the right buyer for it. Sometimes, you may feel that your price expectations are sound, but the right buyer has not been found or emerged to date. In such cases, if you want to sell your home then you may be wise to review your marketing campaign.

It is okay to try different approaches to try and stimulate a buyer to act on your property. You could photograph your property from a different perspective, have the agent call buyers looking in other suburbs, approach under-bidders at auctions with a brochure or try some print marketing if you have not done so already. Any or all of these things could easily become the key to making that sale happen for you.

However, if you continue to promote and show your property, someone will eventually see the true value in it. When they do, you could also discuss flexible terms of sale such as a delayed settlement or a smaller deposit to entice the buyer.

Before you resort to reducing your price, it is advisable to address all of the above marketing options. You should be very wary of any agent whose sole marketing solution is to cut the price.

Sometimes, the best marketing strategy is to simply wait.

The Agent
Knowing what constitutes a good agent will be of great assistance.

If you selected the agent because they quoted the highest sale price or the lowest fee, that decision is quite likely to be revealed as a mistake after a failed sales campaign.

One question encapsulates whether the agent deserves an extension of their contract or not. That is, are they competent?

By the end of the campaign, agents who previously missed out on your listing will be on the phone making promises and offering advice as to what should or should not be done. Some of this feedback may well be useful so you should at least listen to it. It is up to you then to decide if these criticisms have merit and relevance.

Given that it is not the best look to change agents, if you are satisfied that your existing agent has displayed sufficient effort, integrity and professional competence, it would probably be advisable to stick with them. Alternatively, you could withdraw your property from the market altogether.

If you have concluded that your current agent lacked in effort, integrity or competence then you need a new one.

The least desirable outcome for you would be to have the best buyer negotiating with the worst agent. If by the end of the campaign, you have not sold your property, you should now have a fair idea of what constitutes a good agent. You should always aim to pick the best agent and stick with the best agent, whether you initially listed with them or not.

Source: Harris Partners “Property News”


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