Whether you’re buying a home for the first time, or selling your property to move, dealing with a realtor to close the deal is almost a given. But how can you be sure you’ve chosen the right one?
The most common ways people find their realtors are word-of-mouth, and online search. Most people have either a family member or a friend who have dealt with a realtor before, so you might be tempted to simply use the same real estate agent they did. You may have instead opted to research online and find potential realtors in your area, maybe reading up on their reviews as well. Regardless of how you found them, your realtor will be responsible for helping you find the right property, or the right buyer.
To make you more comfortable making your choice, you might opt to “interview” potential realtors in an introductory conversation, letting them know your goals and asking questions. But what kind of questions can you ask to ensure you’ve made the right pick?
We’ve put together the top 5 questions to have answered before committing to a realtor:
How will they communicate with you?
Whether you’re buying or selling, you will be relying on your realtor to connect you with properties or buyers and you want to ensure that you have an open line of communication with the person responsible for such a big financial decision. A good realtor will communicate clearly with you along the way and ideally be available anytime you need, as offers can come and go quickly in a hot real estate market. You should ask your realtor what their preferred platform for communication is as well as how often you can expect to hear from them along the way. The best realtors will be available anytime to answer your questions, and giving you frequent updates on any offers you’ve put or received.
How long have they worked in the industry?
Experience matters in the real-estate industry, and the amount of time a realtor has spent in the market can have a big impact on their knowledge of properties and deals. It would probably be a good bet not to go with a realtor who will be closing their first deal with you as their client. On the other end of the spectrum, a realtor who’s been in the market for decades might not have kept up to date with the latest trends in the market. If they mention buying a detached home in Toronto for less than 7 figures, you might want to consider other options.
What area do they specialize in?
Most realtors have an area of operations they typically work in, whether this is a specific city, or type of property. If you’re looking for a cottage in Muskoka for example, you’ll likely want a realtor who’s used to cottage properties and can advise you on what to look out for. Realtors may specialize in different areas or types of properties, so it’s important to ask your realtor if they’ve dealt with the type of property you’re planning on buying. This will help you understand their expertise and ensure that they are well-suited to help you buy or sell the type of property you are interested in.
What is their strategy?
If you really want to grill your potential realtor and test their knowledge, you can ask them some specific questions to get them to show their hand. If you’re working with a realtor to sell your home, ask them what their “Comparative Market Analysis” or CMA is, and what their listing strategy is based on that valuation. If you’re looking to buy a property you can ask your realtor what their purchasing strategy is and how they will find the right home for you. If you want to get down to the specifics you can ask things like “How often will you show me new homes?”, “How do you plan to compete with other offers?”, and “Will you go to open houses to view properties in person?”
Can I find references from past clients?
Talking to a previous client can provide valuable insights into what it’s like to work with a particular realtor. Word of mouth from family and friends is one of the most common ways that Canadians find their realtor and if that sounds like your situation then you have direct access to a valuable source of information. If you didn’t get referred by a family member or friend then you could ask your potential realtor if they can provide references from past clients who are willing to speak with you about their experience. It’s common nowadays for realtors to provide testimonials from past clients on their site or social media page.
What are you seeing in the market right now?
Asking your realtor this question has two benefits. You’re likely interviewing multiple realtors at once and you can validate their knowledge based on how they answer this question. The other benefit is you’ll get additional market insights, regardless of whether you end up choosing to work with that realtor.
It can be hard to choose the right realtor, especially if you’ve never worked with one before. Hopefully these questions give you a leg up when it comes to finding the right realtor for you.
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