When consumers go out to buy a property, many often begin the process by (a). using whatever REALTOR® is recommended by a friend or family member without doing advance research and / or (b). 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. Note that a 'casual approach' in selecting a REALTOR® should be avoided because a Buyer may easily 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.
Even though recommendations from family and friends can be considered as an option, remember this: there are hundreds of licensed REALTORS® available, and what is the likelihood that your friend or family member knows the best Buyer REALTOR® available (or even one of the best, for that matter) to serve your needs? The answer: not very likely, and this is why Buyers must take responsibility to do the research themselves and not rely too heavily on friends and family members' opinions, if at all. Plus, if you are able to research and find a better REALTOR® than they are using, next time when they need a REALTOR® you become the powerful one providing valuable knowledge by recommending to them a great REALTOR® as a result of your most recent positive experience.
Next, how does a Buyer locate the best Buyer REALTOR® when there are many choices in today's market? Below are Kelly Grant's top ten important factors to weigh when determining what each REALTOR® has to offer (i.e. their potential) in order to obtain the best Buyer REALTOR® 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, creating and posting helpful on-line articles, 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) and affiliated with the National Association of REALTORS®? Does the REALTOR® have additional certifications that can add value for Buyers? Does the REALTOR® have a clean record without 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 experience the REALTOR® is able to draw upon when giving future 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 games at home but were not skilled enough to win any games on the road? The answer: they would miss the playoffs every year and have many upset fans! This is an illustration as to why it is imperative to search out and select a REALTOR® who has proven results selling EVERYWHERE 'on the road' 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, current updated websites, MLX and website searches for listings, feature sheet packages, laptop presentations, texting, cinematic virtual tour videos, and past sale / comparative market analysis summaries is a huge workload and to serve clients effectively, each of these important tasks must all be second nature and completed at lightning speed.
(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 negative confrontations or circumstances; and (b). Negotiating a potentially dangerous or risky situation with minimized negative impact. Safety is one of many key reasons why Buyers will often decide to avoid / omit for sale by owners (including viewing alone without a REALTOR®) as 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 dozens of 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: Surprisingly, there are actually many REALTORS® out there who do not work for their clients 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 (including dealing on contract negotiations) 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 from the office? If a REALTOR® takes too many vacations a year this can potentially 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 putting their children’s and family's priorities and activities ahead of their clients.
(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 upon the property turnover via the listing brokerage; and is included in the negotiated sale price.]
(9). Paperwork: Either before initial viewing and / or before writing up an offer to purchase (i.e. timing at the Buyers' preference), does the REALTOR® explain how Buyer Agency works including the Agency Guide? Does the REALTOR® obtain identification information including viewing driver's license or other government photo ID as required by law (i.e. FINTRAC)? Does the REALTOR® explain Buyer Agency Services (with a written disclosure document - either non-exclusive or exclusive 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, Buyers should first go through the above process to select their best Buyer REALTOR®. While referrals from family and friends can be helpful, Buyers (in the end) are encouraged to do their own independent research and make their own informed decisions. To see how you might rate Kelly Grant as a Buyer's REALTOR® on the above categories: < Open Link to View 'About Kelly Grant' >
[Article written and ©2011, ©2017, ©2020 by Kelly Grant, M.Eng., ABR, NCSO, P.Eng. - REALTOR® at MaxWell POLARIS 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 will be 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.