Finding the right Realtor isn’t as easy as searching “best Toronto real estate agent” into Google. Yes, you may find some qualified candidates, but an agent’s website or social media profile can’t tell you everything you simply need to know.
Choosing the ideal real estate agent when buying a home in Toronto requires a bit of research, and you may even need to speak with multiple Realtors directly to find out if they’re the right fit for you.
We at the $ell With $ue Team like to think of ourselves as the perfect group of real estate professionals for anyone seeking to buy a home in the GTA, but that may not be the case in certain circumstances. The right Realtor needs to match the client, and since every buyer is unique, what makes the perfect real estate representative can vary.
But because we want you to get into a new home as quickly as possible, we’ve jotted down some essential bits of information you should cover when deciding upon a Toronto-based Realtor, or anywhere you’re buying a home. Touch on these topics, and you’re sure to find the agent with the best able to help you, though we’re sure you’ll find that’s us!
What Level Of Experience Do They Have?
All too often will you see Realtors boasting about their decades of experience in the industry, making it seem like they’re a top-tier agent. Heck, we do it too, as Sue’s 35+ years in the Toronto real estate market is definitely a point of pride, but you shouldn’t take such numbers at face value.
For one, many Realtors may say that they’ve worked for over 20 years in the industry, just not as a full-time agent. Others may list a similarly high number of years of experience, but in a different housing market. With this in mind, be a little skeptical of a Realtor’s claim, because many may not be telling you the total truth (don’t worry, Sue is, as she’s always worked in the GTA).
Where Have They Worked Before?
As already alluded to, if a real estate agent has never worked in the area you’re looking to buy a house, they may not have the required skills and information to handle the deal properly.
You’re going to want a Realtor who is not only knowledgeable about your desired area, but surrounding neighbourhoods, too. When equipped with a strong knowledge of a general area, an agent can guide you more adeptly throughout the buying process.
Not only that, they may have already bought/sold houses in the area, thus giving you proven insight into the housing market climate of the neighbourhood. Plus, they may contacts in place that can facilitate the home-buying process.
Have They Purchased A Home For Themselves Recently?
Being a buyer is VERY different from being an agent, as you could imagine. But it’s not the buyer’s job to put themselves in the Realtor’s shoes, it’s the other way around.
But how can an agent empathize with a buyer’s needs if they’ve never been a buyer? The cold, hard truth is, they can’t.
Many agents do, however, buy property regularly, but isn’t always for personal use. This is a distinction you’re going to want to be aware of, as investing in real estate isn’t the same as buying, then moving into a home. The latter is far trickier with many more obstacles to overcome, and if a Realtor hasn’t done that in a long time, chances are they don’t remember the process all too well.
At the end of the day, you’re going to want a real estate agent who can understand the stressors of being a modern buyer. The above question will definitely let you know if a prospective agent is really capable of that.
Do They Have Clients With Testimonials? How Often Do They Get Referrals?
Two basic questions that add up to the same conclusion: is this real estate agent easy to work with?
If an agent can’t produce a single client testimonial, whether it be online or a simple name and number, then you should be somewhat suspect. Not only does this show that the agent’s past clients have never been pleased enough with their service to provide some kind words, it also demonstrates that the agent isn’t concerned with creating lasting relationships with their clients.
The amount of referrals a Realtor receives showcases the same thing. If the agent isn’t a pleasure to work with, they probably receive next to no referrals from past clients. Or conversely, if they’re anything like Sue who receives a majority of her business through past clients, then that demonstrates that the agent is efficient, adept, and altogether pleasant.
What Happens If The Agent Is Unavailable?
All too often have we heard horror stories of clients who have worked with part-time agents in the past, where the agent goes on vacation or the like, only to leave the client high-and-dry.
The same thing can happen to full-time agents too, of course, which is why every prospective buyer needs to inquire about contingency plans. Simply ask “who do I get in touch with when you’re not available” and you’ll have a good idea of how well you’ll be taken care of.
Unfortunately, most real estate agents work alone, and thus don’t have any backup representatives should they go on vacation, become unavailable, or if an emergency arises. That’s when working with a full team of real estate professionals comes in handy, because even if Sue isn’t able to make an appointment (though that rarely happens) another member of the $ell With $ue Team can stand in and ensure your needs are met.
Do They Have An Answering Service?
As Sue will tell you, in the 35+ years in the real estate industry, a majority of her time has been spent on the phone. Why? Simply because when you’re working with clients, there is a TON of back and forth, with many of the more demanding clients calling multiple times a day.
That isn’t to say you’ll need to call and agent 8 times in one day, but it could happen, and nothing is more frustrating then constantly getting a Realtor’s voicemail. By having an answering service in place, a Realtor is better able to respond to calls in a timely manner while making you feel reassured someone is going to respond back.
Some agents are quite exceptional in this regard, however, and can frequently answer calls without the need of a full-blown answering service. So don’t let a lack of a secretary deter you if the agent has demonstrated their ability in regularly answering their phone when you call, no matter the time.
Are They Familiar WIth Customized Agreements?
An important point to consider when assessing a Realtor’s experience is how they handle the offer itself. When you’ve handled as many deals as Sue, you no longer need to draft a basic offer that every Realtor on the market uses. The $ell With $ue Team has enough knowledge and expertise behind it to craft custom offers with the Buyer in mind, altering the agreement of purchase and sales to benefit you.
For example, the $ell With $ue Team will often insert a clause into an agreement allowing buyers to photograph or videotape any and all inclusions. With this, buyer’s have concrete evidence of how the home looked at the time of sale which can be used if anything is changed or damaged once you move in. You’d be surprised how often this happens.