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.
- An active listener
You want to ensure that when you speak, your agent listens to you and takes your wants and needs into full consideration. Your agent will represent you in what is sure to be one of your life’s biggest purchases or sales, so it’s crucial to make sure they understand your priorities. Look for an agent who remembers your list of wishes, contacts you when they see something that suits your needs, and who does not monopolise your discussions. Typically, good agents are good salespeople, but make sure they’re not trying to sell you for your own needs. It’s time to start looking for another agent, if you don’t feel listened to.
- Good references or referrals
There’s no quicker way to find out what your real estate agent can expect from you than by contacting their previous customers. When assessing agents, some buyers and sellers skip this step, but we would highly recommend taking the time to get honest feedback. Agents, preferably in the cities you are looking at, should come to list appointments or meetings equipped with recent references. If a friend or family member has referred your potential real estate agent to you, make sure you ask them in detail about how the agent operated on each of the nine other points on this list.
- Honesty, especially in difficult situations
This can be difficult to gauge, but finding an honest agent whose opinion you can trust is extremely important. The experience and opinion of your agent about making or accepting offers should be extremely valuable to you, but that will only be the case if you can trust them fully to operate in your best interest. You want to find an agent who will tell you their honest opinion, even if they know their thoughts will not be received pleasantly, so that with as much information as possible, you can truly make decisions. When making difficult decisions, an honest agent who stands by his or her instincts is indispensable.
It’s fairly easy to tell whether or not an agent is passionate about their job and the real estate industry in general, unlike some of the other items on this list. Before you find your dream home, you want an agent who is excited about getting the highest bid possible on your listing, or who is combing through new listings. They should know the latest trends in the Canadian real estate market and really enjoy talking with you about them. It should be an enjoyable process to buy or sell your home, and a good real estate agent who is passionate about their work can make all the difference.
- Negotiation skills
A good real estate agent pays for himself, they say, and the bargaining table is the place where this can really happen. It takes a good understanding of both the seller’s situation and the negotiation style of the listing agent to read whether you should make a strong offer, a counter-offer, or a low offer. Pricing a listing properly on the other side of things 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 necessary negotiating skills to get you a good offer, or to accept your offer.
- Someone with support
If you’re a home buyer for the first time, you might be surprised at just how many people during your home buying process you’ll need to be introduced to. During the 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. An agent who has established such strong relationships is likely to be someone who is respected in the industry, which should give you trust when negotiating on your behalf.
- Effective communication skills
Take note of how you are spoken to by your potential agent, how they treat other individuals, and how they communicate on social media with the world. You want to make sure that your agent can sell efficiently, which requires the ability to clearly communicate. One of the best ways to judge this is to see how, when you meet them, they sell themselves. You’ve probably discovered a good communicator that will represent you well if they make a strong case for you to use their services.
- A strong online presence
You should also take a look at their online profiles to see how they sell themselves, and their client homes, online, not just evaluate your agent in person. Check to see if they have a social media follower, featured website profiles such as REW, and where their previous listings were shared online. Typing their previous sales addresses into Google Search will help give you an idea of where, if you list with them, you can expect to see your property online.
- Decisions based on data
You want to make sure they back up their views and suggestions with hard data when you speak to a potential agent. Select an inside and out agent who knows the market, and don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about your field of interest and see what kind of knowledge and insight they have. It doesn’t have to be a formal pop quiz, but it’s important to make sure that your agent knows the area you want to buy or sell in.
To be clear, we’re not suggesting you should only work with 20-year industry veterans. 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.