With savvy buyers and sellers searching for agents with experience and neighbourhood expertise, how do you find the best?
The main reason home buyers and sellers choose an agent is because of their expertise in a neighbourhood or building, rather than a referral from family or friends, according to recent REW.ca survey (see infographic below). But how do you find an expert in your area?
Speaking to REW.ca editor Joannah Connolly on a recent edition of the Real Estate Therapist show on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM, local REALTOR® Matt Kerr says that expertise in a local area or specific building is a much better reason to pick an agent, and offers his advice on how to interview agents to find the right one for you.
“One of the biggest problems we see when people use a family friend who has their licence and don’t know anything about the area they are selling in, it has trouble written all over it,” says Kerr. “When you’re looking for recommendations, ask for a referral for an agent in that area.
Kerr says that both buyers and sellers should always interview several prospective agents, and has a series of questions that they should ask.
“Speak to them in person and see what kind of rapport you have. If you’re choosing a buyer’s agent, you can just go for a coffee and a chat; a seller’s agent should be giving you a full listing presentation.”
There are the questions he said buyers and sellers should ask of their prospective agents:
What kind of education and experience do you have? How long have you been in the business? “If they’re new, that can be a great thing if they’re super-keen – but you want to check that they know everything about where you want to buy and the kind of property you want to buy.”
Where are your areas of expertise, geographically and in terms of property types? “This is certainly a big one to find out.”
Are you a full time REALTOR® or do you have a second job? You need somebody who is committed to the job and not distracted by other obligations.
What kind of referrals do you get from your database and from friends/family? “How many people are in their database and how many are referrals, what percentage that is, a good agent should know that.”
How many clients do you have right now, both buyers and sellers? “If you are interviewing a buyer’s agent, but they have three listings on the go, they’re probably not going to be available to you during key open house times, as they’ll be running their own open houses.”
How many deals do you do a year? When asked how many deals or clients is a good measure of a successful agent, Kerr replies, “A good agent would have between five and 10 clients on their roster at a given time. You don’t want a client who is boasting of dozens of buyers on their list – they won’t have time for you. And the average agent in the Lower Mainland is only selling four places a year. But if you’ve got a good agent who is doing 35 deals a year, you know they are getting their clients into properties.
What are your average days on market, and average listing-to-selling price? How many of your listings do you sell? “For sellers, you have to get into these questions to find out.”
Are you part of a team or working alone? Kerr says, “The great thing about someone being part of a team is that you will often get someone who is dedicated to being a buyer’s agent and someone specific to being a listing agent, and they’re only focusing on those things. That’s great because it means your agent won’t be taken away by conflicting obligations.”
How will you communicate with me and how responsive will you be? How responsive are you to other agents inquiring about my listing? “That’s a really big one – my buyer’s agents often have trouble getting hold of listing agents when they’re trying to find out for their clients about listings. And that’s rampant out there. You should always be able to get hold of your agent, and other agents should be able to as well.”
What makes you different than anyone else? “This is a big question, especially for sellers, to find out how the marketing of their home will stand out.”
Do you come with trusted partners in terms of mortgage brokers, lawyers, home inspectors? “You’ll need to get all these people in place.”
Kerr adds, “Sellers should remember that listing presentations are no-obligation, you can ask for them without having to hire that agent.”