News Corporation real estate columnist Andrew Winter. Source: Supplied
DO you trust your real estate agent? Do you really? If you are not selling right now, have you trusted your agent in the past?
Before I continue, I must establish I was an agent for 25 years - but now I am a free man and can truly comment without bias.
I also fully acknowledge that like any profession there are good and bad. In the world of real estate there is certainly very good, but then there are also a number who arguably should consider leaving the profession, as people and property are just not their thing (or maybe it was their thing back in 1993).
There are also a small number who flounder their way through a career path, by luck and the support of other more talented colleagues.
Real estate agents are generally normal people. They too are homebuyers, sellers, and investors just like you. Most are hard working, forced to answer the phone 24 hours a day, any day of the year, spend half or more of their working week totally unpaid, offering free advice, showing homes to people who don't buy, appraising homes that don't get listed, spending days negotiating a deal only to have a party withdraw.
They have so much legislation they have to adhere to, constant legal updates to be aware of and the chance of getting sued if they step out of line in so many facets of their working day.
It is no easy career option.
Big commissions do happen for some, but not most, and the volume and regularity of that income is unpredictable while the modern, hi-tech buying and selling public want their agents on line and on the phone now even if that is in the middle of an evening meal on the their day off.
One very common hurdle agents have to jump is the trust barrier. Agents get the best results for their clients when there is mutual trust.
I understand that you may be wary of agents, but how many times have you said you would call an agent back, or attend an auction, or inspection or want to reinspect only to never do that?
Or not even bother to let the agent know of your changed position, not replied to their calls or emails, leaving them totally confused and with clients asking them what went wrong?
You may have stated clearly you would happily sell for $500,000, you are offered that, then change your mind and change your agent thinking you can do better - only to resell with the other agents at $490,000 three months later.
It can be easily argued that trust is an issue for agents … they sometimes have difficulty trusting you.
It is vital to select and work with only agents you are comfortable with and feel you can trust, as you need sometimes to listen to their advice and act on it.
Imagine, they could actually be right.
The only reason you are not prepared to trust an agent is that you think they will trick you into taking a lower offer or they may let you down with levels of service. Concerns I fully understand, but did you know every agency has to have a written complainants procedure - a copy of which you can ask for?
Once you have selected an agent on the basis of their track record, character, knowledge and how you feel you will work together, then please trust them.
Now that doesn't mean sit back and do nothing, accepting everything you are told, you are supposed to be in a partnership.
Ask questions, express your concerns and complain if you feel you need to.
Good agents thrive on their positive reputation so selling your home for under market value or failing to provide the services you expected is not going to help their career enhancement.
Please choose your agent carefully, then allow yourself to trust them. But this will only work if you constantly communicate and always express your concerns in advance.
Stewing over issues that the agent has no idea about could result in miscommunications. Ask questions and if the answers are contrary to what you believe, ask for clarification. You are a team and a team without trust is not likely to head for success.
A final tip, if an agent feels he can trust you too, that mutual trust will make this potentially stressful process a lot easier.