So you have decided to enter the real estate game. Congratulations! Now is a great time to hit the market, what with some of the lowest mortgage rates in years and plenty of houses available to choose from. While checking out the Homes section in the paper is a good start and peeking into an open house or two gets your feet wet, there is another way to make your house hunting a successful experience. One of the easiest ways to go about buying a house is by using a real estate agent to help you manoeuvre the ins and outs of your real estate experience. If you have never worked with an agent before, it might seem a daunting experience to pick just the right one though. Don’t fret though. Here are a few helpful hints to help with choosing just the right agent for you.

What to Look For in a Real Estate Agent

    • Compatibility: First off, do you like the person? If you are to have a relationship with this person, do you enjoy spending time with them, respect their opinion or trust in their knowledge? If the answer is no, then perhaps you need to find an agent that meets more of your criterions before signing any paperwork.
    • Preparedness: Are they available to you when you are? Do they show up on time? Do they have listings to show you? Do they have suggestions for other professionals that may be necessary in the business transaction (ex. home inspectors, mortgage brokers, lawyers)? These are good questions to ask before you commit to anyone.
    • Professionalism: Are they presentable? Do they know what paperwork needs to be filled out? Can they fulfill their responsibilities in a timely manner?  Any negative answers here need to be seriously taken into consideration when dealing with such a large financial transaction.
    • References: We all want to believe a person’s word, but it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion as well. Does your real estate agent have references that can vouch for  them? How quickly can they come up with them and how long ago did they work with them? Sometimes a third party’s opinions can make all the difference in choosing that right agent for you.
    • Knowledge of local area: While not always a deal breaker, this information can be critical in making decisions for a potentially life-altering decision such as relocating yourself and your family. You need to know your potential new home’s proximity to schools, community centres, shopping, public transit and more in order to fit into your new neighbourhood emotionally and socially.
    • Knowledge of community: Is the neighbourhood riddled with crime? Does it feature festivals, gatherings or encourage other social engagement? Again, a real estate agent may not know the specifics ahead of time, but with a little research on their part and that information at the ready, you can make this emotional decision a little quicker and easier.
    • Current: Age does not a real estate agent make, but neither does lack of knowledge of current affairs. Does you real estate agent know current price ranges and trends? Have they embraced social media yet? Do they have a blog or website? Can you find them on Facebook? How about Twitter or LinkedIn? If you are there, don’t you want to connect with them there too?
    • Affiliations: Another marker that you have the right agent is whether they are in good standing with other agents, brokerages and the real estate board. Do they have any certifications? If you are selling your home, will they have any pull to bring in potential clients and/or other agents with the right buyer for your home?

That is a start to hopefully help you in finding the perfect agent for you and your family. Do you have any other suggestions or stories of any agents you have worked with and what made or broke the relationship? As always, drop me a line with your comments and let me know what worked for you!