Whether you’re buying your first or fifth home, or selling your current home, it's a stressful time. Regardless of your stress coping mechanisms, the best way to feel comfortable with the process is to ask your realtor a few important questions before signing on the dotted line.
Before we get started:
There are a couple of different ways real estate professionals are classified in Canada.
Real estate agent: May also be called real estate licensees, real estate professionals, REALTORS®, real estate associates, or real estate brokers. These are the people who help you buy, sell or lease property. They can hold a licence in some or all of the following sectors; residential, commercial, rural, or property management.
REALTOR®: This is a real estate professional who is a member of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Members of the CREA can include those who help people buy and sell property, property management, land development, mortgage banking, urban planning, and real estate appraisal.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll be using ‘realtor’ to indicate the person who is licensed to buy, sell or lease properties.
The Most Important Question To Ask Yourself About Your Realtor
Do you trust them?
Buying or selling, homes are an investment. If you’re working with someone you don’t trust, the process can be costly, time-consuming, and energy-draining.
Plain and simple, there are a lot of realtors. The good news for you is that you get a choice of who you hire.
You do not have to work with the first person you choose.
If you do not connect with your realtor, you may not be obligated to work with them. The home purchase or selling process can take months so you want to work with someone you like and connect with.
However, this is all contingent on your agreement upfront. If you’ve signed a listing agreement to sell your home, chances are the realtor you’ve chosen will have an exclusive time frame to market your house, so know your options upfront and ensure you understand what you’re signing.
Questions For Your Realtor If You're Buying A Home
Here are a few of our favourite questions to ask your real estate professional.
What is your experience level?
Most people will go to a trusted source, like a friend or family member, for a referral. Maybe that friend or family member is a realtor themselves. Regardless of how you connect with them, it is still a good idea to ask what their experience level is and what others' experiences have been.
Ask your realtor about how long they have been in the industry and the realty team they are connected with. Even if they are just entering the real estate world, their company can still offer support with your purchase or sale.
Are there future changes coming to the neighbourhood?
Perhaps the neighbourhood you're looking at will also be home to a new transit line or a mega mall. Whatever the case, you don’t want to move somewhere that won’t provide a return on your investment in the future.
Now, we know it's impossible to predict the future, but usually, these projects take years to plan and build. Your realtor will ideally know what’s planned for the neighbourhood.
Questions For Your Realtor If You’re Selling Your Home
When you're selling your home, the stakes go up with your realtor. Now there's a commission involved off your bottom line, potential profit on your home, and coordinating the purchase of your next home.
What is your commission, with tax?
Don’t be afraid to ask your realtor what their fees are and what you get for that cost. Does it include having your home professionally staged or for photography for the website?
Asking this question upfront will help you figure out your selling price as well as you can include the realtor's commission.
What are you going to do to sell my house?
Marketing isn’t just for cars or ketchup! Ask what marketing strategies your realtor will use to get your home sold. Do they have a website with property listings that your home will be added to? Do they use social media to promote homes for sale? What about a newsletter for potential buyers? Ask to see what marketing they have done for homes in the past to get an idea of what to expect.
AND make sure to ask, are any of these services going to cost more?
How long do your homes typically stay on the market?
Sometimes you have a lot of time to sell your home. Other times, you need to sell it quickly. Ask how long their homes typically stay on the market, and what the average is for your neighbourhood.
If your realtor often sells a home quicker than the average, it doesn't always mean a positive thing. It may mean they are listing at lower prices, which means you won’t get the upper value for your home. This isn’t always the case, but still good to ask!
Can you recommend a home inspector/handyman or contractor/real estate lawyer?
Your realtor likely has a long list of contacts for other services buyers and sellers need, like inspectors, contractors, and lawyers.
If you trust your realtor, then usually using their connections is a great option. However, if you're looking for a second opinion, our mortgage brokers also have a great list you can reference.
So, let us know. Did you ask your realtor any of these questions?