What is fair and reasonable when you are weighing up expectations for your real estate agent?

I mean we all make assumptions of our phone company ( Get good reception… Not have to wait on hold for twenty minutes) and of our schools (Nurture and protect our children, help with socialisation. Educate, right?) but what are our expectations of a real estate agent?

Mostly I think it’s the Do Unto Others policy.

Just treat others as you wish to be treated.

  1. It’s reasonable to expect they will give you good advice regarding the presentation of your home.

We agents have seen hundreds of houses, probably many many more than you have, and we should have a good idea of what is, and what isn’t, desirable to a buyer. And more importantly, what is not acceptable to a buyer, which is a completely different thing.

Obviously this depends on the home. A buyer seeking a luxurious home in a multi-million dollar price bracket will have different expectations than a first-time home owner at the lower end of the price spectrum.

Expect your agent – or a good agent – to help guide you. Generally neutral colours are desirable.  Holes in walls, bad smells and dangerous structures are not. And for the love of Moses, get rid of those bad smells!

  1. It’s fair to expect they will hire a professional to take photos of your house.

     Gone are the days of happy snaps on an iPhone.  If all of your competition -that’s what all the other properties on the market are to your house-  if all the competition hires a professional photographer and your agent clicks a quick shot of the bedroom on his phone, which photo do you think the buyer will gravitate to on the internet?

Even subconsciously they will choose the well balanced, light adjusted professional shot. And videos are now a compelling and cost-effective way to showcase a desirable house.  Expect this to should be an option available to you. And not just a series of still photos spliced together with music. That’s not a video.  That’s a series of still photos spliced together. (With music.)

  1. It’s fair to expect they will expose your property to the greatest possible market, within the confines of your budget.

If you are able to pay for a sky writer to spell out the address and inspection times, great!  But the vast majority of clients simply want their house exposed on the internet, in print ads, some people want sign boards outside, a video, some flyers distributed, an active data base contacted in a timely manner.

 Pretty much, where they themselves look for property when they are searching.  A knowledgeable agent should guide you here.  It’s not the same for every home and you should expect your agent to tailor the marketing to your house and budget.

  1. It’s reasonable to expect your agent will protect your asset (and all the little assets lying around).

When welcoming others into your home, its fair that you should have an expectation of due diligence and that the potential buyer is not walking around with a spray can and marking all the walls.  Similarly, that the same stranger is not riffling through your drawers or pilfering your jewellery box.

You would rightly assume that your agent is paying attention to who comes through the house, taking names and contact details and is monitoring their behaviour.    I mean, obviously don’t leave $50 notes on the counter top or your diamond earrings on the bathroom bench.


Let’s be smart about this. Your agent should ask someone to finish their dripping ice cream before they go in, and to rein in those four running and screaming rambunctious pre-schoolers. (Honestly, who goes house shopping with four kids under the age of five? Find a babysitter for three hours!  And if you have four under five and find a baby sitter, you might choose a nap or a pint or two of wine instead of an open house.)

  1. When the agent receives an enquiry, it’s fair to expect they will contact those enquiries within a reasonable amount of time and accelerate that interest.

It would not be fair to expect your agent to go to the house at six o’clock on a Sunday morning or 10:30pm at night to accommodate a buyer who can’t be bothered to give up their lunchtime to view the property. But emails and phone calls?  Its fair to assume your agent will contact those buyers in a timely manner- say within a couple of hours. (We do sometimes have other business to attend to.)

And inspections? Sure, sometimes it’s possible to accommodate after hours inspections but most agents also have lives outside of their career.  It’s true I have responded to an online enquiry at 1:05am but frankly that was more to do with a movie marathon ending at that time, than a regular enquiry check-up.

  1. I think it’s fair to expect that if you interview and hire “X agent” then THAT is who you are hiring.

Sure, all successful agents have people on staff to help manage paperwork or assist with back end admin work.  But to meet all buyers, attend all open houses, negotiate all offers? – that’s your agents job!

Not to sign you up under false pretenses, then fob you off to all the minions while they rush off and sign up the next one.  Even writing the description… How can someone who has never stepped into your house, adequately describe the benefits of your particular property.

So for me, I think it’s fair to expect that your hired agent is the face of your property.  (This is a contentious issue with the bigger agents –  they will suggest that when you have a medical problem the surgeon is the one who does the actual surgery and a big team does all the rest.  But this is not brain surgery.  And one poor comment made by an assistant, or a badly run, sloppy open house, can cost you thousands.  Or the right buyer.Make sure you get the person you hired.

  1. The greatest asset your agent brings to you is their ability to negotiate, it is fair to expect they will negotiate like Mandela on your behalf!

True, we are not trying to stop war or free people, but a good agent should be able to negotiate to achieve an extra little bit of gravy on top of the meat and veg.  $1,000, $22,000 or $63,000 – this push to extract the last few dollars is what separates a good agent from a sign stuck in your front garden saying ‘For Sale by Owner’.

And don’t be fooled but the budget companies that have sprung up. Many charge a flat fee and could care less if you get $50,000 lower than market value. And how would you ever know?


I once sold a house for $1,617,250.   The extra $17,250 made little difference to the buyer once it was added to his home loan, but made a lot of difference to the seller who was retiring and moving to his last home.  The buyer should walk away feeling like they got a good property, not a great deal.

Your property is most likely your biggest asset  (besides your children of course).  Your service expectations should be met, possibly exceeded.  A good agent cannot change the market to get you a fabulous price – but they should be able to effectively manage the process to get you a fabulous result.

Why settle for anything less?





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