Whether you are a first-time buyer, long-time homeowner whose family continues to outgrow its current home, or simply relocating for one reason or another, one thing these scenarios all have in common is the need for a quality real estate agent.
“While many people have long-term relationships with their agent, either built on trust, ease of contact – or simply a friend or relative in the business – it’s always important to review your current needs and assess whether or not you might want to test the proverbial waters and seek out a new relationship,” says Darren Slavens, long-time Toronto-based real estate broker and co-owner of Slavens & Associates.
Slavens recommends five simple, but often over-looked elements when assessing and selecting a real estate agent:
1. Ensure the agent is full-time.
“While this may sound obvious, many agents practice real estate on a part-time basis,” says Slavens. “Many people think being a realtor is fairly straightforward, but the truth is there are many nuances and details that require 24-7 attention.”
2. Get a strong sense of their honesty.
“Ask some difficult questions upfront and gauge the agent’s answers as best you can,” says Slavens. “Most of us can sense when someone is using tried and true ‘cookie-cutter’ answers and not speaking from the heart. This applies to your agent relationship, as well.”
3. Confirm a successful track record.
“Ask about recent sales, unique and challenging situations, as well as the agent’s long-term achievements,” explains Slavens. “A track record shows more than success – it shows commitment and focus.”
4. Identify examples of their work ethic.
“Approach it as if you’re conducting a job interview, because essentially that’s exactly what you are doing,” says Slavens. “Ask for examples of their work ethic, how they managed their way through difficult situations, and what they think it takes to be a top agent.”
5. Ask for at least three customer references – and make those calls.
“It may sound old school, but it’s also a tried-and-true method to get a sense of the agent’s relationship with other clients,” says Slavens. “Ask references about the process, the agent’s availability, and their willingness to provide options and get creative.”
It comes down to a sense of comfort, trust and respect, concludes Slavens. “Relationships are critical in this business, especially when you consider this will most likely be the biggest investment of your life.”