When consumers go out to buy a property, many often begin the process by looking at real estate ads and calling whatever REALTOR® is advertising a property for sale of interest (i.e. representing the Seller) without fully considering what exactly a Buyer REALTOR® will do to help them buy the right property.
In my professional opinion, a 'casual approach' in selecting a REALTOR® should be avoided because a Buyer may not be working with the right REALTOR® to receive the best Buyer Agency service on their most important life decision. Instead, a Buyer’s first step (after getting pre-qualified for financing with a licensed mortgage broker) should be to carefully do their homework: research, locate, and then engage the Buyer Agency Services of the best qualified Buyer REALTOR® available.
Firstly, how does a Buyer go about locating the best Buyer REALTOR® when there are so many choices in today's market? My answer: analyze a total of ten important factors and then issue a score for what each REALTOR® has to offer (i.e. their potential) from 1 (worst) to 10 (best) to obtain the Buyer REALTOR® with the best overall score over the ten categories to hire on your upcoming purchase:
(1). Education: In addition to standard real estate education, has the REALTOR® obtained post-secondary education (i.e. Bachelor, Master, etc.) for which is relevant to real estate (i.e. construction, engineering, finance, business, law, etc.)? Has the REALTOR® gone above and beyond what is required for a standard REALTOR® by taking extra courses relating to commercial real estate, acreages, Buyer Agency, law, etc.? Real estate is a highly complicated profession (requiring a strong practical-based education to master) as there are many intricacies, dynamics, and on-going industry changes related to analyzing properties; the purchase contract; the market; advertising; negotiation; the Real Estate Act; etc. Also, does the REALTOR® take pride in educating their clients via comments / advice during showings, Buyer and Seller presentations, etc. to ensure their clients are at a high standard when buying and selling?
(2). Certifications, Memberships, and Licensing: Is the REALTOR® a member of the local real estate board (e.g. REALTOR’S® Association of Edmonton) as well as provincial and national real estate associations (e.g. Alberta Real Estate Association and Canadian Real Estate Association)? Is the REALTOR® (and their brokerage) licensed with the provincial jurisdiction (e.g. Real Estate Council of Alberta)? Is the REALTOR® an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) and a member of the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC)? Does the REALTOR® have additional certifications that can potentially add value for Buyers? Does the REALTOR® have a clean record without any disciplinary actions and / or any past criminal records?
(3). Experience: Has the REALTOR® sold more than a dozen properties? Has the REALTOR® sold more than 250 to 400+ properties including a large number of pending deals that fell apart due to financing or inspection issues (i.e. valuable learning experiences)? The more properties a REALTOR® sells or at least gets pending, the more past experiences the REALTOR® is able to rely upon when giving clients the best possible advice. Has the REALTOR® sold in many areas outside of their neighbourhood to give them depth and verstility of experience? [To further explain, a case in point: how successful would a professional sports franchise be (e.g. in the NHL) at satisfying their clients (fans) if they were only able to win some games at home and were not good enough to win any games on the road? This is why it is imperative to search out and select a REALTOR® who has proven results selling EVERYWHERE across the Greater Edmonton Area, not just only in their home neighbourhood.] Has the REALTOR® sold many different types of properties in addition to condos and houses? The more versatile a REALTOR® is with regards to areas sold and types of properties sold the more diverse situations the REALTOR® has encountered and therefore the better overall advice they are likely able to provide for Buyers and Sellers. Also: does the REALTOR® demonstrate a high standard of knowledge and experience with computers? Emails, updating websites, MLX and website searches for listings, feature sheet packages, laptop presentations, texting, and past sale / comparative market analysis summaries must all be second nature.
(4). Characteristics: Does the REALTOR® have personal characteristics that would suggest they will be a strong representative? Some suggested characteristics to look for include the following:
- Accurate, Ambitious, Analytical, Client-focused, Conscientious, Courteous, Detail-oriented, Diligent, Efficient, Enthusiastic
- Hard-working, Honest, Independent, Intelligent, Knowledgeable, Optimistic, Organized, Persistent, Precise, Proactive
- Problem-solver, Punctual, Reliable, Robust, Strategic, Talented, Thorough, Tidy, Trustworthy, Visionary
(5). Physical Presentation and Image: Does the REALTOR® dress professionally? Does the REALTOR® have good hygiene? Does the REALTOR® have a clean and tidy vehicle? Is the REALTOR® friendly? Is the REALTOR® usually on time or early for every appointment (barring rare circumstances)? It is important to work with a quality REALTOR® you feel comfortable around and enjoy being with. Does the REALTOR® (man or woman) have a strong physical stature / physique and engaged in a regimented fitness or weightlifting program, etc.? While Buyers want to hire a REALTOR® who will not run out of energy by being out of shape, the main reason for this is because there can be dangerous situations encountered with a Seller; unruly tenant; animal; physical hazard; etc. during a showing and if a Buyer is attacked by a third party or if a dangerous situation is encountered it helps to have a REALTOR® there who will provide the Buyer the best chance of: (a). Avoiding any negative confrontations or circumstances; and (b). Negotiating a potentially dangerous or risky situation with minimized negative impact. This is one of many key reasons why Buyers will often decide to avoid for sale by owners (in particular viewing properties alone without a REALTOR® escort) – these situations can potentially be very dangerous.
(6). Past Client Testimonials / Referrals: Is the REALTOR® able to provide you a long list (or at least a short list) of statements made by past clients who have completed at least one deal using their services? The more past client testimonials a REALTOR® can provide (with positive recommendations), the more confident a consumer can be that the REALTOR® will provide them a similar quality level of service on their upcoming transaction.
(7). Availability: Believe it or not, there are many REALTORS® out there who do not work all days of the week or all times of the day. As a consumer, it is important to find out exactly what restrictions a REALTOR® has in place before engaging their services to make sure that when you are ready to list a home or view a home or to write an offer, your REALTOR® will also be available to act in your best interests. Not being able to view a home on a Sunday or weeknight could mean losing out on the home to another Buyer. Does the REALTOR® return client and REALTOR® pager calls / emails as quickly as possible? Being late to return a page or email could make the difference in buying a great property for the best price (or at all). Does the REALTOR® have a qualified substitute to take over their business if they are away on vacation? If a REALTOR® takes more than one or two vacations a year this can be contrary to their client’s interests. Does the REALTOR® have too many family commitments? Note that REALTORS® who have children and / or a large extended family and / or a 'party lifestyle' may often be unavailable by looking out for their children’s and family's activities ahead of their client’s.
(8). Negotiating Ability and Overall Value: Does the REALTOR® explain and demonstrate value by identifying properties matching your criteria; explaining the various differences between properties during viewings; assisting with comparing and ranking properties; identifying special considerations on an offer to purchase; identifying special negotiation tactics on the offer; etc. to help you buy a property at the best possible purchase price? Does the REALTOR® explain what services will be provided and how he / she will be paid; when; and by whom? [Note: for most cooperating listings the Buyer Agency commission is negotiated to be 100% paid by the Seller; is included in the negotiated sale price; and is paid by the Seller upon the property turnover].
(9). Paperwork: The Agency Guide; FINTRAC; and Buyer Agency Services Agreement: As required, most particularly either before or while writing up an initial offer to purchase, does the REALTOR® explain how Buyer Agency works and goes through the Agency Guide with you? Does the REALTOR® obtain identification information including viewing driver's license or other government photo ID as required by law? Does the REALTOR® explain Buyer Agency Services (with a written disclosure document - Buyer Services Agreement) and answer any related questions?
(10). Follow-up: Does the REALTOR® continue to follow-up after a deal (e.g. once a year, etc.) via holiday cards, phone calls, or emails in the event a Buyer has market questions, future plans, etc.? It is important to have a relationship with a REALTOR® who you can feel comfortable to call or email anytime for information, update on market trends, etc.
In summary, before viewing any properties and making an offer to purchase, in my opinion Buyers should consider the merits of going through the above process first to select their best Buyer REALTOR®. While referrals from family and friends can on occasion be helpful, Buyers (in the end) are encouraged to do their research and make their own informed decisions. To see how you might rate me as a Buyer's REALTOR®: < Open Link to View 'About Kelly Grant' >
[Article written and ©2011, ©2017 by Kelly Grant, M.Eng., ABR, NCSO, P.Eng. - REALTOR® at Maxwell Devonshire Realty in Edmonton, AB]
Disclaimer: for those readers not currently represented by another licensed REALTOR®, to obtain more information on this topic and / or if you are serious about selling or buying in the Greater Edmonton Area, call Kelly at 780-414-6100 (pager) or send Kelly an email to SOLD@KellyGrant.ca to schedule a confidential appointment.