Why does finding the right real estate agent matter?
Finding the right real estate agent will bring you the best result and get you where you need to go with the whole process. To get the best outcome, you need to hire the right people for you. Choosing someone you trust is very important, of course, but so is choosing someone competent, who knows what they’re doing, and who really understands the product you’re interested in.
Keep in mind, “best” is a relative and subjective term. Someone new to the business who is honest with lots of energy and a strong work ethic, who’s being mentored by experienced, knowledgeable realtors, can often be better than the agent who’s been in the business for 15 years but isn’t that great. The thing to remember as a buyer is to hire the best agent for you to help you achieve your specific goal.
Should you look for a specific real estate agent depending on your purchase goal?
There are many different types of realtors for different types of transactions, so you should find one focused on what you’re looking for, specifically.
An investor will be more focused on ROI, rental insurance, rental rates, and ease of renting a place, whereas someone looking for a vacation or retirement home will have fewer financial needs. Someone looking for a single-family house, for instance, is best off to work with an agent who lives in and understands the community and has experience there, as opposed to someone who specializes in condos in a dense part of the city. Hiring a specialist who knows the product best will get you the best result.
Aside from experience, what makes a good real estate agent?
Honesty, integrity, transparency, and communicating in a reasonable time frame are all basic but important things. In real estate, time is of the essence – so, if you’re working with someone who disappears for a long time you could miss out on important opportunities. Being present, aware, and in touch with the market are also very important.
You will likely benefit from working with someone who’s assertive (not aggressive) and will speak up and be brutally frank when you need to hear something – even things you might not like. This is one way to tell you’re working with someone who has your best interests at heart.
Ultimately, you need to connect with an agent and feel comfortable with them and their service. The main goal is to build a long-term relationship so you’re confident making the best decision with the information they give you.
What are the steps to finding a good real estate agent?
1. Talk to a lender before you hire an agent
Talking to a lender or mortgage broker ahead of time can be very helpful. They know who the good and bad realtors are and can steer you toward someone who knows what they’re doing, which is very important.
2. Get realtor referrals from your network
Asking for referrals is a great thing. Referrals from friends and family can work out, but you always want to ensure the person referred is actually the best for you.
For example, your grandmother in West Vancouver might refer you to her realtor friend, Betty, who only works with single-family homes there over $10 million. But, you’re looking for a $700,000 condo in Richmond. Clearly, Betty is not the right person, but she can probably direct you to someone really good.
A good realtor who might not be the right fit because of what they do or specialize in will recognize this and refer you to someone who does what you’re looking for. The priority should always be on what the client needs, even if that means the first point of contact doesn’t get the business. The last thing you want is someone winging it because they’re broke and desperately need the business. It all comes back to their reputation and those desirable qualities of integrity, honesty, and transparency – this is all connected.
3. Check out realtor candidates in action at open houses
Going to see someone at an open house is great because you get a feel for what they’re like. You get an advantage from watching them work because they don’t know who you are, so you see them “in the wild”. That said, if you’re looking for someone more experienced or senior, they may not do open houses anymore. For properties that are, say, $5 million and up, the listing agent you’re interested in hiring may not run the open house, so you may not have a chance to meet them. Younger people may feel more comfortable with a younger agent, but these agents also could be mentored by someone more senior, which helps.
Really great realtors tend to grow their business and step away from the front line, having others take over in their place. So, you might get someone good at an open house, but not likely the best of the best. At the end of the day, it all depends on what you need and who you want to work with. You might get a great agent at an open house who has more time to give and is focused more on buyers than sellers, which could suit you well.
4. Do your research and go with your gut
You can get great insight into a realtor’s reputation from Google places and reviews – agents have no control over this source, so you can trust it.
Talk to different people and if you’re not happy, keep looking. Trust your gut – if you don’t click with someone, don’t hire them! Your basic approach, beliefs, and ideas need to align because you’ll be in an intense process together, and it should feel right. The process can be an emotional roller coaster, so you want to make sure you’re totally comfortable.