An agent may be a good fit for your friend or colleague, but it doesn’t mean you two will be a match made in heaven. Interview at least three agents. Go prepared with a list of questions—this will help you determine whether you’re a good match (more on this below). Here are tips for hiring a rock star agent:
- Familiarity: It’s important to find an agent who is familiar with the neighbourhood you want to buy in and the types of properties (house, condo, townhouse) you’re looking at. You don’t want to use an agent familiar only with downtown condos to look at houses in the suburbs.
- Availability: The home-buying process can happen at a breakneck pace. You want an agent who will return phone calls and emails in a timely manner if not faster. If your agent is MIA, you could lose out on your dream home. Hopefully the agent will first take the time to see homes in the neighbourhood to find out if they’re worth your visiting.
- A good fit: You’ll want an agent who’s not only a good personal fit but a good professional fit. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you’ll want an agent who will take the time to walk you through the basics. If you’ve bought and sold homes before, you might want someone less hands-on but who knows the market like the back of their hand.
- Agent complaints: Check with the regulator in the jurisdiction you’re buying in (e.g., RECO in Ontario) to make sure no disciplinary action is being taken against the agent.
Four Questions to Ask an Agent Before Signing On
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been to plenty of job interviews. Turn the tables and treat meetings with agents like job interviews—theirs. Sample questions to ask agents include:
1 How long have you been an active agent? The word active is key—you want an agent who’s familiar with the current real estate market. Even if an agent has 20 years’ experience, if they’ve only sold two homes in the last five years, you might think twice before using them.
2 How many homes have you listed and sold in the last year? A successful agent should be ready and willing to share this information. If the agent has sold less than four homes, this should raise a red flag.
3 Will I be working directly with you? If you’re working with a team, find out whether you’ll be working with the team lead or a more junior agent.
4 May I have three references? A successful agent should have no problem having you contact satisfied buyers and sellers about them. Ask for three of the most recent closes and speak to those people directly.
Review the answers of agents in the comfort of your own home before making your final decision.
About the Author
Sean Cooper is the bestselling author of the book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. An in-demand Personal Finance Journalist, Money Coach and Speaker, his articles and blogs have been featured in publications such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Financial Post and MoneySense. Connect with Sean on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.