What does a real estate agent do?

If you're thinking about selling a home, you have likely considered engaging a real estate agent to guide you through the sales process. 

However, one of the questions that you may have as you approach a decision on this kind of arrangement is, "What does a real estate agent do for me, actually?" 

Broadly speaking, a good real estate professional can walk you through everything you need to know about the selling process, when you should consider putting your home on the market, how you might price your home, options for selling, and help you to assess your position through the selling process. 


What is a real estate agent, and what do they do? 

A real estate agent - also known as a sales agent, listing agent, or seller's agent - typically serves as your agent throughout the sales process, and also provides marketing services and can also provide assistance with preparing your home for sale. 

There can be a lot more to selling a home than putting a for-sale sign on the front lawn and waiting for offers to roll in. The property may need to be marketed effectively, the home might have to be arranged just-so to ensure it gets the best price, and all the necessary paperwork has to be fully prepared. 

Moreover, this all sometimes has to happen on a relatively tight timeline (based on your needs) in preparation for a property listing. 

That can be a lot of work to take on, which is why real estate agents are well-placed to assist. 


How many hours do real estate agents actually put in? 

While the amount of time a real estate agent puts into each home sale is difficult to estimate - after all, no two sales are exactly the same - most agents can often put in long hours a day on a regular basis and, when they're working with a client through a standard sales process, usually don't take a day off. 

That's not to say all their time is going to be spent on just your sale, as they will have other clients as well. But for the most part, any good real estate agent is spending multiple hours on your home sale every day from the start of the process through to settlement. 


The different duties of a buyer's agent vs. a seller's agent 

While "real estate agent" can sometimes be used interchangeably to refer to either a buyer's agent or seller's agent, it's most often used to refer to the latter. 

More broadly, you can refer to either as a "real estate professional." However, each one represents a respective side of a property sale. 


What does a real estate agent do when working with buyers? 

A buyer's agent will generally meet with shoppers before they start looking at homes to fully understand their situation, wants and needs. They will then keep an eye out for any homes that might be acceptable to their clients and advise them as they navigate through the sometimes-complicated buying process. 

A buyer's agent tries to get their clients the best possible outcome on a home that meets their needs and answers any questions as they arise. 

What does a real estate agent do when selling properties? 

A seller's agent will generally start by evaluating the property and home relative to the rest of the local market. They can then advertise the property online and in print, and otherwise try to get the word out that it's for sale. 

Once interest is generated, they can help their clients consider the best path forward. 

Can you really sell your property without a qualified and experienced agent? 

There are so many things that a seller's agent can do that may provide a huge benefit to their clients. 

For instance, your agent can provide insight into sales price information in your area and help market your home effectively to help generate interest. 

Most of the time, no one has deeper knowledge of or experience with the real estate industry in your area than a selling agent. As such, they can also help as you consider any prospective offers. 

When it comes time to sign on the dotted line and make the sale, a good real estate agent assists with the contracting process and can liaise with your conveyancer or solicitor. 

Can a real estate agent represent both the buyer and seller in a transaction? 

In rare cases, the same agent may represent both sides of a transaction, but this is very uncommon and requires both sides to agree. A so-called dual agent may find it difficult to serve both parties equally and fairly. 


Choosing the right agent 

Once you’ve decided to hire a real estate agent, you will need to choose one of the many agents operating in your area to represent you in the weeks or months ahead. 

This can certainly be a big decision, so you want to get it right. 


How can you increase the chances you will make the right choice in picking a real estate agent? 

To identify the right agent for your needs, you may have to do some research, choose a few that seem to align with what you're looking for, and have a meeting with them. 

There, you might want to ask about their qualifications and experience, as well as their views on your property, how you can improve its value and so on. If you have any questions at all, now may be the time to ask them. 

Once you have a good understanding and connection with a real estate agent, you can decide whether to engage them.


What a real estate agent costs 

One of the reasons some home owners sometimes choose not to engage a real estate agent is because they believe the cost to be too high. 


How much commission does a real estate agent make? 

Real estate agents can charge flat fees or commissions and all fees should be discussed with the agent before appointing them. 

In many parts of Australia, commission rates can vary and range from about 1.5% of your home's sales price to as much as 4%, depending on many factors. When dealing with transactions that typically start in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, the difference between those two numbers can add up to tens of thousands. 

In addition, sellers are also charged fees to cover a real estate agent's costs during the sale, including marketing and property preparation. These costs can vary and should be agreed with the agent in advance. 


If you are looking for more information about the mortgage and home buying processes, or how Lenders Mortgage Insurance can help you buy a home sooner, have a look at the "Information for home buyers" section on the Genworth website. Here at Genworth, we are committed to helping you on your home buying journey.