There are nearly 40,000 Realtors in Toronto (some estimate closer to 50,000). That’s a lot of choice for homeowners looking to list Toronto condos for sale. But as with any service industry, not all Realtors are created equal.
As a seller, it’s critical that you interview several Realtors before selecting the best match for you. Around 60% of the time, sellers hire a family friend or the only agent they know (often the agent who they purchased with originally). While it’s nice to give people you know the opportunity to pitch for your business, it’s always good practice to make the process competitive.
If you open yourself up to other options, you may find a Realtor who better serves your needs and whom you really click with. Likewise, even if you go with that family friend Realtor, knowing it’s a competitive process will ensure that they don’t get sloppy and bring their A-game to the table for you.
Here are the questions you should ask when hiring a professional Realtor to ensure the process of selling your Toronto condo is both fruitful and stress-free.
How to Hire a Toronto Realtor
Expertise, Knowledge & Experience
What’s your related experience?
It’s always best to kick-off the interview with the basics. How long have you worked as a Realtor? What are your professional qualifications? Do you and/or your company specialize in selling Toronto condos or do you buy and sell all types of properties? Is your focus on the condo market and which specific neighbourhoods in Toronto do you specialize in?
How do you price your Toronto condos for sale?
Essentially, you’re looking for agents who have a strong knowledge of the value trends in your building and neighbourhood (see below), recent area comps and the condition and features of your specific unit. Be wary of agents who ask you what you want to get for the unit and then tell you what you want to hear.
Yes, there are emotional factors involved in what someone is willing to pay for a condo but the majority of pricing is based on hard market data that any skilled agent should be prepared to draw from during the interview.
What is your experience in buying/selling within this building? What are the building values and trends? Can you also tell me about the neighbourhood’s real estate trends?
The Value Proposition of condos.ca is our data and trends analysis that we provide free of charge to everyone who creates a no-obligation user account on our website. Watch our introductory video to learn more about us and how you can use our free online tools.
Even if you go with another team, it’s important to educate yourself on the historic and recent trends for your building and make sure that the agent you hire is equally as knowledgeable in your specific neighbourhood and property type. I’ve talked with Condos.ca Pros who have turned down business from friends and family who wanted them to sell their suburban house or country cottage because they were not the best person for that particular job. They encouraged them to find a local Realtor and where appropriate, helped them to do so.
Condos.ca Realtors specialize in Toronto condos with building and neighbourhood-specific experts. Condos are our niche.
Can you provide me with recent references?
You wouldn’t hire an employee without checking references so don’t hire a Realtor without doing the same unless they are coming to you via word-of-mouth from trusted friends or family.
Marketing & Communications
Every Realtor has their unique marketing strategies and you need to decide what feels right for you. But don’t get dazzled by flash and make sure that your Realtor is leaving their ego at the door. The truth is that in Toronto, it’s very rare that you need a marketing platform beyond MLS and the Realtor’s own website to sell a condo providing it shows well and is priced appropriately.
Open houses, newspaper and online ads and postcards / flyers mailed around town are almost always about the Realtor drumming up new business leads. They are doing it to sell themselves, not your property. It’s much better for you that those marketing dollars go towards great photography, video and professional copywriting for your MLS listing and not materials designed to raise the Realtors’ brand.
In particular, ask for details on staging – if they think your unit needs it, who they use and what the costs are, if any – and photography (see below).
Can I see samples of your past listings including photography galleries?
We can’t stress enough the importance of good photography in selling your condo. We’re amazed at how many agents think a blurry shot on their iPhone will suffice.
Think twice if the agent doesn’t use a professional photographer and ensure that if they do, those costs are included in their commission fee – you shouldn’t pay extra for professional photography. You can read more here about why photography matters when selling Toronto condos.
How and when do you communicate with your clients?
Communication is the most important aspect of a successful Realtor-client relationship. Make sure that your Realtor has a communications plan rather than just saying they’ll be in touch as needed. For example, they should call buyers’ agents every few days to gather feedback on the home so that they can adjust sales strategies as needed and communicate that back to you. Also, ensure that you know how accessible they are. Can you call them evenings and weekends as needed?
Do you work independently or as part of a team? Will you be my primary contact and the individual negotiating the sale / purchase?
It’s great to have a team of marketing, administrative and sales professionals behind your Realtor but bigger doesn’t always mean better service. You want to know that who you’ve hired is who is going to be dedicated to your account. Make sure that the agent you interview is going to be the primary agent, the one communicating with you and the buyers’ agent(s) during back-and-forth negotiations.
We can be precious about our homes. Your agent shouldn’t be. You need someone who can see both the real and perceived, emotional benefits of your suite but also the negative points. That’s the first step in developing a strategy that will best position your home on the market.
Every condo has at least one drawback. No home is perfect. Find an agent that’s not afraid to tell it like it is and then offer solutions on how to combat the negatives and accentuate the positives.
How do you handle situations where a client’s condo doesn’t move?
It happens. Some condos take a long time to sell. We’ve all been so bombarded by media coverage of bidding wars and one or two day sales that when it doesn’t happen for you, it’s a hard pill to swallow. You want an agent who is optimistic but who doesn’t wait for something to go wrong to come up with a Plan B. A big part of this should be reacting to the feedback from buyers that they’re gathering along the way.
Is now the right time for me to sell?
An honest Realtor will tell you if you’re better off waiting a few months to list. The Toronto real estate market is perpetually hot but there are cases when it’s better to hold off. For example, if there are several other current listings in your building that show better than your own and you’re unwilling to price yours in accordance with the competition (and you need to give it more time to appreciate).
Lead image © Olivier Le Moal from Shutterstock.