What does a seller look for in an agent?
Because the real estate agent is very often the important middleman between seller and buyer, it’s vital for these professionals to understand where a seller’s priorities lie in acquiring their services. 89% of home sellers still turn to agents to help them sell their home, leaving ample room for the latter to expand and improve their business toolkit. It’s unsurprising that 28% of sellers rank ‘finding a buyer’ as their top priority, so agents must have a firm and capable hand at how they market listings, generate leads and manage their SEO presence online, for starters. But there’s still a number of other conditions that sellers in 2020 are looking for in their agent; while some of them are familiar and to be expected, some are rising in popularity in a year that’s arguably thrown the industry into a new digital era.
According to a 2019 NAR report:
- 20% of all sellers surveyed wanted agents to help them market their home to potential buyers -
so it’s important for agents to be able to prove that they know how to showcase the property and tap into a market they already know inside and out
- Another 20% wanted help selling within a specific timeframe -
calling for agents who, again, not only know the market extremely well, but have the discipline and work ethic to push for results. Indeed, with the worldwide pandemic really hitting home this year, 46% of home sellers who sold after March said they were “somewhat urgent” in their need to sell their home, so agents were galvanized not only to work in a timely manner, but do so in unique, innovative and digital ways when they themselves were also in lockdown mode.
- 19% wanted help pricing their home competitively -
this requires agents to strike a good balance between conducting a market research analysis of what can be expected under the conditions, and translating those price points clearly to sellers, many of whom will not have prior understanding of how a home/neighbourhood is evaluated.
- 14% wanted help finding ways to fix up the home and sell it for more,
(a percentage that’s climbing every year) - while many realtors can walk into a home and estimate its value almost right away, good ones will be able to recommend improvements to the house that can make a difference to final pricing. It’s also one reason why more agents take staging training.
- 6% wanted help with negotiation and dealing with buyers -
again, robust negotiation skills are a priority. Great agents know which terms are worth negotiating for and which are worth letting the other party win.
- 4% wanted help with paperwork/inspections/preparing for settlement -
this continues to be an issue for sellers of all demographics and particularly with FSBOs (10%). Successful agents will be able to demonstrate they can smoothly help them navigate legal and regulatory requirements that come with the process, filter out unqualified buyers and zone in on qualified ones, and ensure that all necessary paperwork is tracked, signed and filed.
Other conditions sellers are looking for in their agent but may not necessarily voice out loud are:
- Reputation of agent -
for 31% of sellers, the reputation of an agent precedes them, making it vital for professionals to maintain a good rapport and communication with previous clients, well beyond the final point-of-sale.
- Local knowledge -
sellers may have lived in the area for years but agents will know the local customs, transfer taxes and closing costs, etc. Because 70% of all sellers in the US move within the same state, being able to demonstrate a real grasp of local knowledge can go far.
- Technology & Accessibility -
For a small but growing percentage of sellers, ‘100% accessibility’ from a smartphone or tablet was one of the most important factors in choosing their agent, and it just goes to show changing consumer trends in a digital-intensive world. It requires agents more than ever to invest in a robust CRM system to keep track of all communications. It’s also important to note that in the year that COVID-19 has drastically affected industries across the board, sellers who sold after March 2020 were more likely to use technology as a marketing tool, with 27% using virtual tours, (it was 16% prior), a trend that many agents have also started to adopt this year.
Honesty - At 19%, this proved to be a greater factor than agent commission (4%) for sellers in making their decision. This is not just about an agent’s expertise or knowledge of the industry, but touches on something that echoes the more human aspect of the homebuying/selling experience. It requires agents to exhibit transparency and trustworthiness, to not express empty or grandiose promises, but to be straightforward in setting realistic expectations. Sellers may experience disappointment at not being able to reach their preconceived pricing, but will appreciate full disclosure from the beginning more.