As a real estate agent, I’m well aware of the lack of respect some buyers and sellers have for our profession.

Sometimes their scepticism is for good reason. There are agents that have done a great disservice to both their own reputation and the reputation of real estate agents generally, through using underhanded tactics, telling their vendors and buyers half-truths or even stretching to outright lies.

But, in more than 20 years in the profession, I can safely say that while these kinds of agents do exist, they make up only a very small minority. Most agents simply aren’t like that. And the best ones will always tell it straight, even if you don’t want to hear it.

So, as a vendor, how do you tell if your real estate agent is trustworthy, or one of the bad few? Here are my tips:

1. Do they give you bad news?

It’s very easy just to tell a seller what they want to hear. For instance, that their home is worth more than it is, or that there are many warm leads when there are none. But this kind of approach almost always ends in disappointment, when, at the end of the sale process, the seller’s expectations aren’t met. A trustworthy agent deals in reality, not fiction. So, if you’re interviewing agents and one of them tells you your home is worth much more than the others, be cautious.

2. Do they update you?

Like in any relationship, good communication is the key to building trust with your agent. Selling a home is a detailed process, and you’re going to be talking to your agent pretty much daily, for some weeks. Decent agents keep you informed. They’re proactive in letting you know what’s happening with your property, and they don’t wait for you to call. That means letting you know who is interested, what they’re saying, as well as who is not interested and why.

3. Are they giving you constructive feedback?

An agent shouldn’t only be giving you facts – like the number the people who’ve attended an open, who’s contacted them or what offers they’ve received. They should also be letting you know how to interpret the feedback they’re receiving and what it’s likely to mean for your sale.

How much is my property worth

4. Do they arrive early (and leave late)?

In my experience, trustworthiness and work ethic usually go hand-in-hand. And, if you’ve entrusted a real estate agent to sell what is probably your biggest asset, they should be chasing down every lead they can, and going the extra mile. That means their team should be the first on the scene and last off it – so that they never miss a potential buyer.

5. Do they tell buyers the truth?

I’m a firm believer in that honesty breeds success. That doesn’t mean shouting every detail from the rooftops or being undiplomatic, but it does mean not lying to get your way – including to buyers. If a real estate agent lies to buyers, they’re just as likely to lie to you as well. So do your research on an agent before you engage them. Ask them questions – including about the guide price – and see if what they say checks out.

My team hope to build long-term relationships with our buyers and our vendors and help them at every stage of their property journey. Like all real estate agents, we simply couldn’t do this without drawing on our reputation for communication, transparency, knowledge and trust.

Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Market Snapshot

A detailed annual assessment of the property market focusing on the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Australia.

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