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10 Jul

The things you should (and shouldn’t) tell your real estate agent

People always have advice and opinions about real estate agents. They'll tell you real estate agents are slippery characters. Not to be trusted. There are always stories.

So when you list with an agent it's hard to know what you should tell them, and what you shouldn't. Whether you can trust them with certain information, or not.

The things you should (and shouldn’t) tell your real estate agent

But let's face it, assuming you've done your due diligence choosing an agent, you're unlikely to choose a slippery character. So how do you play it? What should (or shouldn't) you tell them?

Here's my advice.

What NOT to tell your real estate agent

# Don't tell them too much until you've signed up

Before signing up with an agent you'll no doubt meet with a few before you decide who you're best to work with. But during this process, be careful about what you say. Let the agent do most of the talking. Let them tell you how much they think your house is worth. Don't be too cagey, but until you've signed an agreement, sharing too much information about yourself, your home and your financial situation with a prospective agent is a bad idea. You may not end up working with them. Give them just enough information - not too little, but not too much.

# Don't tell them your bottom dollar price

Once you've signed with an agent, you'll discuss and agree on a price range appraisal that you think your house will likely sell for.

You'll also need to work out your absolute bottom dollar price. The point at which any lower and you're prepared to lose the sale. This is usually around the bottom end of the appraisal. But keep that number to yourself.

A good agent will be focussed on getting a sale for you at the top end of your range.

What TO tell your real estate agent 

# Be honest about the reason you're selling

If you'd rather not let people know why you're moving because it could put you at a disadvantage (perhaps it's because of a divorce, or illness) then discuss that with your agent. Don't be cagey about why you're selling. If the agent understands your position they can work out a plan of how to address the issue with potential buyers. Because people ALWAYS ask. If you're open with your agent they'll have ways of dealing with it that doesn't put you, or them, in a difficult position.

# Be upfront about any problems with the property

You are legally obliged to disclose any issues with your property to your agent and your agent is legally obliged to pass that information onto any potential buyers. The agent is in contract with you the seller and will always work on your behalf. However, they have an obligation to treat the buyer fairly, including not withholding, or giving inaccurate, information.

But beyond any legal implications, there are the practical ones. Be frank about any issues with your property. Your agent can advise the best way to deal with it, with a view to getting the best possible sale result for you. It's always best to be proactive in these matters rather than reactive

Always remember that legally, your listing agent is obligated to represent only your interests in all negotiations, once you sign an agreement with them. This obligation is called "fiduciary duty," and should keep your agent from interacting with buyers in a way that compromises your final sale price. See the REAA Working with a real estate agent

Rodney Fong is a Licensed Salesperson and Auctioneer working with clients throughout Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and Papamoa.

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