With markets everywhere still reeling from the last two years of high appreciation rates and low inventory, finding the right house for you is going to take some professional guidance. Look for real estate agents who know the area you’re interested in, whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Toronto or some small town outside Vancouver. Be careful who you choose because not every agent out there is the right agent for you. It’s important to ask the right questions to find the right person. To guide you on that path we’ve compiled 9 questions to ask before hiring a real estate agent.
1. How Long Have You Been An Agent?
Everybody’s gotta be new at something, but if you’re about to put a few hundred thousand dollars on the line for a house you’ll want to work with someone with at least a couple years of experience.
2. Will you walk me through your work process
Assuming your prospective agent enjoys talking about themselves, they should go on for ten minutes at a time answering this question. You want to ask this question because A. it will give you an idea of what to expect in your working relationship with this agent, and B. you’ll know whether your agent has a solid understanding of themselves and their jobs.
3. How Well Do You Know the Area?
Before you even contact an agent, you should have a fair idea of the neighbourhood(s) you’re interested in moving to. Once you have a few places in mind, ask any prospective agents how well they know the area you’re looking at. You need someone who knows the local market intimately so that when they see a favourable change in the wind or real estate, you can take advantage of it quickly!
4. Do you work alone or with a team?
When it comes to real estate, the more help you can get, the better. Hiring a real estate agent is like hiring an extra brain to help you through the buying process. If your agent works with a team, that’s more brains to source help from! You want to ask an agent this question to get an idea of the resources they can bring to bear, and if you’re going to be dealing with other people besides them throughout the buying process.
5. Can you recommend me a [lawyer, contractor, inspector, etc.]
More people are involved in the homebuying process than just you, the seller, and your respective agents. A whole cast and crew of third parties perform key roles every step of the way to you moving into your new house. When you interview agents, make sure they know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, and on and on. You want a well-connected agent because a well-connected agent speeds everything up and smooths out any bumps on the road to homeownership.
6. Are you a full-time agent or part-time?
Obviously, you want your agent to be full-time. You want the full amount of their attention eight hours a day. But even with a full-time agent, that’s probably not going to be the case. A part-time agent who only works with one buyer at a time might be better than a full-time agent who juggles several clients at once. If you’re interviewing an agent with decades of experience in the area you’re interested in, but they only work part-time, it might still be a good idea to go through with them. With all that said, our final say on the matter is that you should prioritize full-time agents over part-time.
7. Do You Work With Both Buyers and Sellers?
Getting an agent who knows both sides of the real estate market will make everything easier. You want an agent who can think like a seller and a buyer, often at the same time. It’s not the end of the world if the agent only focuses on buying or selling, or feels more comfortable with one or the other, but if you can find someone who does both, that’s a big plus.
8. How do you handle multiple offers?
If you’re looking into a market like Toronto’s, you absolutely must ask this question because you probably won’t find a house that doesn’t have multiple offers already on it. Your agent needs to be ready, willing, and able to negotiate with the seller to give you a shot against the competition. Much like their work process, your agent should be able to answer this question off the cuff.
We also want to touch on the likelihood that if your agent focuses on a few particular neighbourhoods in any given area, you’re probably not the only client they’re working with. In the event that the house you want already has multiple offers on it, there’s a decent chance that your agent is representing one of those competing buyers.
That’s a tricky situation, isn’t it? This leads us to our next question.
9. Can we have a Non-Disclosure Agreement?
A Non-Disclosure Agreement (also called a confidentiality clause) protects your information from being shared with any other clients that your real estate agent is working with. With a confidentiality agreement, all the bids and maximum offers that you make throughout the buying process are for “your eyes only.” Without a confidentiality clause, it would be like showing everyone else your cards when playing poker.
Now that you know the right questions to ask, here are 8 things to do before calling a real estate agent.