Home sellers are becoming more switched on than ever before. However, choosing a real estate agent can still be challenging given that in the last census, real estate topped the labour force together with finance and insurance in Markham. There are a lot of agents to choose from and as in most areas of life, some are great, some are good and some just do the minimum required. Here are 9 questions you should ask a realtor before you sign up with them to help you find one of the few superstars who will go the extra mile for you.
1. What Experience Do You Have?
Asking this question rather than ‘How long have you been an Estate Agent?’ will give you a more accurate idea of expertise in the field. Some agents have been licenced for years but will only have sold one or two properties a year, therefore the length of time they have been working may not mean very much. Going a little deeper will help you to ascertain if this person has enough experience to help and guide you through this rather stressful experience.
2. What is Your Success Rate?
Success is measured in all kinds of ways in different industries. In real estate there are 3 things here to ask:
How long do your listings take to sell compared to the average days on the market?
This will give you an idea of how quickly an agent can sell your home. To find out what the average in the area is, click here to see the Toronto Real Estate Market statistics for the past month.
What is your average sale-to-list ratio?
This ratio is the difference between how much a home is originally listed for compared to its sale price. If the ratio is 100%, a home sells for exactly the price it was listed for. Under 100% for a home selling below its listed price and over 100% for a home that sold for over the listed price. You will want to compare this to the average in the area and ask if an agent reports their number as below the average as there may be a good reason for this.
What is your total sales volume for the past year?
Together with the answers to the other 2 questions above this will give you a good idea of a successful agent.
3. Can I see your references?
A great agent will be able to direct you to talk to past clients so that you can get an idea of not just what their success rate is but how they manage to do it! You will be working closely with this person for a few months at least and so you need to know if they are a good match for you to work with. Do they have good attention to detail? Did they live up to expectations? What was it about them that made them choose this agent over others? How did they smooth the journey of relocation? Make sure not all of these clients are family members and friends of the agent so that you can get a rounded unbiased viewpoint.
4. In what neighbourhoods do you specialise?
Knowledge of the local market is essential for a real estate agent, so you need to know that they are an expert in your neighbourhood and the area. A true expert will know all about the recent transactions around you, what is desirable in your neighbourhood and why anyone would want to live there. They will be able to tell you how much you can reasonably expect to sell your home for, how long it will take to sell and what the market trends in the area have been in recent months.
5. How many clients are you representing at the moment?
It may be compelling to choose an agent based on how prolific their advertising is or if they proclaim themselves as the ‘Number 1 Agent’ in the area. In many cases, these agents are usually running a team of other agents which gives them priority on search engine placement and the means to maintain visibility with huge marketing campaigns. It is important to give priority to agents whose work ethics and communication styles are in line with your expectations. Agents with lots of other clients will also have a heavy workload so it is important to be clear on who their team members are, and how much they themselves will be involved with your home sale. If you feel they will be delegating too much for your comfort levels, then try another agent.
6. How Will You Market My Home?
Realtors have great resources for marketing homes. Your realtor should talk about a For Sale sign on your lawn, posting your home on the multiple listing service (MLS), printed ads in brochures and flyers, and give you a list of websites your home will be listed on. They should also talk about social media advertising and some realtors pay for access to digital media presentations that can be embedded on websites and social media to showcase your home to its full potential. Your agent will have plans for open house showings and discuss when and the amount of these days that would work with your schedule.
7. How Much Do You Charge and What is Included in the Fee?
Most realtors take a percentage of the home’s final sale price. This percentage varies a little from agent to agent, but it typically is around 5% of the selling price. Usually, about half of this amount is given to the buyer’s agent. As this can be quite a sum, the agent may be willing to negotiate this.
If you are willing to sell your home and buy your new home with the same agent, then they may discount their fee or if the market is booming and the house is likely to sell quickly, again they may be more open to negotiations.
Also, it is a good idea to check the agent’s cancellation policy – things change quickly and if someone you know wants to buy your home, you would want to check if the realtor would still be entitled to the full commission. Or if you want to change agents in the future, you should know if there is an early cancellation fee. Ask how your realtor has dealt with these situations in the past.
8. How Will You Keep Me Updated?
Communication is always key to a successful relationship! You need to know beforehand how your real estate agent will keep you in the loop. This includes feedback from the people who have had showings at your property, arrangements for home inspections, checking on paperwork, keeping on top of things like repairs, insurance, title searches etc. You will need to know what kind of news will you be receiving, how often and in what format. Do you have a preference and can your agent accommodate you with that?
You will also need to know how you can contact your agent with any questions or concerns throughout the process. It’s ok to ask them if they keep business hours or if they are available outside those hours. Also, if they are not available when you call, how long do they generally take to return calls or emails? Any agent is likely to respond positively when you ask about communication but it is always best to verify this when you check their references.
9. What are the drawbacks to my home?
This is a great question to ask! Not only can you determine if the agent is trying to charm their way into a contract by telling you nothing but positives, you can also get an idea if they really know their stuff. They should point out (tactfully) where you can improve your home for selling and give you reasons why you should do the work. Even if you don’t hire that particular agent, you will have a ‘to-do’ list to make a start on.
Choosing an agent who is right for you can be a little daunting. There are so many of them out there is it easy to become slightly overwhelmed by it all! However, if you focus on these 9 questions you should ask your realtor before you sign, you will get a very good idea of their accumen, professionalism and integrity. Once you feel safe about those things, then you can trust you gut on who you feel you would work best with for this large transaction. You may even enjoy working with them enough to choose them for your next move too!