Whether you're looking to buy or sell your home, a good real estate agent is essential – and can be hard to find. Here are the top 10 things to look for in a potential agent. Tell Me About Yourself
This open-ended question opens the floor to bragging rights. What you want to hear: how long the agent's been practicing, his best sale, how he refers to past clients, a sense of professionalism and the ability to be honest with you. Once the agent's done boasting, ask him to send you information about his business. You'll see how quickly he responds to your request and how professional the brochure is (which will give you an idea what your sell sheet will look like if you're selling your home). Selling Skills
How many homes has the agent listed and sold in the last six months? This question will tell you where the agent's strength lies – in helping clients buy or sell homes – and his rate of success. Home Sense
Does the agent excel in helping clients buy or sell homes? Do they know the starter-condo market or the 18th century, multi-million-dollar estate market? What type of home did he last buy or sell? Location, location, location
What area of the city is the agent most familiar with? You want an agent who knows the neighbourhood you're looking to buy or sell in. Organizations & Affiliations
There are more than a dozen organizations and qualifications a Canadian real estate agent can hold. Find out how many your agent belongs to (since they can be a great source of networking, they can also be an indicator of the number of people your agent knows. More acquaintances can translate into a bigger turnout at your open house). Tip:
Want to check up on an agent? Visit www.reic.ca (the Real Estate Institute of Canada) to do a name search of an agent’s qualifications and affiliations. References
Ask for three references. This will give you key information: how quickly the agent offers up three sources, how long ago these people were clients, what type of home they were buying/selling and what their experiences were like with the agent. Working Hard or Hardly Working?
Does the agent practice full-time or on the side of another job? Will he be available to show your home to potential buyers or show you homes when it’s convenient for you – or will you have to rearrange your schedule for him? Competition
Find out who the agent sees as his main competition. What sets him apart? You’ll learn not only other agents to contact for comparison, but how each agent responds to this question – positively or negatively and whether the other agents are selling/showing homes in the area you’re interested in. What’s the Plan?
Whether you’re buying or selling, your agent-to-be should have a plan (open house, public or private open house, appointments, number of viewings a day). Whether you want to look at a new home every time one is available, or save up six for a Saturday morning, your agent and you should be on the same planning page. If you’re not, tell him what you want or look for a different agent. Money Matters
How does the agent respond to your budget requirements or desired price for the home you’re selling? A good agent will understand your needs, offer his advice (he should know whether your expectations are realistic) and then support you (not telling you to say yes to the first offer if you’re not happy with it). Be wary of an agent who looks too eager to make a quick sale. A good agent will want to build a solid relationship with you, so that you call him when you want to buy or sell your next home.