There are two common ways to choose a real estate agent: you can get a personal recommendation from someone you trust, like a friend or family member – who has bought or sold a home in the area in which you are interested. If somebody else you know has had a good experience, it’s likely you will as well. Or, you can search the Internet or other advertising media to find your real estate agent.
Of course, the question comes up all the time: why should you use a real estate agent at all? With the surge in FSBO (for sale by owner) websites and the explosion of websites geared to helping buyers find properties and research neighbourhoods, some people think about doing the job themselves. The fact remains that though you might find your ideal home on the Internet, it is still essential to have an advocate who will help you every step of the way, from screening properties, to negotiating the best possible deal for you, to handling the dozens of transactional details. What are the potential dangers of not having a trusted professional guide you through the process?
- You can waste weeks, even months, searching for the right home while missing out on great opportunities because the public MLS (Realtor.ca) is not immediately updated nor does it contain vital property information
- The Seller’s agent is looking out for his or her client, not for you – they will not negotiate fiercely on your behalf, so you could easily overpay for the house
- Conversely, no counsel on current market value means you might lose your dream home by only a few thousand dollars in multiple offer situations
- Serious problems with the home, including structural damage, may not be visible to the untrained eye and once the deal closes, you are stuck with the property
- Complex clauses in the offer to purchase (drafted by the Seller’s advocate, not yours) may put you at a disadvantage in terms of payment arrangements and conditions
- Your deposit money can be tied up for months in the event that the deal falls through; in extreme cases of fraudulent sellers, that money can literally disappear
- Once the deal is done, you’re on your own in terms of the closing and any issues or problems that might arise.
Buying a home is a big step, both financially and emotionally. No one I’ve worked with has said they wished they did it on their own. I have helped many people buy their homes, and I know what I am doing. The great news is, Buyer Representatives are compensated through the Seller, so using a REALTOR® does not require you to pay any out of pocket fees. I work on contingency, putting all our time and effort into helping you reach your real estate goals. I don’t get paid until you are happily nested in your new home!
Sometimes clients approach me to help them buy their next home and out of curiosity, I ask them why they’re not working with the person who sold them their last home. From the answers they’ve given me about what’s important to them, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your Realtor:
- * Go local – look for the top REALTOR® in the area you want to live in. Your REALTOR® should work often in the area you want to move to – how else will they know what the local market is doing and what private opportunities might be under the radar?
- Check the agent’s track record of success over the years – a good REALTOR® should know their stats. Ask to see their client testimonials, and search the content of their website, which should give you a good idea of how the REALTOR® works for their clients.
- Choose an agent who often handles homes in your price range. If you’re a first time condo buyer, choosing an agent who primarily sells trophy homes means you may not be getting the market expertise, time or energy they would devote to someone with more money to spend.
- Call one of the agents on your short list and speak to them or a member of their team. If you enjoy the contact, then you are in good shape to meet them in person to determine if they are the right fit for your unique needs and lifestyle. After the meeting, think about whether they seemed trustworthy and honest, realistic when discussing your home purchase, committed to you, motivated to helping you, and knowledgeable.
- When it comes to real estate, two (or more!) heads are better than one. If the agent you’re considering works with a team, including a buyer specialist and administrative people, you can usually be assured of a better experience. No successful REALTOR® can fill every role in the complex buying process, so although you might not be working with the CEO or team leader all the time, you’re still getting the best of his/her expertise plus the rest of the team’s time and skill.
- Choose an agent who listens to what you want and who takes the time to explain things which are not clear to you. Ask questions!
- Ask what makes your Realtor’s service special what distinguishes them from all the other agents out there.
- Choose an agent who is available on your time schedule. If you are only available to look at homes on Sunday, and your agent doesn’t work weekends, then find one who can accommodate you. Ask what provisions are in place for when your REALTOR® is not available.
- Make your experience a ‘one-stop-shop’! Your agent should be able to assist you with other necessary real estate services, such as arranging a house inspection, arranging a mortgage and finding a real estate lawyer.