— We take our content seriously. This article was written by a real person at BREL.
If you’re thinking about buying a vacation home or cottage, you’ll want to hire a local real estate agent. While it may be tempting to just call your trusted city agent for help, there are 10 important reasons to go local.
1 – See What Homes are Available for Sale
Not all real estate boards in Ontario allow members to amalgamate the area listings on their websites….which means that if you aren’t working with a local REALTOR, the only way you’ll be able to see what’s available for sale is by visiting the Canadian Real Estate Association’s website, www.realtor.ca (which is not always up-to-date) – and even then, a lot of cottages don’t get listed publicly. To get instant notifications of what’s available for sale in smaller communities, you need to work with a local agent.
2 – Access the Secret Listings
It’s not uncommon in cottage country, for agents to have ‘pocket listings’- secret homes for sale that aren’t publicly listed. Having a good relationship with a local agent might give you the inside edge on some great properties you otherwise wouldn’t even have known were available for sale.
3 – Get Historical Price Data
There are 39 real estate boards in Ontario, each with their own unique rules and membership requirements. So while Ontario REALTORS are licensed to practice anywhere in Ontario, they only have access to the listings and historical price information of the boards they belong to. If your Toronto real estate agent doesn’t belong to the board in the area you want to buy in, they won’t be able to see sold price information…which makes it almost impossible for them to be able to guide you on value and price.
4 – Insider Knowledge About the Communities
Ontario’s cottage and vacation areas are made up of various smaller communities, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. While you can learn a lot on the internet, nothing beats learning about a community from someone who lives or works in it every day.
Related: check out our Vacation Home Community Guides
5 – City REALTORS Don’t Know Rural Real Estate Stuff
Sure, we learned it in school – but if your agent hasn’t actually attended a septic inspection, can’t read a survey, or doesn’t understand the results of a water well test, they’re probably not the best real estate agent to be advising you. There are a lot of unique issues in rural areas that your city REALTOR just might not be able to interpret.
6 – The Local Real Estate Customs Matter
While the laws across Ontario may be the same, there are local customs and expectations that matter when it comes time to make an offer. What’s a normal deposit (hint, it’s a LOT lower than it is in Toronto). What conditions are considered ‘normal’ and are needed to protect you, but won’t damage the negotiation process? What’s a normal first offer? How does a typical negotiation go down? What happens if there are multiple offers on a property?
7 – Relationships With Other Agents
In most real estate transactions, there are two agents: the one who represents the Buyer, and the one who represents the Seller. Having an agent who is well respected and known by the other agent can go a long way to ensuring a smooth negotiation and closing.
8 – The Local Agent Can See Properties for Sale Right Away
Good cottage properties sell fast in many areas, and having an established relationship with a local agent means you don’t have to wait until the weekend (or whenever your out-of-town agent is available) to see a new listing. Also: a video walk-through tour can save you a trip.
9 – Access Their Network of Home Service Professionals
This is a big reason to hire a local agent. When you own a second home, you’ll need to rely on a lot of local tradespeople, and having insider connections can make a world of difference in both your ability to book in-demand services and even the price you pay.
10 – Answer Your Random Questions
When you move to a new community, it’s nice to have someone who can answer your random local questions. Where’s the best nearby brunch? Who’s the best dog groomer in town? Best place to get a gel pedicure? Where are the best hiking areas?
Looking to buy a cottage or vacation home? Get in touch and we’ll connect you with the best local agents.
Related: How to Finance a Second Home
Related: Cottage Area Community Guides