I decided to write this post because if I had read something similar to this when I was first starting out in Real Estate, I would have saved myself a lot of time, headaches and stress. Without getting into my personal real estate agent horror stories, here are my 5 tips for selecting the best real estate agent:
1. Make Sure they are Full Time Agents
Without a question this is one of the most important aspects in selecting a great realtor. I’ve come to notice that a lot of people think that real estate agents make a lot of money and that it is a short cut to becoming well off. So as a result, a whole bunch of people get their realtor license for the wrong reasons. They have “hopes” of getting a 5% commission on a $1,000,000 house ($50,000). The truth is, being successful at anything requires a lot of hard work and dedication no matter what business you are in. Real Estate is no different – in fact, about 20% of realtors do 80% of all real estate transactions (within a particular geographical area).
2. Help Without Action
A realtor, much like a lawyer or a doctor must have your best interest at heart. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, not everyone gets his or her license for the right reasons. If the realtor you are communicating with expects you to sign a commitment agreement right away (even if they tell you they are required by their broker) I would be seriously alarmed. Like in any successful and harmonious relationship, there has to be the right fit first. In order to determine if there is a fit to work together or not, your potential realtor should be willing to help you a little bit (learn the market, see some comps etc.) without any contracts or expectation of you to take action – ever; no-pressure type of relationship. Great full time realtors know that that is the best way to attract business and long term success. Meanwhile amateurs and likely not very serious agents will feel more confident in themselves if they “locked” you up legally. Sadly, many clients out there will feel obliged to the realtor under the terms of the agreement.
3. Area Expert
Despite the claims you might see on the front page of newspapers that might be something along the lines of “Canadian Real Estate Market is Down”, any savvy, experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent will know to ignore that. Every market (ex. Toronto) also has many sub-markets (ex. Down Town Core, Harbor Front, The Annex, etc). All of these sub-markets have different trends and fundamental factors affecting the rise or fall in the price, supply and demand, or properties available at a given time. Throughout GTA there are hundreds of different submarkets. Great real estate agents know that being an expert in only a few close by sub-markets will yield them better quality clients and a much more successful business. Their clients will also be much happier because their agents will be able to give them expert advice. Meanwhile amateur agents will help clients almost anywhere just to get a deal done. In other words, throw pasta on the wall and hope that something will stick! Do YOU want to be their client?
Many people might find this a silly thing to do, but I like to compare realtors to doctors. A realtor without a specialty is much like a general walk-in clinic doctor, not that there is anything wrong with that. But if you are having sight problems, an eye specialist will be able to give you much better advice than a walk-in doctor. Not only do specialists have much better knowledge, but they also have the right tools to help you. The same goes for realtors. Are you in the market for a condo? Then you should be looking for a realtor who specializes in condos. Are you trying to be an investor? Then you need to be working with a realtor who specializes in working with investors. Realtors that specialize in condos within a particular sub-market are different than realtors specializing in working with investors for rental properties. Real estate agents who work with investors know exactly what type of properties cashflow, how much that cash flow will be, and where to look for these types of properties. Condo specialists will know exactly which buildings in the area have lower maintenance fees vs. condo prices vs. sizes of each unit.
Chemistry? Why in the world would this be relevant? Lets face it… we are slowly shifting away from a suit & tie corporate environment and transitioning into “Apple-Google” like business culture. Not to say that these top companies are not corporate, but the culture overall is just much more laid back, relaxed and fun. This is why they are able to attract the best and most talented programmers and employees all around. The same goes for realtors. Make sure you have the right chemistry. Be sure that the relationship and process is fun, easy going enjoyable and all at the same time professional.