The following is public information provided by the Real Estate Institute of NSW

Real estate agents undertake a diversity of activities related to the selling and leasing of residential and commercial property. Many agents specialise in areas of practice such as residential sales, residential property management, commercial and industrial leasing and sales, representing buyers, rural sales and more.

  • It’s important to find an agent who has the skills and experience in the location and practice you need.

  • In NSW, agents must be licensed by the Office of Fair Trading under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002.

  • A well-chosen agent can be an invaluable asset for you. A professional agent can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise and is well-placed to read any day to day changes in the marketplace.

The agent’s role in selling

Under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002, there must be a written agreement between the seller and the real estate agency conducting the sale on your behalf. The agency is obligated to provide the seller with a consumer guide entitled Agency Agreements for the Sale of Residential Property before the agency agreement is entered into, with an acknowledgement by the seller of the date of receipt of the guide.

Residential and rural agency agreements are required to contain a statement regarding the cooling off period in close proximity to the place where the seller signs the agreement. The statement will include the details on the duration of the cooling off period within which time the agreement can be cancelled. The cooling off period is until 5pm on the next business day or Saturday.

The cooling off period may be waived if at least one business day before the seller signs the agreement the agent provides the seller with a copy of the proposed agency agreement with a copy of the consumer guide and before the seller signs the agency agreement, a waiver of the cooling off period as approved by the NSW Office of Fair Trading.

When a seller signs an agreement with an agent, the agent undertakes to sell the property for the best price within a suitable time frame and to act as the seller’s representative in managing all aspects of the sale. This commences with the initial appraisal of the property including advice on possible sale price and marketing and promotional strategies. It’s a good idea to contact a number of agents and prepare a list of questions to ask. The relationship with your agent may last for a number of months so it’s important that you are confident in their ability to deliver on what they promise.

As the seller, you are represented by your agent, who coordinates the marketing and promotion of your property, generates interest in prospective buyers and handles negotiations which can at times be sensitive. Personal attachment brings with it emotions which if not managed correctly can be counter-productive for you.

The agent is the intermediary and can relieve some of the stress that you may otherwise feel. Professional agents have experience in facilitating the sale process from the start through to inspections, negotiating and the exchanging of contracts.

The agent’s role in leasing

As a property owner when you engage the services of a qualified real estate agent to manage your property you are seeking to ensure that the property’s earning potential is maintained in a careful and ethical manner. When you appoint a managing agent you will be asked to sign a Management Agency Agreement. This agreement sets out the services provided and the fees and charges payable. It’s important to include in the document any special instructions that you may have for the agent.

Agents have systems and processes in place to select the best possible tenant at the time, maintain records of the condition of the premises and ensure rent is paid on time. An REINSW accredited property manager also has a good understanding of legal requirements relating to tenancies and the operation of the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.

Agents offer a wide range of services from representing you in a dispute at the Tribunal to arranging repairs, payment of rates and other charges to providing monthly and annual statements of rent collected and expenses paid.

Finding an agent

The REINSW website has contact details for member agents. You can also search the Internet, the Yellow Pages or look through advertisements in your local newspaper.

Whether selling or renting a property, you need to be confident that the agent you choose will provide the services you want at a competitive price and that they have the necessary skills and experience you require. Talk to neighbours or friends and ask for recommendations. Also, see which agents have a high profile in your area. Look at homes on the market or being rented that are similar to yours and identify which agents are handling these.

When you have a list of possible agents, arrange to meet them. Most agents will be happy to visit your home to discuss a possible sale or rental price and strategy. Good agents will also offer some background information about themselves and their business. You should also talk to them about the professional ethics they work by.

Ask the agent about their knowledge of the local property market and find out what properties they have sold or rented over the past year, and at what price. If selling, check they have experience with your style of property and ask about their proposed marketing strategy and how they intend to keep you updated on their progress.

Check that the agent has a good reputation both with past clients, and within the real estate industry. Ask to talk to some of their previous clients. Check if they are a member of REINSW.

Fees and services

Real estate agents’ fees are deregulated in NSW and are up for negotiation. Ask several agents what fees they charge and what services they provide before choosing a real estate agent. Also ask about other charges you may have to pay.

Compare fees and services offered. The agent with the lowest commission fee is not necessarily the best choice. On the other hand, you don’t want to be paying for unnecessary advertising or services.

Why deal with a REINSW member?

There are many advantages in dealing with a member of the Real Estate Institute of NSW. These include:

  • REINSW is one of the largest professional associations for real estate agents in Australia.
  • REINSW members follow a Code of Conduct that outlines the ethical duties and responsibilities of real estate agents. It encourages agents to follow best practices and to be fair and responsible in their agency practices.
  • If you have a problem about the behaviour or actions of an REINSW member you can take your concerns to the REINSW for investigation.