Real estate agents are a bit like Tim Hortons coffee shops, you can find one on just about every corner. Problem is that 87 per cent of the 22,000 licensed realtors in Toronto will no longer be practising in the next five years. So here are a few pointers to help you pick out the cream from the rest of the crop.
Above all else, nothing beats a good referral from a trustworthy friend. If someone you know has only nice things to say about their realtor even after the move, you can take it as a resounding vote of confidence. Like so many other things, the follow-through makes the world of difference.
Now, if you’re going the pioneer route and choosing one individually, always remember who’s in charge: You!
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Advertisements, canvassers and the Internet can usually give you a good indication of the most active realtors in your area. Advertisements are specifically designed to get your business so don’t just go with the hype. Choose four-to-five agents from different offices, to start with, and interview them. If none of them works out continue with the search.
Question each on their experience, knowledge, and commitment. You wouldn’t hire a part-time surgeon to perform your surgery, so why hire a part-time, or otherwise uncommitted, realtor to help with the largest transaction you’ll ever make? Ask for a list of referrals (past clients) and make sure to use the list. It’s the next best thing from an actual referral. Educate yourself on how successful, active, professional and personable they are. Ask them why you should choose them from the rest. For many agents this will trigger a trademark response, but what you’re looking for here is sincerity. Most of the top agents will have identical statistics, designations and other decorative features, but the best of the best will have a genuine and likable personality, the kind you will want to work with. In a “people-business” like real estate, the quality of the person definitely makes a difference.
How the agent presents the first document that requires your signature is a true test. If they lead with the hook, line and sinker rather than explaining what you’re signing and a concern for your level of comfort, you might want to rethink your decision.
During the actual buying or selling process, your comfort level should grow continuously, like a blossoming friendship. Never feel hesitant about asking questions. Pushing personal preferences for facts is pushing for a sale, and the only pushing your realtor should be doing is for the best possible price, in your favour.