Whether you're buying or selling a home, you need the right kind of partner.
Finding the right real estate agent to represent you can be challenging. There are many agents to choose from and almost every homeowner you meet will have a recommendation. It may take a bit of time, but interviewing and evaluating agents is worth every minute. Buying or selling a home is no small task, so you want to make sure you get the right person in your corner. Here are 10 essential things to look for in a real estate agent.
10 Things to Look for in a Real Estate Agent
An active listener
Good references or referrals
Strong online presence
Decisions based on data
1. An active listener
You want to make sure that your agent listens to you when you speak and takes your wants and needs into full consideration. Your agent will be representing you in what’s sure to be one of the largest purchases or sales of your life, so making sure they understand your priorities is crucial. Look for an agent that remembers your wish list, contacts you when they see something that fits your needs, and who doesn’t monopolize your conversations. Good agents are typically good salespeople, but make sure they don’t try to sell you out of your own needs. If you don’t feel heard, it’s time to start looking for another agent.
2. Good references or referrals
There’s no quicker way to find out what you can expect from your real estate agent than by contacting their previous clients. Some buyers and sellers skip this step when evaluating agents, but we’d highly recommend putting the time into getting honest feedback. Agents should come to listing appointments or meetings equipped with recent references, preferably in the cities you’re looking at. If your potential real estate agent was referred to you by a friend or family member, make sure you ask them in detail about how the agent operated on each of the nine other points on this list.
3. Honesty, especially in difficult situations
This can be hard to gauge, but it’s extremely important to find an honest agent whose opinion you can trust. Your agent’s experience and opinion on making or accepting offers should be extremely valuable to you, but that will only be the case if you can fully trust them to operate in your best interest. You want to find an agent who will tell you their honest opinion even when they know their thoughts won’t be pleasantly received so that you can truly make decisions with as much information as possible. An honest agent that stands by his or her instincts is indispensable when making difficult decisions.
Unlike some of the other items on this list, it’s fairly easy to tell whether or not an agent is passionate about their job and the real estate industry in general. You want an agent who is excited about getting the highest offer possible on your listing, or who is combing through new listings before you are to find you your dream home. They should know the latest Canadian real estate market trends and truly relish discussing them with you. Buying or selling your home should be an enjoyable process, and a good real estate agent who is passionate about their job can make all the difference.
5. Negotiation skills
They say a good real estate agent pays for him/herself, and the negotiation table is the place where this can really happen. Reading whether you should make a strong offer, a counter-offer, or a low offer requires a good understanding of both the seller’s situation and the listing agent’s negotiation style. On the other side of things, pricing a listing properly is somewhat of an art form that can set the stage for a successful negotiation and timely sale. Be sure that your agent has the negotiating skills needed to get you a good offer, or to get your offer accepted.
6. Someone with support
If you’re a first time home buyer, you might be surprised by just how many people you’ll need to be introduced to during your home buying process. Your agent should be able to recommend a notary, a mortgage broker, a home inspector, and any other potential service providers you may need during the home buying process. An agent who has built these kinds of strong relationships is likely someone respected in the industry, which should give you confidence when they are negotiating on your behalf.
7. Effective communication skills
Take note of how your potential agent speaks to you, how they treat other people, and how they communicate with the world on social media. You want to make sure your agent will be able to sell effectively which requires the ability to communicate clearly. One of the best ways to judge this is to see how they sell themselves when you meet them. If they make a strong case for you to use their services, you’ve likely found a good communicator that will represent you well.
8. A strong online presence
Don’t just evaluate your agent in person, you should also take a look at their online profiles to see how they’re selling themselves, and their client homes, online. Check to see if they have a following on social media, featured profiles on websites like REW, and where their previous listings were shared online. Typing their past sales addresses into Google Search will help give you an idea of where you can expect to see your property online if you list with them.
9. Decisions based on data
When you speak to a potential agent, you want to make sure they’re backing up their opinions and suggestions with hard data. Select an agent that knows the market inside and out, and don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about your area of interest and see what type of knowledge and insight they possess. It doesn’t have to be a formal pop quiz, but making sure your agent knows the area you want to buy or sell in is important.
Experience is certainly not everything, but having it is an asset that you should take into account when evaluating potential agents. Your agent should be able to provide you with examples of past buying and selling experiences that lead to positive outcomes. You also want to make sure that they know and have good relationships with other industry professionals, as they could be negotiating with them in the near future on your behalf.
If you find an agent that ticks off the 10 boxes above, you should be in for a great experience.