Finding the right agent

Finding the right agent

When you're buying your first place, working with a great real estate agent gives you a real advantage. You want someone who knows the market, has real insights into neighbourhoods and specific buildings, is familiar with the complexities of buying a condo, and really listens to what you want...but isn't shy with reality checks.

So what does an agent do for a buyer, exactly?

A great agent will help you understand everything about buying a condo. They'll give you the scoop on the market, neighbourhoods and specific buildings, with insights you just wouldn't get by looking online. They'll tell you if a condo is too good to be true (e.g. the price is set artificially low to start a bidding war), which under-the-radar neighbourhoods are next on the "hot list," and when a pre-construction condo might be a good option. They'll tell you which developers have the best reps, introduce you to a good lawyer, mortgage broker, moving company, etc., and offer up options you wouldn't have thought of yourself.

They also negotiate with the selling/listing agent to get you the best deal, make sure every bit of paperwork is complete and legal, and that you've completely understood what you're signing. And remember, as a buyer, you don't pay anything. Agents get paid by the seller (the selling agent and the listing agent split the fee).

So how do you find an amazing agent?

Ask lots of questions. Test their knowledge by asking what’s been happening in the area in the last month or two: things like listing/sold ratios, average days on the market, number of offers, number of multiple-offer scenarios, etc. Find out what areas they specialize in, and get details about their recent transactions. And it's more important to ask how many deals they've done in the last year than how long they've been in the business. Most agents in the GTA do fewer than five deals a year, so years matter a lot less than how many condos they've bought/sold in the last 12 months.

Find someone you like. Make sure your agent is someone you're comfortable with and that you can trust - you'll be spending a lot of time together and making some pretty big decisions.

Make sure they know their neighbourhoods. You want someone who knows what sales have been like historically, what changes (new condos/infrastructure) might impact value, where the good restaurants are, etc. Condo Pros are known for this deep level of knowledge - they're hyper-knowledgeable area specialists that REALLY know local markets, and can accurately analyze the true value of any unit in the area. An agent who's been around for 20 years but hasn't done a transaction downtown in 12 months isn't what you want - the market changes so fast that current experience is way more important than anything they've done in the past.

Ask how well they know specific buildings. They should know them inside and out - well beyond recent sales stats - with insights into the developer, management company, demographics (renters vs. owners, families vs. singles, 20-somethings vs. downsizers, etc.), amenities, the state of the reserve fund and the condo board, etc.

Pick a full-time agent. Someone who dabbles in real estate isn't going to have the same level of expertise or dedication. You want a pro who's responsive and available when you are, and is fully committed to helping you find a home you'll love at a budget that you can live with.

See if they're a good communicator. A good agent listens to what you want and structures their strategy based on your needs. If you want to see condos in Yorkville, they should show you condos in Yorkville - or tell you why that's not a realistic option for you. And part of being a good communicator is being a strong negotiator: when they're negotiating on your behalf, you want them to be clear and persuasive.

Pick someone who has a consultative approach. Pushy agents are just as bad as ones who are complete pushovers. The first won't listen to what you want, the second won't tell you if you're being unrealistic, and both types will leave you unhappy. A good agent will listen to your needs, but also provide value by asking tough questions and offering alternatives that might work better for your needs/budget. A great agent is someone who's clearly on your side, and has your best interests at heart. Call a Condo Pro. It's really all you need to do to land a smart, insightful amazing realtor that ticks all the boxes. Get in touch today.

Call a Condo Pro. It's really all you need to do to land a smart, insightful amazing realtor that ticks all the boxes. Get in touch today.

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