According to the latest Canadian Real Estate Association membership report, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board has 71,800 members. So how do find the one that’s right for you?
“Remember, it’s not all about who is going to give you the greatest discount,” says Katherine Minovski, a broker at Royal LePage based in Unionville, Ont.
“It’s about the most effective way possible to negotiate a smooth and favourable transactional closing.”
According to Cailey Heaps, a broker with Heaps Estrin/Royal LePage in Toronto, the first thing to do is research who dominates the neighbourhood because they’ll probably have the best advice on pricing strategy and have a much more granular sense of who the audience is and who’s in the market at that moment. Look at stats to understand market share – you want someone who has transactional volume.
“I think that people assume that all agents are created equal, which is definitely not the case,” she says. “If they’re only doing one deal per month, they are not going to understand how the market has shifted in that month.”
Take a look at their marketing and their social media, especially their following numbers and what kind of content they put out. Most agents are on social media, but many don’t use it the right way. Establishing authenticity through social media posts is good, especially for millennial or Gen Z buyers and sellers, but often realtors push the envelope too far in a hypercompetitive environment, especially on platform such as TikTok, at the expense of professionalism. Buying and selling real estate is a serious game. For most people it’s the most significant financial transaction they will ever make.
“I think fit matters,” Heaps says. “You want someone who matches your communication style. I really believe you need someone who’s proactive. I think we’re also seeing a big shift in the market from a single agent model to more of a team approach. And I think that’s because one person can’t possibly be an expert in everything.
“So you really want to have a team who has expertise across every step of the selling process and on the buying side. You want someone who has access to the off-market listings. There’s a huge amount of volume in Toronto that is done between agents without going to market.”
I think that people assume that all agents are created equal, which is definitely not the case.— Cailey Heaps, Broker, Heaps Estrin/Royal LePage
Heaps says she has 20 agents on their team, and each of them has different knowledge in different areas. If you are looking to take a quiet approach to a sale or purchase, off of MLS, Heaps says their brokerage has a client base of more than 15,000 and social media following greater than 10,000. A realtor needs to have the experience and personal relationships to do that. Good realtors see themselves more as strategic advisors.
Also, hire an agent that other agents like. If you hire an agent who is adversarial and tough to do deals with, that will impede your ability to get business done. Go with an agent who is well-liked in the agent community and has a good reputation for being ethical and straightforward.
“The other thing that’s critically important is having a very strong digital strategy with spend behind it,” Heaps says.
“I think it’s very difficult for most agents to spend what you need to spend to get attention online. We have economies of scale, as we have a high transactional volume. So we have the resources to engage with third-party digital marketing specialists, but an individual agent isn’t going to spend 20 grand a month doing that.”
How long have you been in real estate? How many transactions have you done in my neighbourhood, and in Toronto? When was the last transaction you did? How did that sale go? How do you market your properties? How do you find listings that aren’t listed on MLS? These are the questions to ask.
And make sure your realtor gives you a clear indication of their plan to sell your home, to identify and target potential buyers, Minovski adds. Make sure your agent knows all your requests, particularly those involving timing for showings, up front so they can work out a schedule that meets your needs.
On the buying side, you’ll need a competent and confident realtor to step up and do the negotiations with the seller and their agent, arrange a home inspection, create all the necessary purchase agreements, documentation, forms and applications. They’ll manage the deposit, in addition to monitoring your transaction through to closing or completion. So ask what their track record is on successfully closing a transaction and what types of things they have done for their buyers to help successfully land a great deal in a competitive environment.
“The key is open communication, explaining everything through verbal and then again written confirmation, and dialogue to clarify that everyone understands what is going on and when,” she says.
“If you find someone who can do all that and make you feel comfortable with the process and they have a great track record, the rest is easy.”
CANADIAN REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION:
FIVE QUESTIONS TO ASK A REALTOR
- What are your qualifications?
- How will you market my home?
- Can I have your references?
- What do you know about my neighbourhood and neighbourhoods I’m interested in?
- What’s it going to cost?
KATHERINE MINOVSKI, Royal LePage Broker:
PRIORITY LIST WHEN CHOOSING A REALTOR
SELLING? Find someone who can do this:
- Manage the entire process: performing a professional market overview, presenting comparable properties sold, reviewing the selling history of your home as well as its current condition, proposing a selling price that matches the approved strategy and estimating net proceeds from the sale of your home so you know what’s left over post-closing
- Save you time and energy
- Know how to establish the market value of your property
- Know how to market your home
- Minimize risks related to the transaction
BUYING? When comparing properties, find someone who can help you assess these:
- Property value, taxes, utilities
- Public transportation
- Future marketability
- Outside factors (other development plans, zoning and restrictions)
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.