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Looking to hire a great agent? Nervous about hiring the wrong REALTOR? Here are 12 things to watch out for:
1. Hire a Neighbourhood Pro
If you’re looking to buy a home, a REALTOR who regularly works in your target neighbourhood will be a lot more valuable to you than someone who’ll drive all over the GTA for a commission cheque. Top agents know what they know AND they know what they don’t know. Be wary of a REALTOR offering to sell your downtown home AND help you buy a home in Oakville.
2. Hire Experience
Real estate is a profession with a fairly low barrier to entry, meaning it’s relatively simple for someone to get a real estate license. What isn’t simple, however, is being a good REALTOR (let alone a great REALTOR). Thousands of new agents get their license every year – do you want to be their guinea pig? A shocking number of Toronto REALTORS sell one property per year – do you want to be their one sale? Ask the important questions: How long have you been the business? How many homes do you sell a year?
3. Hire Expertise
Selling old Toronto houses is different than selling sky-high towers. Representing a Seller is different than representing a Buyer. Buying a commercial property is completely different than buying a residential home. What is your prospective REALTOR’s expertise?
4. Be Suspicious of a REALTOR with a Second Job
Great REALTORS work in their business full-time – in fact, most work long hours, 7 days a week. When they aren’t working with clients, they’re out inspecting properties and neighbourhoods and keeping on top of what’s happening in the market. Part-time agents are a dime a dozen (and worth about as much, at least in the minds of these full-time REALTORS!)
5. Don’t Work with Friends or Family
Yes, everyone has a friend in real estate, or worse, knows a guy who knows a girl who’s married to a guy who just got his license – but business and friendship rarely ever mix. If you can fire your friend and not damage the friendship, then, by all means, hire away. But it usually doesn’t turn out that way.
6. You Get What You Pay for
In Toronto, real estate services come in all shapes and sizes: you can merely list your property on MLS for $150 and do everything yourself; you can list with a discount broker who provides limited services; or you can list with a full-service broker and get the staging, marketing, expertise and strategy that comes with higher commissions. Decide what you need, what you’re prepared to pay for and pick accordingly.
7. Houses Don’t Just Sell Themselves
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that simply putting a listing on MLS will result in the highest possible price. Ask a lot of questions about staging, marketing, pricing and strategy – and make sure they’re on top of new techniques and technology.
8. Ask For Recommendations of Great REALTORS
People are more likely to buy a product that their friend likes – and for good reason. Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations of REALTORS they’ve had great experiences with.
9. Past Performance is the Best Predictor of Future Performance
Check online for recommendations and reviews of the best agents in Toronto – there are thousands of reviews on Google, Yelp and Zillow. Ask your prospective agent for testimonials – better yet, ask if you can call or e-mail their past clients for feedback. And always ask a prospective REALTOR what percentage of their business comes from repeat clients and referrals – that’s one of the best ways to gauge how happy their clients truly are.
10. Who Are You Actually Hiring?
Some top agents will meet with you once, then pawn you off to their assistants. If your goal is to hire the best agent, make sure that you’ll actually get to work with them.
11. Great REALTORS Have Great Partners
Experienced Agents have amassed a team of trusted partners, from lenders to lawyers to contractors. Your relationship with your REALTOR should extend long past the closing date and you should never hesitate to reach out if you need a plumber, electrician, roofer or handyman.
12. Get a Second Opinion
Did you know that 73% of people hire the first agent they talk to? Get a second opinion. (shameless plug: get in touch with BREL)