Research well before choosing
Deciding to put your house on the market is the easy part, finding the right person to sell it can be more difficult, reports Sue Emeny.
The introduction of Real Estate Act 2008 and the formation of the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) has dramatically improved the level of service provided within the industry and this means vendors can have more faith in the person they have selected to sell what is probably their most valuable asset.
Andy Stewart, who has 23 years in the industry, is the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) district forum leader and it’s his job to assist and co-ordinate activities for the real estate professionals in this area who are members of the institute.
‘‘Members of the public can be a lot more confident that an agency will carry out its work to a higher standard. The introduction of the act and the formation of the Real Estate Agents Authority, a independent regulatory body for the industry and watchdog for the consumer, has increased the standard of real estate work within the industry.
‘‘Each individual salesperson is now a licensee and is individually accountable to the REAA. Salespeople used to be able to hide behind the agency, but they can no longer do that.’’
Andy says the act has brought about transparency and disclosure in real estate transactions.
‘‘A salesperson has to disclose absolutely everything they know about a property, we can’t withhold anything. If a vendor asks us not to disclose something about their property, we are unable to work for that person.’’
A salesperson who fails to disclose information can be investigated by the Real Estate Agents Authority Complaints Assessment Committee or the Disciplinary Tribunal.
‘‘This has been a huge change and has sorted out the industry. People should be far more confident now about choosing a salesperson. The fines a salesperson can have imposed are real fines, not token gesture stuff. A salesperson can be held accountable for their actions and the fines and damages that can be awarded are substantial and certainly make you think.’’
When choosing a salesperson, Andy suggests first and foremost talking to family and friends who have had dealings with salespeople.
‘‘Personal recommendation is probably the best way of selecting a salesperson.
‘‘They need to find out how they got on with the salesperson, were they honest, and whether the salesperson worked in their best interests and achieved a sale."
He says communication and keeping the vendors informed during the sale process were important as well.
‘‘The other thing to consider is which company the salesperson is working for, looking at the reputation and presence of that company in the marketplace and whether that company meets their needs.’’
Another valuable tool is the REAA’S online Public Register of Licensees. Members of the public can visit to see if a salesperson has any past history of misconduct.
‘‘Those misdemeanours remain on the
‘‘Then I think you need to ascertain whether you feel comfortable with that person, do they have your best interest at heart, will they put in the maximum effort to your cause.’’
Another important point to raise is in regard to fees.
‘‘It is important to find out what is covered in the fee structure and are the fees comparable in the market place.
‘‘Marketing is an important investment by vendors, increasing the profile of your property and making sure it stands out from the crowd certainly assists the property to sell. The level of input is entirely optional and you should be able to negotiate an effective marketing package in conjunction with your selected agency.
‘‘With the median number of days to sell a house in March being 30 days, it is important to hit the market hard in the first four to six weeks to achieve the optimum price whilst the property is fresh to the market.’’
Andy issues a warning when it comes to flat fees.
‘‘These aren’t necessarily the best option, and neither are slashed fees.’’
They can reduce the salesperson’s incentive to secure the best price.
‘‘It’s all about service and value. Salespeople are trained negotiators, they’re there to get the best price for a property.’’
Andy says there are a lot of success stories from people who have sold their houses themselves, but says they may not have got the best price for their property.
When a vendor signs a contract with a salesperson, it is as much a commitment to the real estate agency as it is to the property owner, says Andy.
‘‘As a salesperson, you have got to commit yourself to do everything within your power to get the best possible price for the vendors, in a time frame that meets the vendors circumstances and with the minimum of inconvenience.’’
Andy Stewart register for ever,’’ says Andy.
‘‘There are no second chances and that’s good, after all, you are dealing with people’s major assets.
"The number of salespersons who have a disciplinary record on the public register is a small number compared to the number of licensees in the industry," says Andy.
Salespeople are aware they have to work to a Professional Code of Conduct and Client Care and that looking after the client’s interests is paramount.
‘‘Salespeople have to be far more accountable and that’s the best thing that has ever happened to the industry.
Offering client protection at a different level is the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, which Andy says still has a positive role.
‘‘A question clients should ask themselves is whether the salesperson is a member of the institute.
‘‘Membership is voluntary, but the people who do become members tend to be career professionals and part of companies that want to make sure they adopt best practice standards, are up-todate with current legislation, and are bound by REINZ’S Code of Agency Practice.’’
Another advantage of being a member of the institute is that it provides access to up-to-the-minute sales information, says Andy.
This information helps salespeople provide real time appraisals.
‘‘Setting a price for a house isn’t an exact science,’’ says Andy.
‘‘Salespeople are interpreting the marketplace, and where a property sits on the market.
But getting back to the issue of choosing a salesperson, Andy suggests a homeowner shortlists two or three to provide a market appraisal of their property and interviewing them.
‘‘It would effectively be like conducting a job interview, after all, you are employing that person to work for you.