How do I find the right real estate agent for me?

How do I find the right real estate agent for me?

Buying or selling a property is rarely a simple process. Things can (and do) go wrong. You can find your dream home on your first visit – or on your tenth. You might run into weird clauses and conditions. Or a property you think will sell in a snap will end up taking months to move. And these days, we all know something completely unexpected like COVID-19 can come from nowhere and throw a giant wrench into a lot of carefully laid plans.

That's why having the right realtor in your corner is so important. And “right” can mean different things to different people – that agent your friend says is amazing may not be right for you. After all, we all have different priorities and personalities. So how do you find someone who is the right fit? Over the years, I've learned there are a few key qualities an agent needs to have to provide an experience that’s smooth and as stress-free as possible.

1. Strong communication skills.

Think about the last time someone just couldn’t understand what you wanted – or couldn’t clearly explain something to you. Now imagine that person is helping you with one of the biggest transactions of your life. Poor communication can cause a lot of stress so ensuring you and your agent really understand each other is probably the most important part of your relationship. Even the simplest transactions can hit snags, and your agent needs to be able to clearly tell you what's going on, what the next steps need to be, and support you through emotional highs and lows.

So when you’re vetting agents, ask them how they plan to communicate with you throughout the process. Will they be easy to reach if you have a question? How long do they usually take to respond to emails and voicemails? (Anything longer than 12 hours is a red flag.) Do they use language you understand and are comfortable with?

Working with a good communicator also gives you a big advantage when it comes to negotiation: an agent who’s clear and persuasive is a lot more likely to get you the best value on your purchase or the best price on the property you’re selling

2. Not being a “yes” man or woman.

You want someone who tells it like it is – not just what they think you want to hear. That might mean letting you know your home isn’t worth what you think it is, just because it’s where your partner proposed or where your little one took her first steps. Or saying “when” if you’re getting carried away in a bidding war and going beyond your means. Or giving you a reality check if you’ll only consider buying in a neighbourhood you can’t afford. You're hiring them for their expertise, and that means hearing “no” or “let’s consider other options” once in a while. In other words, you need someone who can manage your expectations.

3. Grit and perseverance.

Deals hit speed bumps all the time. It happens – that's just the biz. A good agent isn’t afraid of getting back on that horse after something goes wrong or a sale falls through. When you're first talking to them, ask some pointed questions about how they deal with challenges, and get them to describe a tough situation they faced and how they got through it. (It's okay to treat that initial agent meeting like a job interview. After all, they’ll be working for you.)

4. The right energy.

Do they show genuine passion for helping you buy or sell, no matter how big or small the transaction? Ultimately, a real estate agent is a salesperson – they have to bring energy to each deal and the confidence to negotiate on your behalf.

5. Follow-up.

After you've initially met with an agent, hearing crickets is not a good sign. Someone who is genuinely interested in working with you will follow up with a friendly (and timely) email or call, checking to see if you have any questions. Hearing from them quickly is a great indicator of how engaged and responsive they'll be if you sign on the dotted line, and how interested they are in doing business with you. I follow up with my clients daily – or weekly, at a minimum.

6. Likeability.

You don't have to be their best friend, But working with someone you don't fully trust or aren't comfortable with is a recipe for disaster. That's why it's important to sit down and talk to them first. No matter how successful they are or how many awards they have under their belt, if it doesn't feel like a fit, it probably won’t be. While we’re in “business not as usual” mode during quarantine, a Zoom or Google Hangouts call is a great way to get to know each other.

Remember, a realtor is your partner in this process, offering reality checks when needed, never pushing you into anything that makes you uncomfortable, and working tirelessly on your behalf. Ask plenty of questions, meet with more than one candidate, and you'll probably have a much more positive experience.

About Sean Miller

Sean is one of the top realtors at / Sean has the drive and expertise to guide you through one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make. Whether you're a first-time buyer, a seasoned seller, are new to the Toronto market or are looking for a great investment, he makes the experience as stress-free as possible, quickly assessing your needs and offering a full range of options that fit with your lifestyle and budget. Navigating the GTA market is his specialty, and stellar customer service and deep market expertise are his calling cards. He is always ready to go the distance to help clients make the right choice, at the right time and the right price. Contact Sean today.

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