Are you searching for a new house? Are you unhappy with the real estate agent that you’ve used in the past? Are you moving to a new city and looking for another home?  We have all the tips you will need to help you find and select the real estate agent that is right for you and your needs.

Here are a few general considerations to get you started

Start by finding out which agents have had success in your neighborhood – Successful agents have lots of houses listed.

  • Ask friends, colleagues, and neighbors for referrals– people you know will tell you if they liked their real estate agent or not.
  • Before setting up meetings with prospective agents, know what you are looking for in an agent.
  • Most importantly your real estate agent works for you. You should “interview” two or three prospective agents before selecting one.
  • Here are a few potential interview questions:

  • Are your licenses up to date? – ask for a copy to keep in your records
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • May I see your resume?
  • Do you practice full or part time? – you want a full time agent who can assure you their full attention
  • What formal training have you had? – also ask how they have kept their skills current
  • Ask for recent references
  • How familiar are you with the neighborhood? – ask for recent listings and recent sales
  • Will you provide me with recent original list prices compared to actual sale prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood? – selling price is useful, but knowing what they listed for and how much the sellers dropped in price is a great gauge of the real estate market in your area.
  • How do you communicate with your clients? – what is their preferred method (e-mail, phone, face to face), how often (daily, weekly)
  • What is your expectation of me as a client? – this is also an important part of the relationship
  • Why should I select you as the agent I wish to work with?

If you are selling your home, also ask the following questions:

  • How do you plan to market my house? – you want to find out who the agent thinks the right target audience is for your house, how they plan on reaching that market, and if they will create a brochure, design ads, etc…
  • How long is your term for? – some agents insist on exclusive contracts for specified terms such as 90 days.  You will need to decide if you are comfortable with this approach.
  • What is your commission and are you willing to take a lower commission? – If you’re selling a $150,000 home, every percent point less that you can negotiate down on their commission saves you $1500.

If you are purchasing a home, also ask:

  1. How often will you take me out on home visits?
  2. How well do you know the neighbourhoods?
  3. Do you have any preferred or exclusive relationships with other agents?

Final Tips and Suggestions

  • Interview at least two agents
  • Hire an agent that works in the neighborhood you are considering or currently live in
  • If you are selling, ensure that the agent specializes in your type of home, i.e. condo, waterfront property, land
  • If you are purchasing a home, you are not in a commitment with any agent.  You can always work on your own.
  • Don’t try to find the cheapest deal – you get what you pay for
  • Tell the agent what you expect from him or her right away
  • Real estate agents get paid by commission when they sell the house – there’s no need whatsoever to pay in advance or any other time for a job not done
  • Gauge the agent’s honesty – Is s/he willing to tell you the value of your home compared to others in the neighborhood, or is s/he just trying to “buy” the listing?
  • Consider the size of the firm the agent is affiliated with – What kind of networking can you expect? Is it a one-man show or many colleagues to draw upon?

TIP: Use our Finder an Agent tool to help you locate real estate agents in your area.