Following is an article I wrote that was recently published in Parliament Street News, Real Estate Marketing (REM) Magazine and the Manitoba Real Estate Association Newsletter.
THE MOST IMPORTANT REAL ESTATE DECISION WHEN SELLING OR BUYING A HOME:
Hire the right Realtor.
Whether you are a buyer or seller, chances are you'll be using the services of a Realtor. They bring immense value to one of life's most important transactions. Much money and much legal risk are at play when a property changes hands and they gingerly direct you through this maze with knowledge and experience, if you chose wisely.
How do you choose a Realtor? Are you haphazard about it and use the first agent you meet at an open house? Or one from a flyer that land on your doorstep? Perhaps you'll visit a few open houses and find someone you like and feel comfortable with. Some will hire the cheapest, regardless of their skill or experience. Maybe your neighbours told you about one they love. Perhaps you're on a committee at your local school with a Realtor. And then there's the “my niece just got her real estate license and needs a break” approach. Or are you a hands-on or detail oriented person who researches the market for the best fit?
Regardless of the option you use, you can be assured that every agent operates under the umbrella of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). They are all licensed and insured and must adhere to provincial laws (which include a Code of Ethics). In short, they are held accountable for the advice and information they provide.
I've had the privilege of working side-by-side and across the table with hundreds of my fellow Realtors these past 25+ years and have learned everything about being a successful Realtor from them. By watching and listening, I've learned what to do and say, what not to do and say, how to act and how not to act. I know how agents sell their listings for the most money with the fewest problems, and I know why. I know what it takes for agents to maintain a high level of professionalism in their day-to-day affairs and have witnessed how this can be a great benefit to their clients.
So if I can for a moment don the hat of a buyer or seller, this is what I would do to find the best Realtor to represent me in a real estate transaction.
The very first thing would be to ask for a recommendation from a friend or neighbour you trust, preferably someone who recently bought or sold. The industry changes almost daily, so a recent success story has more value than a 5-year old one.
Google the candidate and explore the links with rigour. I know that most agents Google their clients so here's a “right back at ya” moment.
After studying their online brand and presentation material, before you sign anything, ask yourself the following:
Do they spend generously on their marketing and presentation? Is their marketing material professional and of the highest quality? Do they present themselves, and more importantly the houses they sell in the most professional way? In short, do they spend the money necessary to sell a house or condo for the highest dollar?
Are they forthcoming with information about the process of buying or selling? Do they provide current “evidence”, i.e. comparative market analysis to support the price of a home you're buying or selling? You can choose to use this data or not. It is however important that it be available to you.
Are they involved in the community, in the city? It's no surprise that the agents who are the most engaged in the world around them have more knowledge about what's going on in the marketplace.
Are they consistent? Do they offer the same service to the $300,000.00 condo owner that they do to the $2,000,000.00 home owner?
Is their focus themselves (“look at the awards I've won”) or their service?
If you value education and the effort involved, Broker is the highest designation in real estate education and you might want to look for that.
Are they punctual?
Do they do what they say they will do?
After sorting through this maze of information, I'm sure you'll settle on the Realtor you feel most comfortable with. We're not like your plumber who visits the house for an hour or so to fix your faucet. Both the buying and selling process can involve spending a lot of time with each other. It helps a great deal if we enjoy each other's company.