Just because there are lots of agents available to you doesn’t mean all of them are a perfect match. Picking the wrong agent can negatively impact the entire process and could end up costing you money and time. Hiring an agent that matches your individual needs and wants can help speed up the process, and get you the best outcome. But how do you know which one is best for you?
Here are some tips you may find helpful on how to choose a Realtor®:
When it comes to selling your house, things can get stressful. Using a real estate agent can be a big advantage; they have access to multiple databases of qualified contacts and can show your house to more people, which could result in a faster sale. They will also have the best advice on how to sell your home for top dollar, giving you the best return on your investment, and can handle/prevent any unforeseen issues.
Things to look for:
- Local Market Knowledge: Look for someone with experience selling homes in your local area. An agent with local market knowledge will be able to show you what similar homes to yours have sold for in recent months, and how they compare to your home.
- Helpful: You want an agent that will be helpful throughout the entire process. Not just with negotiating the best price and terms, but assisting with inspections, providing ideas for improvements, and pointing out potential repairs. The agent should also be able to give you tips on how you can increase the price of your home by making small changes like decluttering or painting the walls a neutral colour.
- Licensing and Certification: Make sure that your agent has a current license to practice in your area. You can do a search on the internet for your province’s real estate regulatory board to check if your agent’s name is listed or not (see below). There you may also see if there has been any disciplinary actions or complaints made towards the agent, as well as any awards the agent has received, such as “Agent of the Year”, “Most Homes Sold”, etc. A valid license is required in order for a Realtor® to use the local MLS services as well.
- Communication: An agent with good communication skills is a must, since they will be the ones communicating on your behalf to potential buyers and/or other agents. Good communication is also key when there are showings, during negotiations, and leading up to the closing day. You also want an agent who is a good listener so that you don’t have to go back and forth all the time.
- Good Track Record: An agent with a good track record is important. Don’t hesitate to request the asking and sale prices of their past homes sold. If their past listings are similar to yours it can be beneficial for you to work with an agent who specializes in what you’re offering. Also look for any customer reviews or testimonials left on the agent’s website or other review sites like Yelp. Talk to past clients and ask them what their overall experience was like, if there was anything the agent could’ve done better, and whether or not they would recommend the agent to a friend.
- Negotiation Skills: Good negotiating skills are key to have when it comes to selling anything but especially when it comes to big ticket items like a house. You want an agent that can get you the best price possible and who can properly represent you. Someone who sees the same value in your home as you do and is willing to make a strong argument and sales pitch to prospective buyers and their agents to maximize the sale price.
|Local Real Estate Regulatory Boards:
- Part Timers: While there certainly are some great part time agents out there, we typically would suggest to avoid them unless they are highly recommended. In many cases, part timers could either be inexperienced or have limited availability and focus. The result is that your house could sit on the market forever. This delay could end up costing you the house of your dreams while you wait for your current house to sell.
- Bad references: Don’t be shy about asking your agent for a list of references and past clients. This “insider info” can be beneficial for you to decide if the agent’s performance is to your standards and get an idea of how they’ll work with you.
- Bad Track Record: A poor track record means the agent hasn’t sold many homes or the homes they have sold have gone for a lot less than the original asking price. Other than the influence of economic factors, this could be seen as a warning sign that the agent may not be equipped properly. You would also want to ask how long the homes were on the market for.
- No Experience: If the agent has no experience dealing with houses that are similar to yours, this can be viewed as a bad sign. Ask the agent to show you recent examples of listings that are comparable to yours and be sure to ask how long they were on the market for, the difference between asking price and selling price, and what features helped or hindered the sale.
- High Listing Price: If the agent suggests a very high listing price immediately, this is a sign that they may be desperate for the listing, and not necessarily looking out for your best interests. While it may be tempting to go in that direction, if the pricing is not based on the market statistics of previous homes sold (which a good agent will have provided to you) the home will take longer to sell, and ultimately, sell for less than market value.
- Hire a friend: Don’t just hire an agent because you know them personally. Make sure the agent earns your business whether they’re your friend or not. Working with a friend can also cause conflict which can create a negative impact on your friendship.
Making a Choice
Now that you know what to look for and what to avoid in a real estate agent, it’s time to pick one.
- Review: Ask friends and family for references and check the agent’s online presence before making a decision. If a past client had a bad experience, the agent probably won’t use them as a reference. Therefore, you should look for reviews the agent can’t control.
- Online reviews can be skeptical as most people usually only do them when things go wrong, however, if an agent has multiple bad reviews you may want to stay away or ask the agent why. Some people are just too hard to please and something that upset them maybe wouldn’t necessarily upset you.
- Ask family and friends for references. Knowing someone close to you who’s dealt with the agent and had a positive experience can help give the agent credibility, however don’t feel pressured to hire them for that reason alone. Just because they were compatible doesn’t mean you will be.
- Do a google search on the agent’s name. You’d be surprised at what you can actually find about someone on the internet. Educating yourself about the agent and what their personality is like will certainly help you decide whether they will be a good match for you or not.
- Interview: Before choosing the right agent for you, you should interview several agents. Try to ask as many questions as possible so you can get a sense of whether they’re right for you or not and how much they know about the business.
- Ask the agent how long they’ve been in business. Typically, you would want an agent who has many years of experience, however that doesn’t mean saying no to a new agent. Someone just hired could have new and different ideas than agents who have been doing it for years.
- Ask the agent what their skills are. What they feel like they excel in and what they think they can improve on. Even experienced agents who have been in business for a long time may not have the set of skills that meet your expectations.
- Ask them what their strategy would be. How are they going to sell your home and what sets them apart from other agents? Knowing their plan of action beforehand can prevent any misconceptions along the way and can help narrow down the list of potentials.
- Ask how many clients the agent has dealt with in the past. Agents who work part time or don’t take on many clients may not be well equipped as others who do. That being said, agents with lots of time on their hands may be more motivated to sell.
- Ask what type of properties they usually deal with. Ideally you would want an agent who sells properties similar to yours and in your neighbourhood and price range.
- Ask the agent how they plan to communicate with you. You don’t want to work with an agent who is hard to get in touch with or that only uses one channel of communication.
- Browse: Go online and browse through the listings currently advertised by the agents you’ve interviewed. Check their personal website and also other realty sites like realtor.ca, kijiji.ca, etc.
- Check to see how closely the agent’s listings are compared to yours. Similar listings mean this agent is familiar with homes like yours and has experience working with clients like yourself.
- Pay attention to the listing price. Has the agent listed homes within your price range before? If not you may want to look for one that has since they could have access to a clientele better suited for you.
- Compare the number of homes the agent has sold to the number of homes the agent has listed. Unless the market is down you would want to work with an agent who has more homes sold than listed but make sure they have enough time they can devote to you and your individual needs.
- Test the waters: Ask the agent for a 90-day contract or short-term contract.
- You don’t want to waste too much time on the wrong agent. However, if you feel they’re working hard and doing a great job you can always renew the contract for an extended period of time. Also, a shorter contract might encourage them to sell your home faster.
- Once hired continue to review their work. Make sure they keep up the pace throughout the entire process. You don’t want an agent that works hard initially but then slows down.
- Let the agent know of any issues or concerns you may have. The agent can’t fix the problem if they don’t know that one exists. Maintaining open communication is important in order to keep the relationship with your agent successful.