• LoanCaddie

How realistic is the agent’s appraisal?

Real estate agents are in the business of selling. Yes, selling houses, but also selling to potential vendors. They want to nab you as a client, and they know you’re looking for the best dollars.

Buyers will take a far less passionate view of your property than you do. Every property needs to find the right combination of buyer and price. But even if your place is long in the tooth, in need of a reno or still showing battles scars from the housewarming party back in 2011, someone will be keen at the right figure.

Arriving at that figure is the real challenge. That’s why you need a real estate agent who will provide an accurate valuation, not just the one you want to hear. Someone with their ear to the ground. Someone who can read buyers’ minds. Most importantly, someone who can actually achieve the sale.

Go for agents with runs on the board

It’s always a good idea to get appraisals from a few agents. This isn’t just about finding the right price – you also need an agent who can actually sell the property. Stick with agents who are really making sales. ‘Sold’ stickers will be a fair guide of their strike rate, but you can also check out recent private and auction sales online. Don’t be afraid to ask how sale prices compared to their listed ranges.

Ask to see the working-out

Don’t take the appraisals at face value – ask the agent how they arrived at the figure. What factors have they taken into account? A realistic price will be based on things like access to local amenities, proximity to schools and transport, the aspect of your garden and recent sales of similar properties.

Be wary of an agent who drums up an appraisal without anything concrete. A good one will justify their valuation with clear evidence and be happy to share it with you.

Don’t be dazzled by big dollars

Whether you’re hoping for a bigger budget for your next home or a boost to your retirement nest egg, you want the best possible price for your property. Agents may be tempted to inflate the appraisal to win your listing. Don’t automatically accept the biggest carrot. Averaging out the three valuations you’ve requested can help you arrive at a more realistic figure and avoid disappointment in the long-run.

Crunch some numbers of your own

Some agents offer free appraisals as a way to get a foot in the proverbial door. You’re under no obligation to take their word for it – and it pays to do your own research.

Statements of Information are freely available, so take the time to look. Most importantly, look at how the actual sales prices compare to what was advertised. Are agents getting the numbers they promised? Has the market slowed in your area? Are your valuations based on realistic data?

You should feel confident having faith in your agent. Look for someone who knows what they’re talking about and can back up their claims with solid evidence. Once the board is up, listen to their advice. If the market is changing, be flexible. If other properties have come up for sale around you, the value of your place might change.

Go in with an open mind. Be willing to negotiate and the right buyer will come along.