What is the role of a real estate agent?

Even though the advance of the internet is unstoppable and has facilitated the search for a property, the benefits of hiring a real estate agent (also referred to as a sales negotiator in the UK or a realtor in the United States) to sell your home remain.

An estate agent typically acts on behalf of a seller and is responsible for promoting and subsequently selling a property to a customer.

When you hire an estate agent you pay for his expertise and experience in valuing your property at the right price and to oversee the sales process from start to finish. Not only that, but you are also paying his fee to access the market through his database and marketing skills, which he has been building up for many years.

It is important that you choose the right estate agent to sell your home. Many sellers request a number of valuations prior to selecting an estate agent. Most will decide to go along with the agent with the highest appraisal, however that’s not always the right decision to make. When your home hits the market and if the price is perceived as too high by potential buyers, it will result in a lack of interest and viewing requests. If it then remains unsold, potential buyers may lose interest because they believe that there is a problem with the property and therefore it does not sell. You will then have to reduce the price, which is not always the best message to send out. Therefore it is important to carefully assess the various appraisals before listing your home on the market. You should also ask your estate agent for comparable properties which have recently been sold in the area and further local market information (price per m2, number of properties currently for sale etc.) before determining the asking price. The market trends section of this website is also a good starting point to get a first impression of the market.

When you first meet with an estate agent it is important that you learn about the geographical area he covers, the price range of the properties he is currently selling and his experience. Finding the right agent is half the work to achieve a successful sale. The Agent Directory will give you an overview of agents, their locations and portfolios.

The main role of an estate agent is to manage the sales process, which includes:

  • Valuation of the property and assessing the right asking price
  • Market your home to achieve the maximum price, through the use of:
    • Internet: real estate portals and his own website
    • Direct mailings (email + post)
    • Window ads in his local office
    • Advertisements (newspapers, magazines etc.)
    • 'For sale sign' at your property
  • Negotiate the sale of the property with potential buyers as per the instructions as agreed with the seller
  • Liaise with the notary when the terms have been agreed to make sure that the sale can proceed
  • Building and maintaining relationship with all parties involved throughout the sales process

In most cases, an estate agent will only be remunerated if he achieves a successful sale. Commission fees vary among estate agents. Therefore please make sure that you know exactly how much commission you will have to pay, what is included/excluded and if there are any additional conditions.