It’s common for Sellers to interview several real estate agents before hiring one, yet the amount of due diligence that Buyers do is negligible. I regularly see Buyers hire their co-worker’s brother who just got his license, their cousin who drives a cab full-time AND has a real estate license, or their Mom’s agent who works in the ‘burbs.
This is likely the biggest purchase you’ve ever made – shouldn’t you be hiring the best agent to represent you?
10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Buyer Agent
1 – What is your experience in the neighbourhoods I’m interested in?
Part of the process of buying a home involves evaluating neighbourhoods and communities and your real estate agent should be the quarterback in that process. Experienced agents can tell you how a neighbourhood is changing, comment on the quality of the schools and know where to find the closest grocery store and park. Better yet: in your initial meeting, they should ask questions about the type of lifestyle you want to live and suggest neighbourhoods you haven’t yet considered.
2 – What is your expertise in the type of property I want to buy?
Buying a condo isn’t like buying a house, and lofts, co-ops and commercial properties each have unique considerations and challenges. It’s important that the agent you choose to represent you can help you focus on what’s different and why that’s important. In-depth knowledge about wet basements and knob and tube wiring doesn’t matter if you’re buying a condo, and knowledge about which lofts are the noisiest doesn’t matter if you’re buying a house.
3 – Tell me about your negotiation style and experience.
Studies show that one of the most important things Buyers want in their real estate agent is negotiation skill, however, negotiation isn’t something that’s covered in much depth in Ontario’s real estate licensing courses. Top Buyer Agents have sought out additional education like the Certified Negotiation Expert designation or the advanced designation of Master Certified Negotiation Expert and will easily be able to tell you how they approach a negotiation.
BREL Tip: Agents should know what ‘BATNA’ is – it’s the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement and it’s the foundation of almost all negotiations. Think of it as knowing everybody’s Plan B and how that affects a negotiation.
4 – What are the legal pitfalls I need to worry about?
This question is meant to test the agent’s legal knowledge. Sure, you’ll be hiring a real estate lawyer to help you close on the property, but there are all sorts of legal issues that will come up before closing day. REALTORS should be familiar with disclosures, conditions, the offer paperwork, closing issues, representation intricacies and more.
5 – What is your approach to winning a bidding war?
This is a biggie if you’re buying a house in Toronto. Great Buyer Agents understand what’s required to win a bidding war (and no, it’ NOT just buckets of money). Time and again I see Buyers at a disadvantage on offer night because their agent didn’t know the basics of winning a bidding war.
BREL Tip: Money + Deposit Cheque + No Conditions + a Relationship with the Listing Agent + Showing Up + Strategy = Winning a Bidding War
6 – What is your experience in helping people like me?
Buying a home often happens during a period of transition and it’s important to understand if the agent you’re thinking of hiring has worked with people like you before. Are you a single first-time buyer? Investor? Going through a divorce? Downsizing? Moving to the city? Buying a new house because your family is growing? There are unique considerations for every different kind of Buyer and it’s critical that your agent understands what these are.
7 – Can I talk to some of your past clients?
Hopefully, you’ve done your due diligence before the meeting and have already sought online reviews for the agents you’re meeting with. But what would those past Buyers say about their experience now? Even if you don’t want to call references, how the agents handle the question during the interview can tell you a lot.
8 – What kinds of partnerships do you have with home service professionals?
A top agent will not only have connections with lawyers, lenders, appraisers, surveyors and home inspectors, but they’ll have preferred relationships with handymen, painters, electricians, plumbers, cleaners and more.
9 – Tell me about your current relationships with past clients.
Your relationship with your REALTOR shouldn’t end when you get the keys to your new home. While you don’t need to become friends with your agent (though that frequently happens), you’ll want to be able to rely on them when something goes wrong with the house (eg. water in the basement or scratching noises in the attic). BREL past clients know they can count on us to help them evaluate future renovation decisions too and that we’ll keep them informed about changes to the value of their home.
BREL Tip: Top agents aren’t just experts at buying a home, they’re experts at owning a home too.
10 – The heart matters too.
Sometimes, you just need to listen to your gut. Is the agent listening to you? Are they asking good questions? Do you feel they understand what you want? Do you trust them? Do you like them?
If you’re looking for a Buyer Agent in Toronto or West GTA, we’d love to be considered. Get in touch to see if one of us is the right agent for you.