Selling your property: What to look for in a broker

Selling your property takes considerable effort, time, and know-how. Unless adequately done, sellers may not readily attain their desired price. What should you do?

Engaging a broker or an agent

Enlisting a real estate broker or agent is the fastest and best way to sell your property. However, selecting one is also tricky.

Selling your property entails hiring the right person, with the proper qualifications, positive customer attitude, and excellent network. Unfortunately, not everyone who offers to sell your property has the necessary skills, can work out a proper selling plan, or balance the “emotional quotient” between the buyer and seller.

An experienced broker or agent should be tapped to handle the listing of the property and dealing with potential buyers. His/her clear understanding of how to bridge the parties is needed so that you will have the confidence that the right buyer will be selected, and the best deal achieved.

Understanding the basics

Prior to any listing, it is important for an agent or broker to determine the property rights of the seller as well as the details of the property he/she will be selling. He/she should request a copy of the owner’s duplicate title and real estate tax declaration to verify their authenticity, ascertain if the property taxes are updated, and determine what can or cannot be built on the subject lot, assuming the land is vacant. He/she should also request site photos, if possible, and ask to be allowed to inspect the property.

A veteran agent or broker would inquire about his seller’s price expectation, non-negotiable terms, and expected disposition timeline while suggesting to the seller to set realistic goals. The issue of the commission and how the broker is to be compensated must not be set aside.

Data privacy

To create a sense of confidentiality, given data privacy and identity theft are currently of great concern, the agent or broker should take pains in presenting and explaining to the seller, the need for both seller and potential buyers to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) prior to providing the other party with a photocopy of any document.

The NDA must contain provisions requiring prospective buyers to adhere to and keep the seller’s identity and property information private, and not disclose them to third parties, most especially when the planned transaction does not push through.

Screening prospective buyers

An excellent agent or broker is expected to attract a large number of prospective buyers from his property listing and network of colleagues. Thus, he/she should cursorily check these buyers’ background, where they live, and whether they own other properties or has any investment.

While these seem rudimentary, they are meant to filter out pseudo-buyers who are not genuinely interested in buying nor have the financial capacity to own one. An enhanced method of identifying serious buyers would be to ask for earnest money or a reservation fee.

Fostering the buyer-seller relationship

Once “qualified” buyers are found, meet-ups are very crucial. However, the agent or broker should prioritize them according to their sequence of confirmation. The key is to keep prospective buyers aware of the whole process and to keep them interested despite any potential delay in the actual meeting with the seller.

Beyond that initial feel-good experience, the seller and buyer should be cautioned about raising their expectations unexpectedly. Candidly, they should be warned that the first meeting may not immediately nor necessarily result in an agreement.

A skillful agent or broker will endeavor and make the meeting as pleasant as possible, achieving short wins to lessen the impact of any early differences on the terms of the transaction. To move the conversation forward, an old-hand agent or broker will help address any concerns about differing price appreciation and recommend other concessions as the price is not everything.

A helpful agent or broker will encourage transparency in the discussion, explain the transaction process, remind the parties about the need to adhere to the NDA, and cautiously set a decision deadline especially when there are other parties who are also interested in the same property.

Closing the sale

The parties need to feel that they will be happy with the deal’s outcome. They should realize that the whole process, from deciding to sell or buy, to selecting a broker, to discussing and negotiating the offer, and finally closing the transaction, was smooth and a congenial experience.

When there is no agreement, the parties should be able to walk away, aware of the learning experiences they went through are part of the negotiation process, and that they will have another opportunity to secure a deal in the future, and hopefully will no longer encounter similar hitches.

In the end, the agent or broker should handle the sales documentation and make it simple so the agreed terms can easily be reflected therein, and quick closure can be attained soonest.

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Henry L. Yap is an Architect, Environmental Planner, Real Estate Practitioner, and former Senior Lecturer