Selling your home? 6 signs you need a new estate agent

If your estate agent is not the right fit you need to know what steps to take. Picture: RDNE Stock project

If your estate agent is not the right fit you need to know what steps to take. Picture: RDNE Stock project

Published Oct 30, 2023


Choosing a real estate agent is one of the most crucial decisions a seller makes in the home-selling process because the right agent can be the key to a smooth, successful transaction, while the wrong one can lead to frustration and missed opportunities.

This is the most pivotal decision in the home-selling journey, influencing not only the speed of the sale but also its overall success and even the return on investment.

The choice of a real estate agent is a decision that goes beyond simply listing a property; it is a partnership, and both parties need to be on the same page and share the same vision,” says Yael Geffen, chief executive of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty

Ultimately, sellers should also expect their appointed agent to bring the following skills and attributes to the table:

  • Market knowledge and expertise
  • Effective marketing strategies
  • Negotiation skills
  • Communication and responsiveness
  • Network and connections

“Unfortunately, not every agent is the perfect match for every seller and, occasionally, an agent may end up being good at talking the talk but not able to get the job done efficiently.

“However, there will be tell-tale signs that your choice might not have been the right one and recognising these indicators early on can empower sellers to take corrective action and ensure a smoother transaction.”

If you are selling your home, Geffen advises that you be on the lookout for these red flags and take corrective action sooner rather than later:

1. Lack of proactive communication

Effective communication is the bedrock of a successful real estate partnership. If your agent is consistently unresponsive, fails to return calls or emails promptly, or lacks transparency in keeping you informed about the progress of your sale, it could be a red flag.

A lack of communication not only breeds frustration but can also result in missed opportunities and misunderstandings.

What to look for:

  • Unanswered calls or emails
  • Lack of proactive communication about showings, feedback, or market updates

What to do:

  • Express your concerns: Schedule a candid conversation with your agent and communicate your concerns about communication lapses
  • Set expectations clearly: Establish clear expectations regarding communication frequency and preferred channels

2. Limited market knowledge

An adept real estate agent should have a thorough understanding of the local market. If your agent lacks the knowledge to accurately assess property values, identify market trends, or provide insightful advice, it might hinder your ability to make informed decisions and optimise your property's sale potential.

What to look for:

  • Inability to answer questions about recent comparable sales or market conditions
  • Limited knowledge about the unique selling points of your property.

What to do:

  • Seek clarification: Ask specific questions about recent comparable sales, market trends, and their overall understanding of the local real estate landscape
  • Research independently: Cross-reference information provided by your agent with your own research to ensure accuracy

3. Ineffective marketing strategies

A proactive approach to marketing is crucial for attracting potential buyers. If your agent's marketing strategies are lacklustre, relying solely on traditional methods without leveraging digital platforms or innovative techniques, your property may not be reaching its full audience.

What to look for:

  • Limited online presence for your property
  • Lack of creative marketing initiatives or use of digital platforms
  • Very few requests to view your property.

What to do:

  • Discuss marketing plans: Have a detailed discussion about the marketing plan, including online presence, social media strategies, and open house events
  • Request adjustments: If the current strategies seem ineffective, suggest adjustments and explore new avenues for promotion.

4. Overpromising and under-delivering

An agent's promises should align with achievable outcomes. If your agent makes extravagant promises about the selling price, timeline, or potential buyers without a realistic basis, it may indicate a lack of integrity or an eagerness to secure your listing at any cost.

What to look for:

  • Promises that seem too good to be true
  • Consistent failure to meet promised timelines or outcomes

What to do:

  • Seek realistic projections: Discuss realistic expectations for the sale, considering market conditions, comparable sales, and property attributes
  • Address concerns promptly: If promises are consistently unmet, address your concerns promptly to avoid prolonged disappointments

5. Lack of negotiation skills

Effective negotiation is a hallmark of a skilled real estate agent. If your agent struggles to negotiate effectively on your behalf, it can lead to unfavourable terms, lower sale prices, or potential buyers slipping through the cracks.

What to look for:

  • Difficulty navigating offers and counter-offers
  • Unwillingness or inability to secure favourable terms

What to do:

  • Assess past negotiation performance: Inquire about your agent's previous negotiation experiences and successes
  • Provide input: Communicate your priorities and preferences to ensure that your agent advocates for your best interests

6. Limited availability and accessibility

Real estate transactions often require swift decision-making and responsiveness. If your agent has limited availability, making it challenging to schedule showings, respond to offers promptly, or accommodate potential buyers, it can impede the sales process.

What to look for:

  • Difficulty in making arrangements to meet up
  • Unanswered emails and phone calls

What to do:

  • Establish expectations: Clearly communicate your expectations regarding availability and responsiveness from the outset
  • Explore alternatives: If their schedule consistently hinders the process, consider exploring alternatives or requesting additional support from their team

Geffen says that, very often, these issues can be easily dealt with through open and honest communication, but it can require some effort and there are times that it simply isn’t going to work out.

What property sellers can do if they are unhappy with their estate agent

– Have an honest conversation

Open communication is key. Schedule a meeting with your agent to discuss your concerns, providing specific examples and expressing your expectations moving forward.

– Seek mediation

In cases where both parties are open to finding a resolution, mediation can be a constructive option. A neutral third party can help facilitate a conversation and explore potential solutions.

– Consult with the brokerage/agency

If the agent isn’t freelance and is part of a larger agency, reaching out to the agency’s management can be a next step. They may offer guidance, assign a different agent within the firm, or address the concerns through internal channels.

– Release from the contract

If the issues persist, you can cancel the contract as per the Consumer Protection Act by giving 20 working days’ notice but you will be liable for costs and will have to start the process all over again so it’s always advisable to try and work out the issues.

– Consider legal advice

While legal action should be a last resort, seeking legal advice can provide clarity on your options and the terms of the listing agreement. However, this route is typically taken in extreme cases where contractual obligations are not met.

“Choosing the right real estate agent is a critical decision that directly impacts the success of your home sale and recognising the signs of a mismatched partnership early on allows sellers to take proactive steps, whether that involves constructive communication, adjustments to the strategy, or, in some cases, seeking alternative representation,” Geffen says., adding that a successful real estate journey hinges on a collaborative and transparent relationship between sellers and their chosen agents.

Both parties must work in tandem towards a common goal, which is selling the property for the best possible outcome.

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