Buying a house in the Greater Toronto Area these days is akin to finding a needle in a haystack, only it’s not just you looking for the needle, it’s about a thousand other people too. You need an agent to help you find the needle, to get the house you want. There are a lot of real estate agents in Canada, so we’ve come up with a few tips for picking out the right agent for you.
Why You Need a Real Estate Agent In The First Place
Agents and the agencies they work for do a lot more than just help you buy a house. They help you work through all the legal minutiae and contracts that go with it. They put you in touch with home inspectors and repairmen. They put you in touch with lawyers that will help you negotiate your mortgage. And when the day comes when you want to sell your home, you’ll know an agent who can help you or put you in contact with someone who can.
A real estate agent is like hiring an extra brain whose only job is to focus on buying you a house. You hire that brain so that yours can focus on the other day-to-day necessities of life. It’s important to hire a good brain, but also a brain that you can get along with easily, communicate with easily, and work with easily. Most of all, you need an agent who can focus on your needs as a homebuyer more than any other. Here’s how you find the right one.
The best real estate agent in Toronto might not be the best real estate agent for the specific area you want to live in. If you know you want to live in Richmond Hill or Scarborough, search ‘real estate agents in x,” and go on from there. Don’t look for the best agents in Toronto; get more specific than that. You want someone with an in-depth, intimate knowledge of a particular area.
What do you actually do?
Try to find agencies that focus on the specific areas you’re looking for. Usually there will be some competition so you should be able to source agents from at least two or three different agencies. Try to get about six agents to choose from and set up a time for a phone call or in-person meeting with each of them.
As a homebuyer interested in a specific neighbourhood you’re hopefully well-versed in what that neighbourhood has to offer. When you interview your prospective agents, ask them questions about the neighbourhood you want to live in, make sure they know it as well as you do. If they don’t, cross them off your list and ask them for a referral to an agent who does know the area well.
Here’s a brief list of some good questions to ask.
- Have you sold houses in “x neighbourhood” before?
- Do you work full-time as an agent? (if the answer is no, reconsider going with this agent)
- How long have you been an agent? (usually aim for someone with at least two years of experience, unless you have a really good feeling about an inexperienced agent).
- Do you work alone or do you have a support staff?
Make sure that the agent is knowledgeable and confident of their work. Be selective and don’t be afraid to turn down one agent for another. They can handle it. In a market like Toronto real estate, there are plenty of buyers to go around.
Recap: What to Look for in an Agent
- Look for an agent who knows your desired area well.
- Look for an agent whose full-time job is being an agent.
- Look for an agent who has an up-to-date website with up-to-date MLS information
- Look for an agent with at least a couple of years of experience
- Look for an agent with who you can communicate easily and efficiently.
When To Get a Real Estate Agent
Our advice is to get an agent once you feel like you’re out of your depth during the home-seeking process. That moment is going to come at different times for different people, but it will happen. Some people go ahead and seek out an agent as soon as they’ve decided they want a home. Some people find the homes they’re interested in first and then get an agent.
You don’t need to be a real estate genius to browse for homes online, but if you want to go farther than that, you might need some extra help. One great thing to do before getting an agent is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will boost the homebuying process along and make both you and your agent’s life a whole lot easier.
If you’re moving to Toronto and looking for the best Toronto real estate agent, you’re in the right place. In Toronto, agents need buyers and much as buyers need agents. Take your time and shop around for the agent that best suits your needs using our tips and tricks laid out here, and you’ll have no problem finding the home of your dreams in the GTA.