Guide to selling your property

How to find a good real estate agent and avoid the pitfalls.
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02.Shadow shop results

  CHOICE’S Shadow shop of estate agents' market value assessments
First agent Second agent Third agent Range of estimates Biggest range of estimates from the same agent Advertised price Sold for
Seller 1 (A) Maybe $500s Mid $500,000s $500,000–$550,000 $50,000 $50,000 $520,000 $469,000
Seller 2 High $300s, low $400s $410,000–$450,000 $430,000–$460,000 $70,000 $40,000 $390,000+ $440,000
Seller 3 $350,000 Low to mid $400s $375,000–$395,000 $100,000 $50,000 $420,000 $398,000
Seller 4 $215,000 $220,000–$225,000 $215,000–$219,000 $10,000 $5,000 Decided not to sell Not applicable
Seller 5 $550,000–$650,000 $635,000–$645,000 $480,000–$580,000 $170,000 $100,000 $640,000 Hasn't sold yet
Seller 6 $400,000–$420,000 $380,000–$400,000 $430,000–$450,000 $70,000 $20,000 Decided not to sell Not applicable
Seller 7 Low to mid $400s $390,000–$410,000 $400,000 $60,000 $50,000 Not advertised. Sold privately  $435,000
Seller 8 $320,000–$340,000 $245,000–$260,000 $200,000 $140,000 $20,000 Decided not to sell Not applicable
Seller 9 (B) $880,000–$900,000 $750,000–$800,000 $850,000–$880,000 $150,000 $50,000 $870,000 Hasn't sold yet
Seller 10 $850,000–$890,000 $950,000–$1 million $925,000–$975,000 $150,000 $50,000 $950,000 $960,000


Table notes

Our assumption is that 'low $400s', for example, means $400,000 or slightly higher, 'mid $400s' means $450,000, and 'high $400s' means around $490,000.

(A) A fourth agent didn’t provide a figure. A fifth agent gave an estimate in the high $400,000s.
(B) A fourth agent gave an estimate of $850,000 to $900,000.

Properties can be undervalued too

The range of estimates received can also be due to agents underestimating the value of your property. There’s a risk that some agents are looking for a quick, easy sale and commission. But unfamiliarity with your property or area, or poor judgment, could be other reasons for a low estimate. This shows the importance of getting a second, third, even fourth opinion, and ensuring you include local agents. One CHOICE shadow shopper, for example, says one agent grossly underestimated his property.

Shadow shoppers' tips

We asked CHOICE’s shadow shoppers for their tips about choosing an agent, after their meetings and interviews. Here are some of their responses:

  • “Know the market and don’t just rely on the gloss the agents present. Do as much research as you can in the six months leading up to sale.“
  • “We had all documents checked by our solicitor before signing them.”
  • “You can barter on the agent’s commission.”
  • “Check the agent’s membership of a professional association and that the agent is certified.”
  • “Get a local agent. Our impression was that an agent from a different suburb undervalued our property, as he hadn’t much sales experience in the area.”
  • “A sales pitch isn’t worth much unless it’s backed up by solid evidence and a trusting rapport with the agent.”
  • “Vendors must know what their property is worth before going with an agent, and if the potential agent’s valuation is way under or way over the known worth, steer clear of that agent!”

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