Whether you’re buying or selling a house, it’s going to be one of the biggest events in your life and your choice of REATLOR® is one of the most important decisions in the whole process. Your real estate agent can be the difference between a happy experience and a frustrating one, a quick sale and a slow one, a price you’re happy with and one you’re not. So, with thousands of prospective realtors to choose from, how do you know who is the right one? Here are some tips to help you find a real estate agent you’re happy with.
Get a referral
If you have friends, family, colleagues or even acquaintances who bought or sold houses recently, ask them about their experiences. They may have encountered a real estate agent who they thought was fantastic and give you a worthwhile recommendation. Alternatively, they may have had a terrible time, so you’ll have a name to add to your list of agents to avoid.
Look at their experience
Don’t take this the wrong way – new agents can be good agents; that is without doubt. However, as a general rule, relevant experience counts. Real estate agents who have been in the business for a number of years should have a good track record of closing sales, they will probably know the ins and outs of the industry better. At the same time, an agent who has done only commercial leasing may not be the right pick to help you sell a residential property, even if that agent has been in the industry for years. However, this tip comes with an important footnote: don’t rely on experience alone. An agent with 40 years’ experience who hasn’t moved with the times may not be the right choice for you. Which brings us to the next point…
Check if they are tech savvy
Can your real estate agent tell his email from elbow? Much of the real estate industry has moved into the online world and you want your agent to be there too. In fact, in today’s red-hot housing market in Toronto and the GTA, a smart agent will not only consider marketing your property by traditional methods, but also use online opportunities like social media. Check whether they have a website, see if their online listings are professional, and see what kinds of marketing services they offer. The added bonus of finding an internet-engaged agent is that it makes the next point a lot easier…
Do some research
Ask for referrals from previous clients. Look at houses sold or for sale by the agent. Read online reviews. Check how many houses the agent has closed. Find out as much information as you can and see if it matches up with what they told you. Knowing that an agent has a good track record and that they are honest about it will give you a lot more confidence in their abilities.
Interview several realtors
Don’t just go with the first person who impresses you because you may find that they don’t offer services that others offer. Take the time to talk to a few agents and ask them important questions about the process and what will they do for you. As well as giving you a valuable insight into the process and the pros and cons of each agent, talking with them will also help you judge their personality, which brings us to the next point…
Find someone you like
It sounds simple but it shouldn’t be forgotten. Whether buying or selling, this is a big deal for you and you want to work with someone you feel comfortable with and can trust. If there is friction from the start, there’s a good chance it will become a stressful process (more so than it already is!).
Check the agent’s relevant knowledge
If you want to buy a four-bedroom house in Orangeville, it won’t help to have a real estate agent who has only dealt with downtown condos. Ok, that was a bit of an extreme example, but the point still stands. You want to find a real estate agent who knows the area they will be working in and has dealt with similar properties to yours in the past.
Don’t believe the hype
Some agents may promise you the world. More money, a quicker sale, a bigger and better house. However, don’t take their words at face value – ask for information to back it up. If they say they are the best real estate agent in the area, ask in what way that is true. If they claim they always sell over asking, check their track record. If they tell you about an award they received, have a look to see what it actually means. A reliable real estate agent will always have facts to back up their claims and will be happy to share details with you.
Look for bonuses in their services
Will the agent provide an online tour of the house? Will they offer staging services? Do they work with other professionals when preparing a house for sale? Do they have extra marketing services they can provide? In short, what gives them the edge over other real estate agents?
Go to an open house
A great way to meet realtors and to get a feel for how they operate is to go to an open house. You will see the agent in their day-to-day work and also get some valuable insights into the house buying experience. Who knows, you may even find a house you want to buy!