A real estate agent’s primary focus is winning the contract to sell a property you want to put on the market. Getting your business is the hard part; in comparison, selling your home can be easy.
So, bearing this in mind, who should you believe when you ask agents to assess your property’s value? You’ll certainly get a variety of answers and price ranges, and even though you’d expect agents’ opinions about the market value of properties to differ a bit, particularly for unusual properties or those in rising markets, how much of this is agent’s genuine disagreement and how much is part of the sales tactics?
For a start, going with the agent who gives the highest estimate (in some states only licensed valuers can give a ‘valuation’) could be a mistake. While the national industry body says it’s misleading and deceptive conduct for agents to mislead prospective vendors about their property’s estimated selling price, agents told us the exaggeration of property values to sellers is a practice that’s still ingrained in the industry.
And CHOICE’s spot-check of agents’ quotes (called a 'shadow shop') found a wide range in the estimates some agents gave for the same property. In some cases, participants in the shadow shop felt the overestimation of property values was to get their business. In other cases, if the shadow shopper had sold at the lower range of values suggested by the agents, they would have made a very costly mistake.