This GIF pretty much sums up the role of the Buyer’s Agent in real estate:
The Buyer Agent’s job is to get you from Point A (Would-be Buyer) to Point B (Happy Home Owner) safely. More specifically, it’s their job to:
1. Educate You About the Neighbourhood
Choosing your next neighbourhood is one of the most fun parts of buying a home, and your agent will play a critical role in educating you about the pros and cons of Toronto’s various neighbourhoods. Your agent will help you understand the neighbourhood schools, crime rate, transportation options, demographics, nearby restaurants/shops/services and the trends that are happening in that neighbourhood. [Related: Choosing a Neighbourhood]
2. Perform Due Diligence on the Property
A big part of a Buyer Agent’s role is helping you do your due diligence on the property. That will involve:
- Fully investigating the property: going into the scary basement, looking for telltale signs of knob and tube wiring or Kitec plumbing and referring you to outside professionals as necessary
- Asking the important questions: Has the house been treated for termites? Have there been any water issues in the basement? Were the renovations completed with permits? Are there any issues with the neighbours?
- Finding out about the ongoing costs of the property (hydro, heat, water, etc.)
One of the Buyer Agent’s most important jobs is to make sure you don’t buy the WRONG house.
3. Negotiate Price and Contract Terms
The Buyer agent works for the Buyer, so their job is to negotiate the lowest possible price with the best possible terms for the Buyer. The Buyer’s Agent will look at the price history of the homes you’re interested in, the prices of comparable homes in the neighbourhood and what’s happening right now in the market. They’ll understand how the differences between properties affect value (for example, lot size, the number of bathrooms, finishes or view) and will be able to guide you accordingly. Your agent will look to protect you by making your offer conditional on, for example, obtaining suitable financing or performing a home inspection and they’ll understand the current local market conditions that might mean having to do that due diligence before the offer.
4. Help you Find the Home
Long ago, a Buyer’s Agent’s primary role was to introduce properties to buyers. There was a magical book that contained all the homes for sale, and if you wanted to buy a house, you hired an agent to find out what was for sale. Enter the internet. Today’s Buyers are often identifying the homes they are interested in themselves…but that doesn’t mean that Buyer Agents don’t play an important role in locating homes. Sometimes that means introducing the perfect home that was overlooked because it didn’t fit the initial criteria or neighbourhood or finding an opportunity to buy a house that seemed out of budget (but really won’t be after negotiations). Fact: what you think you want when you begin your home search is often not what you decide to buy in the end.
5. But Wait! There’s More!
A Buyer’s Agent will also:
- Help you determine your needs and priorities
- Reduce financial surprises by helping you determine the full cost of buying a property and the ongoing costs of owning it [Related: Closing Costs]
- See ‘potential’ in a home and suggest ways you can increase the value of your home
- Connect you with the best lawyers, lenders and home inspectors
- Be an ongoing resource for connecting you with home professionals to help once you own the home
But Does Who I Hire Matter?
Make no mistake about it: who you hire to represent you on the purchase of a home MATTERS. Who you choose to work with will impact the choice of the home you buy, the neighbourhood you buy it in and how much you pay. It can mean the difference between:
- Overpaying for a home vs paying market value
- Buying a condo in a building filled with university students vs buying a condo housing professional couples like you
- Unknowingly buying a house that will cost you $50K in surprise repairs vs knowing before you buy
- Losing money on your real estate investment vs being cash-positive
Want to know more about hiring an agent to represent your Toronto real estate purchase? Check out: 10 Big Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Buyer Agent.