Almost everyone knows a real estate agent. A friend or family member or maybe a distant relative your mom is always talking about. But when it comes time for you to choose whom you will work with in real estate, how do you choose? First, you should know that there are over 100,000 real estate agents in Canada and over 23,000 registered through the Toronto Real Estate board alone. This is good news and bad news for the consumer. Lots of choice means you have a good chance of finding what you are looking for in an agent and some will even specialize in investment properties. You also run the risk of getting a “not so good’ agent too. Anyway, here is what we suggest when choosing an agent to work on your behalf. Personality They should have one and it should compliment yours. If they are too aggressive, you might feel pressured into buying before you are ready and regret your decision later. Some clients need more advice and some need less, the right agent for you will understand this and help you through the process. Experience Obviously experience counts, but what kind of experience do they have? Just because a person has been in real estate for 10 years it doesn’t mean they are good at market analysis, negotiations, or problem solving. When you are looking for an investment property, you should look for someone who has been buying/selling real estate similar to your market as they typically understand where to find the best properties. If you are looking at commercial property, find someone who buys/sells commercial property. Even better, find someone who owns some. There is no better experience in real estate than ownership – and for investment properties, a good agent should be able to tell you about tenant laws , key rental markets etc. This comes in handy whether you are going to manage it yourself or hire a property manager. The level of experience and expertise ranges in Real Estate. Some agents work part time, full time, specialize in commercial property, farmland, condos. The Detail A great agent share comparables, historical sales, property history and even land assessment information with their clients. They help you make an informed decision, review every clause in an agreement (including those crossed off) and makes sure you are very comfortable with your transaction. If your agent isn’t sharing the details, get a new agent because they might not be getting into the detail themselves. Referrals Some people make their decisions with vendors, property managers or Real Estate Agents just on referrals alone. This is not a bad method as long as the group referring the Agent is credible and experienced. They should have first hand examples of working with the Agent or you might want to think again about taking their advice. Responsiveness/Availability You are about to make a significant financial investment or take on additional risk. The very last thing you want is an Agent who is not response or unavailable. Make sure that you feel like a priority and that the turn around is quick. If it takes a day or so for someone to get back to you just on setting up an initial meeting, this might foreshadow a disappointing experience in the future. Don’t be unrealistic about their availability though, everyone needs a little work/life balance. Pick an Agent Specific to a Region You want an agent familiar the current market trends and the neighborhood you are buying. Where are the best restaurants, shops, schools, proximity to transportation (including knowing the various bus/subway lines). These factors are all very important to renters and if you are buying investment property, they will become important when you try to rent your property. Your real estate agent should be able to refer you with other professionals and vendors for inspections, financials, property management companies in that area a specialist in an area knows it intimately and will help provide you with a significant competitive advantage when it comes to buying or selling. History A proven track record does not hurt, but don’t get caught up in the “sold over asking” pitch. In Toronto, there is currently a strategy of listing a property below market value to invoke multiple bids, ie. The bidding war. This strategy can be very successful, but doesn’t really mean the agent got over market value for their client. So, you can see there is a lot to think about when choosing a real estate agent and with over 23,000 agents in the GTA alone the possibilities are almost endless. Whether your agent is a friend, family member or stranger the rules are still the same. You should be comfortable with them, and they should have experience with real estate investments, your location, and show a genuine interest in seeing you be successful. Note: Mekler Property Management offers property management services in the Greater Toronto Area. For more information please visit us at www.Mekler.ca – We help you be a landlord without being the landlord!