The 9 Best Questions to Identify Skill in a Sea of Agent Bravado

Selling your house can be a nervous time. Especially for a first-time vendor. What if I choose the wrong agent? What happens if no one offers at the tender? Is a tender even the right method to sell my house? How much commission should I pay? The stakes are huge and getting it wrong can be an incredibly costly exercise.

At a presentation the other day a potential vendor asked about my negotiating skills. This lead the conversation down a path about the skills of a good agent. Agents are excellent at self-promotion but how can you test if they are the best agent to market your home for sale? They rarely come with a referee so how can you trust what they say they will do. One word: questions. Good questions will allow you to do a deep dive on the skill behind the bravado. This month we arm you with the nine best questions to ask when you’re interviewing your next real estate agent.

Market Awareness – How Well Does Your Agent Know the Market?

A good real estate agent will understand how the market is performing and how to best position your property in that market at any given time.  The property market can do a 180 on as little as an interest rate change. A good agent will be aware of how wider policy and economic changes can affect a market and they will be ready to react quickly. When you are interviewing agents a good question to ask would be:

“How do you change your approach to suit different markets?”

Method of Sale– What is Your Plan B?

When it comes to presenting a marketing strategy, a lot of weight is placed on the best method of sale for your property. Is your agent pitching Auction, Tender, or BEO? They will always have an accompanying war story to demonstrate just how successful that method can be.  The reality is all methods work but what happens when they don’t? Just as important as the initial method is the ‘Plan B’ or back up plan. That is how will you reinvigorate a campaign if it hasn’t sold by a given date. A property which doesn’t sell under the hammer or on the tender date is not unsaleable, but it does require a quick shift in tack to keep the momentum in the campaign. Pricing feedback gathered from buyers in the first weeks of the campaign will allow an agent to quickly move to a secondary method, normally some form of price indication e.g. BEO. Not only that but it will help avoid a prolonged time on the market and reduce the perception that there is something wrong with your property. So, a couple of good questions to ask your prospective agent:

“What is our plan B should the property not sell at the Tender/Auction/Deadline?”

“How do you gather pricing feedback and how is that reported? Can I see a sample report?

We provide a weekly written report with verbatim buyer comments and all pricing feedback in a graphic format. It would be good to know upfront just how you will be communicated with over the course of the campaign and just how serious your agent is about collecting that all important feedback. These reports will be a great indication if your agent is all blow with no follow up.

Advertising – What advertising do I need and what other methods do you have to attract buyers to my property?

Just like sales methods, all agents will have a convincing argument for why, particularly in the case of print media, you should pay for advertising via certain channels. Advertising a property for sale is about getting the property in front of the eyeballs of those who could potentially buy it so it’s important to know how to do this most effectively. The age of the eyeballs i.e. your target market will guide you on where you on where best to spend your advertising dollar. In the case of advertising, ask your agent:

“Where do my target market search for real estate?”

But it’s not all about advertising. Some of the best buyers will have been offering on homes similar to yours and be ready to jump at the drop of a hat. In addition to your discussion on advertising ask your agent

“What houses have you sold in the last two months which are similar to mine?”

“How many unsuccessful buyers did you have in each of those campaigns and how do you manage the ongoing relationship with those buyers?”

We manage a database of every buyer who comes to our open homes. We send them our new listings weekly and spend over twenty hours a week across our team contacting buyers to discuss property directly. Your agent’s response should involve a clear indication of the types and frequency of buyer communication and any additional marketing initiatives he or she has outside of the main search platforms which can be used to promote your home.

Keeping Calm – Picking the Best Real Estate Agent

There is no need for an agent to panic when everything thing is going well. During the boom time, little goes wrong, and the newest of agents can still generate great results. There is also no need for an agent to panic when it’s not. In fact, the careful selection of an agent who is cool under pressure and has the knowledge and skill to problem solve, will be paramount to your success no matter the market. Get it wrong and an inexperienced or unskilled agent can not only do your property damage but can cost you tens of thousands. A good question to ask:

“Can you provide an example of a tricky deal you have successfully navigated to sale”?

Commission – Looking beyond a % to compare apples with apples

In the absence of an existing, trusted relationship with an agent, the decision on who to go with normally comes down to a couple two things. How much will my house sell for and how much will it cost me?

A potential sales range should never be the deciding factor because the agent is not buying your house. A well run and considered process (uncovered by questioning) should always be your focus.

But the commission. It’s a tricky one to for many to overlook but it’s imperative to remember that unless you get a result that you’re happy to accept, the job is done for free, so choosing the BEST agent is the key. So, on a final note, make sure you are comparing apples with apples. A new, inexperienced agent with no support simply cannot deliver the experience of a highly skilled and leveraged agent. Would you want your surgeon manning the reception desk? If the answer’s no, then don’t underestimate the value that a skilled and supported agent can bring to your sale. So, the final question for you

“Do you have administration support or a team and what role do they play in the campaign? “

Happy interviewing!

The Wellington Market

The real estate market continues to defy predictions. You could even go as far as to say the market is on fire! So what have we noticed? It’s incredibly competitive, particularly at the lower end, with a new wave of buyers and investors flooding the market. Just last week we sold a 90sqm, three bedroom, entry level home in Broadmeadows for $817k cash. Not only that, we received 21 offers in total so there are 20 unsuccessful purchasers still on the hunt! It’s pretty tough going out there for buyers but for potential sellers looking to time the market – that time has come. So give us a call if you would like to chat through your unique situation. We are always happy to help.




He Tohu, 18 June – 11 July 2020, Jhana Millers Building, Mibar Building, 85 Victoria St, Wellington

He Tohu connects four emerging Māori artists and considers the relationship between whakapapa, place and symbolism. While Tohu has many meanings, in this context it is taken as a sign, a symbol and as a form of guidance, or a suggestion of an alternative world view.

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Tamatea: Legacies of Encounter, 1 Jan – 26 July 2020, Te Papa, 55 Cable Street, Wellington

This exhibition presents a new acquisition, a painting by William Hodges, in conversation with Ngāi Tahu whānui and artworks by Mark Adams and Colin McCahon.

Together, they speak to the legacies – artistic, cultural, and scientific – generated by the first meeting of James Cook and southern Māori.

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Encounter 1, on now – 5 July 2020, City Gallery, Civic Square, 101 Wakefield Street, Wellington

This is the first in a series of exhibitions juxtaposing artists exploring the theme of encounter. Auckland artist Michael Parekōwhai meets Congolese-Belgian musician and filmmaker Baloji. Both address the unreadability of the other.

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If you, or anyone you know, could benefit from a considered market assessment by Wellington’s only licensed agent and registered property valuer, please do not hesitate to call. We are always happy to help.

Click here to book your free appraisal today. 

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