How to choose a Realtor to work with

By Dustin Graham

Amazing! You’ve decided to sell your home and/or buy one. That’s very exciting. Now it’s time to hire a Realtor, but what's the best method for choosing one who will support your interests?

It’s no secret that virtually every market in Canada is saturated with licensed Realtors, so deciding on who to use can sometimes be a tricky task. Here are some simple tips to follow when determining what Realtor best suits your unique needs.

1. Don’t feel pressure to use someone just because they’re a friend or family member. Chances are you know a Realtor or know someone who knows one. That person may or may not be right for you, so be sure to do your homework before signing a contract. Don’t be afraid to show your appreciation, but kindly reject.

2. Check references. It’s surprising how rare this is. In all my time in the business I’ve never had a potential client ask me for references. This is a missed opportunity to weed out potential lack-lustre Realtors. It’s true that most references provided will be biased in favour of the Realtor, but if you listen carefully and ask the right questions you’ll often discover the truth – good or bad.   

3. Ask about their services. A highly trained and reputable Realtor should be able to speak confidently about their various service offerings. Many Realtors offer similar services, but often times the differentiator between a good Realtor and a great one is how the services are implemented.

4. Interview at least two or three Realtors. Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s always a good idea to speak to multiple Realtors before choosing one. In addition to the services they offer, you’ll want to be able to build a good rapport with your Realtor. Always remember, you could be working with your Realtor for weeks, months and sometimes years, so it’s critical to build a strong working relationship with him/her.

5. Examine a Realtor’s business model and track record. Some people are drawn to the highest performing Realtors or the largest real estate teams in the area. This is neither a positive or negative. Top-producing Realtors are very successful, but make sure they’re able to devote the required time to service your individual needs. Successful real estate teams are another option, but know who you’ll be working with; just because you want to work with the team leader doesn’t mean that’ll happen – it’s possible you’ll be “assigned” one of the team members.

6. Don’t pick a Realtor based on price. If you’re selling a home then it’s your responsibility to pay the Realtor(s) out of the proceeds of your home sale. There’s a growing trend in some markets (e.g. Greater Toronto Area) for consumers to focus too much on commission rates. The old adage “you get what you pay for” still holds true. If you decide to use a discount Realtor, than know what services will be included and excluded.

7. A Realtor should have knowledge of the area. Some will argue this point, but it’s my belief that any Realtor you decide to use should have knowledge of the area in which you’re buying and/or selling. This isn’t just about market stats, as these can be found from almost any location. Neighbourhood trends, future development, zoning by-laws, local activities, family services, personal interests, etc. are much harder to determine from afar, whereas local Realtors will likely be geared with this information or know where to access it easily.

8. Use multiple means to locate a Realtor. There are many ways to find a Realtor – Internet, referrals, newspapers, mailers, magazines, networking, etc. The more you search for a Realtor the more you’ll notice the differences. We may all look the same on the outside, but dig a little deeper and you’ll quickly find we’re not all made the same.

Dustin Graham is a sales representative with Re/Max and the leader of The Graham Partners team located in the west Greater Toronto Area.

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COMMENTS

  • by Claude Boiron 2015-04-27 8:10:11 PM

    Good points, Dustin!
    I'll just add that many consumers get push-back from some Realtors when they ask for references - they are either given written testimonials, or they are told that for privacy reasons they cannot be given clients' contact information.
    That's a load of bull!
    If I ask my client whether he's willing to speak to a few potential clients of mine over the phone, and he says "yes", then there are no privacy restrictions preventing me from giving his name and number to a select few people.
    I highly encourage consumers of Real Estate service providers to not just read testimonials, but to speak with past clients of the Realtors they are considering hiring.

  • by Dustin Graham 2015-06-01 2:26:10 PM

    Nicely put, Claude. Asking for a Realtor to provide "real-time" references is something consumers should take advantage of. I would have no issue asking any of my past clients if a prospective client could speak with them. Thanks for reading.

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