In today’s show we talk with Kathryn Fantov, Sellers Advocate, from Innovative Property Advocates. Kathryn explains why having a seller’s advocate, will make your life easier.
Kevin: You no doubt will have heard of the term buyer’s agent, and you know how that differs, I would imagine, from the normal everyday agent – that is that buyer’s agents will work exclusively with buyers. But is there such a thing as a seller’s agent?
I guess one of the things that has concerned many, many people over the years is the conflict of interest for a traditional real estate agent. How can they work for both the seller and the buyer, particularly when they’re actually earning their money out of the seller?
Well, guess what? There’s now a thing called a seller’s advocate. This is someone who works exclusively with sellers to make sure that they get the right agent and then they get the right price.
I’m talking to one of them now. Her name is Kathryn Fantov. She’s from Innovative Property Advocates, and she joins me.
Good day Kathryn.
Kathryn: Hi, Kevin. How are you?
Kevin: Good. Seller’s advocacy has been around for some time. What’s the difference between your business and other seller’s advocates.
Kathryn: There are probably a couple of differences. The main difference would the way that we’re remunerated. Other seller’s advocates actually tell the clients that it’s a free service and then what they do is when they’ve chosen a real estate agent, negotiate a fee with them but they have to take off their fee about 20%. The fee that they get paid comes from the agent but that fee is paid by the seller. It’s not actually a free service.
Kevin: It could also be seen as a bit of a conflict of interest, similar to what I was saying at the opening there where traditional agents try to work for both the buyer and the seller.
Kathryn: Exactly. In my view, I think that seller’s advocacy is all about being independent. It’s all about offering unbiased advice to the seller, acting exclusively for the seller. The difficulty is when you’re sharing the commission with the real estate agent, how can you remain impartial and independent?
Kevin: This is an additional fee your seller would have to pay. Can you give me an idea as to what that may cost and what are the benefits for them?
Kathryn: Starts anywhere from around $4000.
Kevin: At what stage do you become involved in the selling process? Is it at the appointment of the agent?
Kathryn: We actually come in right at the very beginning, hopefully when the people are just starting to think about selling and they’re thinking about, “Well, we need to do some work around the house. What should we do? How much should spend so we don’t over-capitalize. Where should we spend the money?”
We actually call in three of the local agents. We interview them on behalf of the seller, and we give our recommendations to the seller on who we think would be best suited to sell the property and why.
Once they’re appointed, we negotiate the best selling fee for the owner. We review the marketing, making sure they’re not overspending on marketing. We deal with the agent throughout the whole process.
Kevin: Going back to the appointment of the agent. That’s one of the most difficult things for most people, because agents are very good at selling themselves and selling a concept. How do you cut through all of that? What are the things that you ask that helps you identify the best person for the job?
Kathryn: The thing that I really want to know about is how they handle the question of price when it comes to the buyers querying them, maybe at the open house or afterwards, especially if it’s an auction campaign or if it’s an “offers over.” I really question them on how they handle that and whether they’re going to give them an accurate fee or are they going to be under-quoting?
The other thing I get from them is a list of all of the sales they’ve made in the last three months – every single sale, how they were made, how many days on market, whether they sold at auction or private treaty. That gives me a bit of a snapshot as to how well the agent is operating in the area, as well.
Kevin: I think that a couple of points you made there really highlight the fact that many people – who probably only once or twice in their life may ever sell a property – sometimes don’t even know the right questions to ask, so it’s quite easy, therefore, to get the wrong agent. That’s one of the reasons why having a seller’s advocate is certainly going to make it easier.
If that’s what you want, why don’t you contact Kathryn and her team at Innovative Property Advocates.
Thank you for your time today.
Kathryn: Thanks, Kevin.