How To Find A Good Agent
With so many agents to choose from you may feel overwhelmed. Their profiles are very similar and look like self-flattering assessments decorated with a smiley photo.
However, agents have diifferent levels of skills and experience. Finding a good agent takes some time and acumen. But first, we have to elaborate on agents a little more for better understanding how they work and what makes them so important when it comes to home buying and selling.
Who Are Agents, Brokers And Realtors
Real estate professionals working as agents are divided into three groups :
Sales Associate (or simply an agent) is a licensed home trade specialist. Every agent must have a broker. When you enlist an agent, you'll enter into a contractual relationship with a broker.
Broker - Broker's licence requires more qualifications, beyond those of an agent. A broker is an employer of agents and a manager, who can also work as an agent.
Realtor - Brokers and agents who are members of the Canadian Real Estate Association can acquire the designation of a realtor through further training and licensing. They have to comply with the association's strict code of ethics protecting homebuyers and sellers.
Should you give your preference to any designation when shopping for an agent? Not necessarily. Training and certificates have a secondary significance. The quality of an agent depends more on personal abilities, honesty and hands-on experience.
How Agents Can Represent You
Agents can also be classified depending on whom they represent in the transaction. Most of the time they work either as the seller's agent or the buyer's agent.
Seller's agents receive a commission from the seller when a house is sold. Buyer's agents get paid out of the seller's agent commission with a routine 50/50 split. Agents share the money their broker, who usually takes 25% of what they make.
Regardless of the role, the agent has a fiduciary duty to negotiate the best deal as possible for the client. But how much this noble principle is reflected by the reality depends on the agent's quality and integrity.
Sometimes the seller and the buyer will have the same agent, or two different agents reporting to the same broker.
This situation is called a dual agency. If you accept it, you'll give up on your right to the agent's undivided loyalty. That means the agent can't help you negotiate the price and the terms, or reveal to you any private information which may impact your decision.
Dual agents earn a full commission from buying and selling at the same time in a single transaction. Since it's very profitable you may end up being talked into a deal which doesn't serve your best interest.
How To Pre-Select Agents
While there're plenty of agents only a small portion of that crowd deserves your attention. The truth about agents is that 20% of them does 80% of business.
The elite stays on the top because they are experienced and honest, and provide genuine value with their services. Your aim is to recruit an agent within that group.
Once you compile a preliminary list of agents who caught you attention, send them a quick email. Explain you reasons and ask them two simple questions: How many homes did you sell and buy in the last year? How many active listings do you have now?
This will narrow your selection to a very few candidates. Invite at least three of them, one by one to your home to have a chat.
Meet Agents And Ask Questions
Right questions will help you to decide whom to hire. Otherwise, you may only be told what an agent wants you to hear, and that may not be enough to make a good choice.
If you are not a first-time home buyer and have a house to sell than there are more issues to think about and discuss with an agent before you sign a listing contract.
Why To Have An Agent
Agents possess tools, skills, knowledge and experience which you don't have. More specifically, if you hire one of them you'll be assissted by a professional who can provide the following services:
MLS - Agents have an exclusive access to the Multiple Listing System, where an overwhelming majority of home trades originates. It's the most effective real estate marketing resource, a database of properties agents use to sell and buy homes for their clients.
Although MLS listings can be seen online by everyone at realtor.ca, this website doesn't have the same quality. Not all MLS homes are listed there, and certain property details aren't available. This way agents don't give out all essential benefits of the MLS for free and keep their services in demand.
Furthermore, some publicly viewable listings are outdated. They serve the purpose of soliciting cold calls from potential buyers. So, instead of finding a house with realtor.ca you may stumble on an agent who tries to fish you.
Convenience - Hiring a pro will save your time. An agent will find you a house which meets your criteria, and sell your home if you already have one. You don't have to bother with making arrangements for viewing properties. All the hassle is on your agent.
Price - You'll receive a professional opinion on how much a house is worth, when you either buy or sell. Agents are trained to estimate home values with the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), based on sales data for silimar homes in the same area.
CMA is a little less accurate than a full property apparisal, but still good enough to get you on the right track.
Guidance - Home trades are complex, often tricky. There're many pitfalls awaiting a novice which may have far reaching consequences, and you won't be alone throughout the whole process.
Transaction Quality - All decisions on how you sell or buy will be yours. However, your agent can advise you on transaction merits, according to his or her knowledge.
Negotiations - Someone who already closed a lot of transactions is most likely a better deal maker than you. Seasoned agents are well-versed in choosing strategies and arguments, and they know how to bargain with other agents.
Contract - An agent will draft you an offer or review it if you are selling. Then, he or she will take care of your contract. You will have an expert advice on what conditions you can make or agree to, and when they can safely be removed.
Coordination - There are many parties involved, as well a great deal of documents. An efficient agent, like a good manager will stay on the top of all proceedings to ensure a timely closing.