How to Pick the Best Real Estate Agent

Whether purchasing a first condo for yourself or a house for your now-growing family, a real estate agent is an essential ingredient in finding the perfect place to call home. For many young professionals, real estate marks a whole new territory altogether and the process of finding an appropriate agent can be a daunting task. A poor match could waste your time, money and try your patience in the process. After all, real estate is the single largest purchase you will make, and we young professionals have enough trouble deciding the perfect suit or cocktail dress to wear to that important function.

Communication is Key
In order to stay on the same page, you must be able to communicate honestly and openly with your real estate agent. As such, it is important to develop a rapport with him or her early on and maintain a general level of comfort and transparency. “For buyers, if you’re unable to articulate your desired search criteria and critique the listings that you visit, then you’re not doing anyone any favours,” said Jessica Goodwin, a Toronto-based YP real estate agent. “Time is money.  Your real estate agent should help you to find the best bang for your buck in the least amount of time and the only way to achieve this is by communicating with one another and creating a realistic approach to the search process.” Set up an initial meeting with your potential agent(s) and feel out the vibe.

Laziness Doesn’t Seal the Deal
The reality is that, for the most part, real estate agents are entrepreneurs and are as busy and driven as they wish to make themselves. There are real estate agents of all sorts; those who barely scrape by, working side jobs just to make ends meet, and those  (yes, under the age of 30) who are enjoying incredibly lucrative commissions and subsequent standards of living. There are also the self-proclaimed  “real estate agents” who afford themselves the title so it sounds like he or she has a job, but can be found at their lake house or ski chalet on the weekends instead of busting ass at open houses. Especially among young professionals, bidding wars can literally come down to a few thousand dollars and a real estate agent should be prepared to work on your behalf to secure the deal, and not be quick to give up easily because they lack faith they will win the deal or because the deal doesn’t necessarily involve a multi-million dollar house.

An Agent with Expertise in What You Want
This may seem obvious, but we have seen countless YPs quick to follow the advice of his or her parents and turn to an older family friend whose days of being a “young professional” were over multiple decades beforehand.  Choose someone who specializes in your needs; who knows historical information, up-and-coming neighbourhoods, industry trends, and who is a known source of knowledge in both the type of neighbourhood and type of home you are looking for. A single young professional looking to purchase his or her first condo downtown is probably not going to benefit from the real estate agent that has been in the business for 30 years (however seasoned he or she may be) and who specializes in multi-million dollar homes more appropriate for growing families. A fellow young professional is in tune with your needs, younger tastes, the demographic, the best restaurants and bars in the surrounding area and other relevant places of interest. They understand your finances and where you chose to spend your money.

An Agent With Another Real-Estate Related Expertise
A good real estate agent is one that has an eye for other related fields, like home décor and design, architecture and art. For example, a real estate agent may be able to suggest appropriate stores to purchase furniture that is suitable for smaller condominiums and have an eye for uses of space within a unit. He or she may offer insight on how a deck may actually work in your tiny backyard; and refer you to the best company to construct it. Furthermore, they may be able to suggest how otherwise uninteresting walls can be spruced up with art and can refer you to appropriate art consultants and decorators. “If it wasn’t for the interior decorating experience of my agent, I never would have ended up in my condo, which I love,” said a 27-year-old Toronto YP, who resides in a hotel/residence. “She opened my eyes as to how I could make the most out of my space and essentially how to turn my bachelor unit into more of a one bedroom through offering insight on the use and compartmentalization of the space.”

Referrals and Research
Like anything else, referrals from a trusted source that understands your needs is of merit and increasingly important in an over-saturated profession. Be cautious when someone refers you to his or her best friend, husband, wife or other family member, as it may not be your best interests he or she has in mind. Like many businesses that offer a service, do your research and choose someone with a proven track record for success. Many YP real estate agents have interactive websites, blogs and are active in social media – all resources that may reveal much about his or her tastes, experience, their area of expertise and related interests.