How to compare potential real estate agents
Blog > How to compare real estate agents
clock 6 mins

How to compare real estate agents

If you want to sell your house, ensuring you work with the right real estate agent is a critical step to saving you money and stress. By doing your research, you can ensure you get the most value from your agent in terms of a higher sale price and top-notch service. 

In this article, we share the 9 steps you should take when selecting agents and how to choose the most suitable agent for you. We explain what characteristics to look for and how to compare fees to ensure you receive the most value at the end of the deal.


1. Create a list of agents

Come up with a list of at least three local real estate agents. Consider the following: 

  • Agents you’ve worked with previously
  • Recommendations from friends and family
  • Agents you’ve seen on local billboards and newsletters

You can simply enter “real estate agent near me” or “real estate agents NZ” into Google to get the highest-ranking options. Another way to find a reputable agent is by taking note of sold signs in your neighbourhood – if an agent has successfully sold other properties like yours, chances are they’ll do the same for you.


2. Background checks

Now that you have a list of agents, it’s time to compare their reputations and qualifications. 

Check the public register of agents in the Real Estate Authority database. You can check each agent’s license and see if they have had any complaints in the past three years. 

We also recommend checking their sales record for the past few months or years. Take a look at the number of properties they have sold and the selling price for each. They should be able to prove their experience in a challenging market, ideally with properties similar to yours. You can do this by checking their Facebook page or their webpage, where they may share recently sold houses.


3. Read testimonials and reviews

When choosing an agent, the cost is only part of the equation. It’s also worth hearing what previous clients have to say about an agent. Whether it be a rave review or a negative experience, it helps to know exactly what your agent was like to work with from an objective point of view. 

We recommend reading online reviews and testimonials, or even asking to speak with a previous vendor. Take note of what clients say about the agent’s communication, market knowledge, professionalism, transparency, and marketing strategy. If they have a particularly low rating, look elsewhere. 


4. Request property appraisals

Next, arrange property appraisals or valuations from your shortlisted real estate agents. The more you get, the more informed you’ll be about your property’s value and the expertise of each agent. An appraisal not only indicates the home’s value but also allows you to assess how comfortable you feel working with an agent. 

An appraisal is based on the home’s basic features, location, and recent sales data in your area. The agent will draw on their market knowledge and real estate experience to determine an accurate price. 

Once you have all of the appraisals, calculate the midpoint value to determine an average. If one appraisal is much higher or lower than the rest, ask the agent to explain why. An overblown estimate can indicate an agent is baiting you into signing but the risk is that offers won’t line up with these inflated expectations.


5. Ask about previous sales

Ask each agent about their three most recent sales and how the initial appraisals lined up with the final sale price. This is your opportunity to assess how accurate appraisals are in relation to the current market. 

This is especially helpful if you can speak to the vendor. That way, you can compare what the vendor says with what the agent says – if they don’t align, the agent may be hiding something. 


6. Calculate commission fees

Before you decide on an agent, you need to know what you’ll pay them. While some agents charge an upfront fixed fee, it is more common in New Zealand to be charged a commission on the property sale price. 

The commission can be determined by either a set percentage or a tiered percentage. For example, McDonald Real Estate charges a base fee of $530 plus 4% for the first $350,000 and 2.5% + GST for the remainder. This incentivises the agent to work harder and attract higher offers, which benefits both of you. 

Once you know the commission fee of your agent, you can calculate the estimated fee using the appraisal midpoint.


7. Add extra fees

On top of the commission, the vendor usually pays additional fees during the sale. For example, some agencies charge auctioneers’ costs. 

The seller is also responsible for paying for most of the advertising and staging costs, known as Vendor Paid Advertising (VPA). This can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars so make sure you have specified these costs in a written agreement. 


8. Compare prices

Refer back to your list of agents and specify the following: 

  • Commission
  • Vendor Paid Advertising
  • Administrative fees

Add them together for each agent to get a rough total cost. Using these totals, compare the agents to determine the most competitive deal. Remember, the lowest fees may not correspond to the highest value so consider the agent’s experience, skills, and experience too. 

Once you’ve chosen an agent you’re happy with, ask what happens after the offer expires. Avoid any contracts containing a clause that requires you to continue paying commission after you’ve changed to another agent. 


9. Consider offers

Once you’ve signed the contract, the agent will arrange all the advertising and present you with offers from prospective buyers. If no appropriate offers come through, the agent will re-run advertising and open homes, with a revised deadline or tender date. 

It’s normal for a house to be re-advertised so don’t worry if it takes a few attempts to get a suitable offer. However, you may want to consider investing in a better marketing campaign or a professional staging service to increase your chances. If an offer is close to what you need, the agent may consider lowering the commission to complete the sale.

If your first-choice agent doesn’t bring the results you were looking for, you can switch to another one from your list. Just make sure to check your contract so you don’t end up paying twice the commission.


Why choose McDonald Real Estate?

If you need a reliable real estate agent in Taranaki, the experienced team at McDonald Real Estate can help. We’re committed to offering a seamless experience for our clients, using our decades of experience in the local market. 

All McDonald Real Estate salespeople are fully licensed by the Real Estate Authority (REA) and have a National Certificate in Real Estate at Level 4 or higher. You can see our full list of McDonald Real Estate testimonials on our website or reach out to us to speak with a previous client. 

The key benefits of working with us include:

  • Accurate valuations.
  • A large network of buyers.
  • Effective advertising packages.
  • An easy experience.
  • 8 convenient offices.
  • 111+ years of local experience.

To find out about our commission rates and get a free appraisal, contact us today. We’ll share our local expertise to provide personalised advice tailored to your situation. 


Get a free appraisal ›

June 20, 2023
How to compare real estate agents
If you want to sell your house, ensuring you work with the right real estate agent is a...
Read full post
May 24, 2023
How to sell your home in a cooling market
Is the market crashing? It’s the question on every homeowner's mind as house prices drop...
Read full post
May 4, 2023
What is a Rateable Value (RV)?
Rateable value (RV) is an essential metric used in real estate across New Zealand. In the...
Read full post