Pinpoint the Perfect Agent

Deciding to sell your property can be one of the biggest decisions you make in your life. Along with your savings for retirement, the property you own would be one of the highest valued assets in your portfolio. The decision to sell and who to appoint to sell your property should be done with utmost care.

How do you know who is the right agent for you?

From experience, I would suggest interviewing a minimum of three Agents before appointing one right for you. If you are an employer looking for the right employee to fill a job role, you do your due diligence first before deciding on the right candidate. You don’t want someone who turns up late, cannot do the task at hand or is disrespectful. The same decision making process should be applied when reviewing Agents.

To sell or not to sell? A good Agent will consider whether now is the right time for you to sell your property taking into account market conditions, reason for selling and your needs. Securing the listing should not be their number one focus. The number one focus should be what is best for you.

The biggest brand or most popular Agent by size may not necessarily be the right Agent for you. Flashy cars, the largest billboards or designer suits does not make for a good Agent. A popular Agent can be working with many clients and may be spread too thinly. Professionalism, knowledge of real estate and the ability to negotiate are critical skills of an Agent. My partner and I many years ago had a number one Agent come to appraise one of our properties and all the person did was talk about themselves. No questions were asked about us and our needs. Once the Agent left the property, my partner made the comment, “Elvis has now left the building!” We looked at each other, laughed and agreed this was not the person we wanted to represent our property and us.

Referrals are important. A good Agent will have a list of positive client testimonials and with prior approval from their past clients, be willing to provide you with their contact details. It is always a good idea to call one of their past clients to get an understanding on how they perceived the service they received.

Licensed and professional memberships of the relevant State Government body and real estate organisations in their State. In SA, a Real Estate Agent must be licensed by the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs and carry their license on them at all times. A good Agent in SA would also be a member of the Real Estate Institute of SA or the Society of Auctioneers and Appraisers. Membership of professional organisations means they are interested in their own professional development. Be wary, if an Agent cannot show you their license, consider them to be Frank Abagnale, the guy who before his 19th birthday successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars by posing as a pilot, doctor then prosecutor. We recommend no license, no appointment!

Knowledge is often underestimated and can be difficult to determine from an interview. However, if you ask the right questions, their knowledge should be evident. Questions like:

What do you consider to be the market appraisal for this property?

What areas of improvement to the property will assist us in maximising price?

What is the current market like for property in our area?

What would be the best way to market this property?

How do you qualify a buyer?

What qualifications do you have?

A good Agent should not need to be prompted by you, they will impart their knowledge throughout the initial meeting. Use your intuition and watch their body language. A lot can be garnered by body language. Beware of dominant body language, this is when a person makes the rules by interrupting you, using inappropriate language and standing over you. We are not looking for a round with Muhammad Ali, we are looking for someone who can build rapport and knows their profession.

Fees are also an important consideration. At SA Listings we are of the belief a good Agent does not need to be incentivised to obtain the best price for your property, for this reason we charge a fixed fee, no matter the value of the property. The role of a good Agent is to negotiate the very best price and conditions for you. When comparing fees ensure you have information not only on commission but also marketing costs, Government searches and Form 1 preparation. To compare apples with apples you need the entire fee structure. For more on fees, please refer to SA Listings earlier blog: “Real Estate Fees – Friend or Foe?”

We hope this article has been informative and assists in ensuring your property journey is a successful one.

Justine Thomson

Real Estate Fees – Friend or Foe?

My partner and I have sold many properties over the years and have used a myriad of different Real Estate Agents. Each Agent came to our home with similar style: walk through the property, appraise the property and then with much persuasion from us would disclose the cost of selling with their Agency. It was not a simple exercise. The fee conversation would go something like this:


“Our commission is 2% excluding GST.”


“Is there room to negotiate because according to our calculations that is a $17,600 fee to sell an $800,000 home and does this include marketing?”


“Our commission structure is based on the premium service we offer and whilst you may pay an additional premium compared to another Agent we will provide you more money in your pocket from the additional sale price we will achieve”.

Pretty much without fail, each Agent would say the same line. Then to complicate matters further, there would be the administration fee, marketing fee, form 1 fee and Government searches. These additional charges usually totalled another 1% of the property price. On $800,000 this equates to an extra $8,000.

None of this was provided in a simple to understand table. Figures were distributed in the same orderly fashion as people trying to board an EasyJet flight. We have been in the situation whereby some of these figures have not even been provided until it was time to sign the Sales Agency Agreement. For the last property we sold, valued at $800,000 the total cost from three Agents ranged from $20,000 to $36,000!

My partner and I would always wait before choosing an Agent to give us time to interpret the labyrinth of different fee structures. Often during this period, an Agent would call us back and suddenly be in a position to negotiate their commission. My brain is now rethinking the conversation in the living room: “Does this mean the more money on sale will now be out the window because they have reduced their commission?”

shutterstock_325157468None of this made sense. It got me thinking; if a Real Estate Agent is a true professional, no matter what they are paid, their job is to get you the best price for your property. In my simple world this is their job description.

For many years I was employed in finance as a CPA, specialising in superannuation. The company I worked for charged a fixed fee for service, it didn’t matter if you had $10,000 in super or $2 million dollars in super. The fee for service was based on the time spent to do the work. It got me thinking, “Why is this not the same for Real Estate?” I spent some years studying Conveyancing, to ensure I really understood property law and then obtained my Land Agents License with a view to making life simple for anyone looking to sell. Over the last few years I have been employed by large property developers and sold many properties. I wanted to be sure I understood all there is to know about selling real estate before launching the business model for SA Listings.

The business model is simple. We provide a full real estate agent service at an easy to understand, all-inclusive fee from $3,888 for land and $7,888 for house and land. We are Real Estate professionals not driven by incentives.

Eight years in the making, now provides a simple fixed fee model in South Australia for anyone looking to sell.

Justine Thomson