According to research by the National Association of Realtors, there are huge benefits to working with a real estate agent, including higher sale prices. However, every homebuyer and seller would be wise to do some “home work” to find a real estate agent who knows his or her market and who has a proven track record. Treat your vetting process like you would a job interview: ask lots of questions, and don’t settle until you’re satisfied with the answers.
Here are seven starter questions that should be on your list.
#1 What is your area of focus?
By “area” we mean city or neighbourhood, but also the type of property: condo or detached, recreational, luxury, investment, fixer-upper or brand new. Also, some agents specialize in sales while others focus on purchases or rentals. Just like in medicine, a general practitioner can probably handle a typical transaction, but there are specialists who may be better equipped to help you seal the deal.
#2 Are you a full-time real estate agent?
Someone dabbling in the business part-time to make some extra money might lack the knowledge and the time required to market and show your property, and to negotiate the best deal on your behalf.
#3 How many other clients are you currently working with?
If it’s a high number, question whether the agent will have the time to devote to you and your needs. On the flip-side, if the answer is zero, that could be a red flag that this particular agent may not have the experience or level of success that you’re looking for.
#4 Do you have references?
Ask for a few names and numbers of past clients, and call them to help determine if the agent is worth the commission they charge. This leads us to the next question…
#5 What’s your commission rate?
There’s no set commission rate for real estate agents in Canada, so this is a good questions to ask. An average Canadian home priced at $540,000 (CREA, February 2020), at a four-per-cent commission rate, is $21,600. It’s important to remember that cheaper isn’t necessarily better. A cut-rate agent may also fall short in the service department. On the flip side, you may be able to negotiate the commission fee, so it’s definitely a discussion point.
#6 How will you market my home?
That ‘For Sale’ sign on the front lawn is great and all, but it just scratches the surface when it comes to selling strategies. Will the home be listed on the Multiple Listings System? What about social media marketing, like Facebook? Online virtual tours? Print advertising, like newspaper ads or flyers? Open houses? The more eyes see your property for sale, the better.
#7 What’s your sold-to-list price ratio?
This number will tell you how close the agent has come to asking price. Aim high on this one, folks!
A home is likely the most significant financial transaction you’ll make in your lifetime. Finding the right real estate agent will go a long way to making it a smooth and successful one.