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ReMax of southern Africa advised property sellers to be cautious when selecting an agent. It said that going for the lowest commission is not necessarily the way to go.
ReMax was responding to a comment made recently by Estate Agency Affairs Board spokesman Clive Ashpol.
He urged sellers to understand that because no prescribed or recommended rate of commission exists, they should not allow themselves to be intimidated into thinking there was. This is a fact that any reputable estate agent would be prepared to back.
But the debate arises with Ashpol's further comment about commission. He encouraged sellers to "shop around before deciding which agent to go with".
The comment has caused heated debate between estate agents and sellers.
ReMax operation director Ronan McCool said: "This is like telling a person who needs an operation that they should choose a surgeon based on his rate rather than his level of medical skill."
Grant Gavin, broker and owner of ReMax Panache in Durban, said: "Ashpol is indeed correct in saying that commission is negotiable. But his underlying message is that sellers should select their agent based on who charges the least commission.
"At the end of the day, as with any profession, you pay more for good service."
Gavin said sellers should rather select an agent on the following sound business principles to ensure they contract a professional who will help them to negotiate the best possible price for their home in the least amount of time:
l Find out which agent will be able to bring the best "value adds" to the transaction;
l Ask what marketing strategy the agent proposes for the home;
l Ensure the agent is reputable and find out if he or she has a track record of consistent results in the area;
l Check out the company or the brand that the agent works for; and
l Ensure that the agent holds a valid fidelity fund certificate and is registered and is fully qualified to do the job.
Gavin said: "It's not just about commission. Top agents who have the ability to add value to a transaction by advising the seller on how they can obtain the highest possible price for their property will not need to cut their commission.
"Sellers will only be in a position to reliably select an agent based purely on their rate of commission when all agents offer the same value. After all, the very skill that an agent is contracted to deliver is their ability to negotiate the highest possible price for the seller."