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Yelp Reviews, RealtorsThe National Association of Realtors recently released the results of a study that found that 41% of Buyers and 39% of Sellers found their agent through a referral. To be honest, those numbers don’t surprise me – 70% of our business comes via referral too.

I’ve just returned from the Inman News Real Estate Connect Conference in San Francisco and there was a lot of talk about review websites for real estate agents. I admit – when I book a hotel, I check it out first with Trip Advisor. Before I try out a new restaurant, I research it on Yelp. But would I turn to an anonymous website to help me choose the person who will guide me through the biggest purchase I am likely to make?

If I was hiring a real estate agent in Toronto, here’s what I’d do:

  1. Decide what’s important to you in a real estate agent: Neighbourhood knowledge? Negotiation and pricing strategy? Someone who’ll hold your hand through the process? Experience with dealing with investment properties or flips? Agents have different skills, expertise, experience and approaches – what do you need?
  2. Start your search for a real estate agent with your friends and family.  Who have they had good experiences with? Who do they think you should avoid? Make sure to ask them specifically about the things that are important to you – just because your Mom had a good experience with an agent while buying a house in the ‘burbs, doesn’t mean that same agent will be the best person to find you that downtown Toronto penthouse condo.
  3. Research the agent online – their website and presence on social media can tell you a lot. Are they on top of their game and on top of the market? Are they experts in the neighbourhoods you’re interested in buying in?
  4. Check out agent review sites and testimonials to help you validate what you’ve been able to discover. Is that realtor really as great as he says he is? Look for consistencies in themes vs. one really great or one really bad review. Is everyone talking about how great they are at educating new buyers through the process? Do multiple people talk about the agent’s bidding war savvy? Ask to talk to one of the people who provided a testimonial.
  5. Meet with a few agents and then decide who to work with. It shocks me that 73% of people only ever call one agent.
At the end of the day, most people hire an agent they know, like and trust. For more tips on picking a Toronto real estate agent, check out one of our more popular blogs, How to Pick a Great Realtor.



  1. Richard Renaud says:

    We used a real estate agent from Markham Ontario called PK, DO NOT USE HIM! He is the worst person I have ever met. He is very rude. We had him as our real estate agent. Here is our story. We found out that the person we sold our house to was a person that had went to him to find a house. He told us he found a buyer before he even put up the sign. We would not tell me on phone how much. When we got there we found out it was $15000 less than we were akin and we said no. A few days later at 10 o’clock at night he tells us he has a buyer and when we get there it’s the same person for the same price. After hours of fighting with him we ended up giving up and selling for $10,000 less than we asking. We have regretted it ever since.
    We also found out that there were numerous other offers he had never told us about.
    But that’s not it, when I called him the next day, he yelled at me and was very rude to me on the phone, He than called my wife and did the same to her at her work and she was very upset and afraid.
    He is a terrible person. DO NOT USE PK.

  2. Kelly Youlton says:

    I recently had the opportunity to work with PZ as the selling agent on my property in the GTA (2013 purchase). Thankfully, I had my own Real Estate Agent, Stephanie Pilarski, to help with the transaction as dealing with PZ was not a pleasant experience. She was scatterbrained, disorganized and pushy. She lost emails, gave wrong information, and caused a lot of frustration. As my purchase involved choosing my own household finishings, attention to detail was critical. PZ made many decisions herself without checking back to make sure they were the decisions that were wanted – thankfully, visits to the property where the workers were onsite resulted in a lot of errors being stopped before they were started. A lot – not all. I moved into my property with it not fully completed. Three months in, I am still waiting for repairs to be completed. My Real Estate Agent has fought every step of the way for PZ to agree to have them done. One major repair (which is needed due to a poorly thought out design decision she made on her own) has become a very sore point. She has abdicated all responsibility on it (to have it fixed and for the repair to be paid for). Due to my frustration and the poor aesthetics of my unit, my Real Estate Agent has agreed to pay for it on her own because she wants me to be happy in my home. A very nice gesture on her part – it says a lot for her business practices and very little for PZ’s. I can not, with any confidence, recommend that anyone use PZ as an agent. Just goes to show, sometimes it’s not YOUR own agent that is problematic but the one from the other side of the transaction.

    • Melanie Piche says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more – it’s often the other side that is frustrating. Kudos to your agent for persevering! (Sorry I had to remove the actual offending agent’s name because this isn’t an actual review site and I can get in trouble for that kind of thing – I did keep your agent’s name in there though because she clearly deserves a thumbs up!)

  3. Stephen Coggins says:

    We used an agent from ** Real Estate named *** and he completely screwed us over. We bid on a house in Oshawa and there were 3 other bidders. All the offers were close and apparently the seller gave all of us the chance to up our bids but *** never even told us he just told the selling agent that was our max and we lost out!! We tried firing him and ** Real Estate is holding us to the representation contract we signed that day he screwed us over until it expires in April! Beware ** and *** Real Estate at all costs!!!!!

    • Melanie Piche says:

      Sorry to hear about your experience, sounds terrible. I’ve redacted the names (the Real Estate Council requires me too)…I hope your next experience is a good one!

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