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Tips on Picking a Real Estate Agent - From Short List to Final Choice of Agent

Updated on January 22, 2018
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Peter has never worked in Real Estate however has been involved in buying and selling properties for over 50 years.


It is 'SOLD'
It is 'SOLD'

Short List

In our efforts to find the best Real Estate Agent to sell our house or property we have finally got this far and have not as yet officially spoken to an Agent ( that in itself is stress free).

If you would like to catch up with getting to this point you may like to read these article first:

Preliminaries to selecting a Real Estate Agent.

Making a Short List in Selecting a Real Estate Agent

Just a little side story on the image to the right. This was actually a 'Sold' notice going up on our property. Quite prematurely as it turned out. The deposit was never forthcoming and the Real Estate Agents had to re-list the property. Now that's a story for another time!

If you have had a similar experience with Agents or Realtors and would like to share the story just drop a line in the comments boxes down at the bottom of this article.

Working on Our short list

At this point we have narrowed our list of prospective agents down to three see the diagram. And we know a certain amount of information about each one without a 'one on one'.

Well it is now time to narrow that list down to the Final Real Estate Agent who will handle the sale of your precious property.

But first let's recap! What do we know about each Real Estate Office, generally we know from our list that the each candidate has:

  • A National Network of Office
  • A membership of the relevant Real Estate Association
  • Has very friendly and helpful Reception / Assistants in their Office
  • Some have personal references
  • What I would call a team of Sales People willing to sell your house / property
  • Good Internet presence. I regard this as very important.

Well now it is time to get personal and select the individual that we want to sell our house and be the only contact that we have at the office. I will explain why I do this later! (See #1 below)

Our Short List

You should have a short list something like this one. (this is an actual list that I used , names have been changed)
You should have a short list something like this one. (this is an actual list that I used , names have been changed)


Now the fun begins :)

We have narrowed the field down to what on paper looks like the three best Real Estate Agents Offices. Also if you have been following my tips there will usually be only one name popping out at you from each Real Estate Office!

The next step is to make appointments to meet these individual agents. I always consider it better to bring the Agent to your home for the following reasons:

  • You get a first impression. First Impression to me are very important and, I have found especially with women, are very seldom wrong.
  • When you meet the agent you can put yourself in the position of a potential purchaser and secretly judge if you would buy a house from this person. Watch the 'body language' as he inspects 'your' property.
  • I like to meet Real Estate Agents one on one in the location of my choosing, and the best place is normally my House.
  • Be very careful if there are two or more coming to visit, they will invariably 'tag team' you to get you off guard. (In my past dealings I have never selected the 'tag team' as my Final Agent)
  • Be up front and tell them that you are not going to disclose your 'previously prepared' figure that you want for your House until they have disclosed what they think your property is worth.
  • In fact, in my perfect scenario you only disclose this price to the final choice(see #2 below for non-disclosure explanation).

The Final List

We now draw out a small list, this time with only the Final three agents names on the list and we get down to a personal level. Things like:

  • Appearance. Does he look like a 'Professional' person. Purchasers may form a bad first impression and look elsewhere for a house before even looking at yours.
  • Attitude. Check them out and make sure they are not patronizing and condescending Does he come across as honest and hard working?
  • Would you buy a house from this person? Remember, to sell your property they have to deal with a purchaser!
  • Presentation: any agent worth his salt will give you a presentation of just what his company will offer when they have listed your property for sale.
  • What type of Selling do they advocate for your House or Property, (Auction, Private Sale, Set Price etc.) Ask them to explain the differences and why they made the choice they are advocating.
  • Price. What the Agent thinks your property is worth based on their research.
  • Commission rate. Do they work on a 'no sale - no fee' basis? and what sort of % of selling price is their fee. (might range from 2 - 6 % )
  • Advertising. What sort of advertising do they do and how much are the 'Packages'
  • On your list put down any question you have about the procedure of selling eg: Do I have to have 'Open for Inspection Days'. Can I take the Cubby House etc..

Your list would look something like the sample one I have drawn up below. Feel free to copy it and modify it however you like.

Sample List to Evaluate Real Estate Agent

Name of agent
Mathew Smith / My Best RE Office
Mark Brown / 2nd Best RE Office
Luke Samson /My 3rd Best RE Office
4 the best Agent
black suit- neat -
White shirt - untidy looked frazzled
Neat black suit - came with assistant/ trainee?
friendly - seems genuine
Friendly but seemed forced almost too nice
Seemed to be showing off / patronising
Buy a house from Agent
yes no problem
Maybe but would be careful
I don't think I would get to viewing stage
Presentation or Company
good clear cut left package early to read
Nothing other than business card
Small brochure and business card
What Type of Sale
Would not sugges auction- private sale only
Private sale only - hates Auctions
Wanted to Auction
$579,000 (showed figures of local sales)
Definitely get $650,00
Has to do reseach but around the $600,00 mark
Terms they suggest for sale
10% deposit / Balance 90 days
10% deposit / Balance 90 -120 days
See what puchaser wants ?
2.5% on selling price (no sale - no fee)
3% negotiable
$650 - suggested package
Flat fee $700
No Package we work it out as we go
Length of Contract
would like 90 days to sell property
Wants 90 days
90 - 120 days
Questions for agents
Length of contract
It is negotiable
not negotiable
Very vague Whatever we want?
Can I take Cubby house
It can be put in the contract to be removed
If it is cemented in it must stay
Just cut it off at the ground
Open for Inspection days
Vendors choice of Y/N
Yes must do!
Easy on that ?

All characters and figures in this table are purely fictional and are meant to be taken as an example of how the form is laid out

#1 - Listing and Selling Agent

I advised you earlier that I always select the same Real Estate Agent to 'List' and to 'Sell' my property. I do this for a number of reasons:

Primarily I want to only deal with one person in the Real Estate Office preferably a fully qualified agent so if there are any problems (believe me you will be very lucky to get through a deal without some hic-cups) you can contact your agent and discuss the problem in depth.

Another reason is the 'commission' structure. Over the years I have discovered that the commission paid on selling a house is broken up in at least three ways:

  • Real Estate Office
  • Listing Agent
  • Selling Agent

My reasoning here is that I want the selling agent to work very hard for me in selling my house. One way to get someone to work hard is to give them the opportunity to earn more money, therefore if the same Real Estate Agent both 'Lists' and 'Sells' your property he will collect both shares of the Commission!

#2 - Non-Disclosure of Price to Real Estate Agent

Here is my reasoning on only your final choose of Real Estate Agent should know the Price that you want for your valuable property:

  • If you tell them what you feel your house is worth it may very well influence the price that is in their mind. Remember they are the 'experts' and should know the state of the market better than you and what you are looking for is an accurate, honest, unaffected appraisal!
  • The other reason you do not disclose your hidden price to all of the agents is that the Agents you do not choose will know what you expect to get for your house. This could be handy information for them to use if they are trying to sell another property against yours!

Final Choice of Real Estate Agent

By now you should have interviewed all of the Real Estate Agents on your Short list and kept a record of your impressions both personal and business attitudes.
It's no good trying to work with someone if there will be a personality clash!

With your list beside you and with a trusty cup of coffee sit down in a nice quite corner with your partner or a trusted friend and evaluate the numbers and your own impressions of each Real Estate Agent.

When you have decided who you would like to sell your property, invite them back and then discuss the price and final conditions of the sale. This way you will have become much more educated on the whole process of Selling your house.

This is the point where you disclose your Price. Keep in mind, going on what you have learned during the process, you can still modify you price at any time.

If you have any tips of your own or any questions on the subject please feel free to leave a comment below! (Any irrelevant or abusive comment are moderated)

Just remember, You stay in control of the Real Estate Agent, he is working for your the 'vendor' not the 'purchaser'

Good Luck !!!

Have you ever had problems with Real Estate Agents or Realtors ?

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© 2011 Peter


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